TrueDelta has updated its car reliability stats to cover all of 2013, making them about eight months ahead of other sources. A new set of statistics includes only powertrain and chassis repairs—the systems needed for a car to be drivable. Stats for electric vehicles, including the Tesla Model S, are especially noteworthy with this update.
The average 2013 model required 27 repair trips per 100 cars during 2013. When you consider that this statistic includes even minor repairs, such as those for rattles, the average car today is very reliable. The averages for 2008 and 2003 model year cars were 44 and 73, respectively. Even ten-year-old cars aren’t averaging one repair trip per year.
Some car owners only consider repairs that render a car undrivable to be worthy of concern. With this update TrueDelta has released a second set of statistics that include only powertrain and chassis repairs. These are only about one-third of the total for 2013 models. Powertrain and chassis repairs are rare during the warranty period. But such repairs increase as cars age to become 64 percent of the total for 2008s and 75 percent of the total for 2003s.
With the Prius, Toyota has demonstrated that hybrids (and, by extension, electric cars) can be highly reliable. And at first the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf required few repairs. With the 2013s, though, both suffer from new common problems, the Volt with its charge port door and the Leaf with its battery charging system.
The Tesla Model S has scored very well on at least one prominent reliability survey. In TrueDelta’s latest stats, though, it has the worst score of any 2013 by a wide margin, 109 repair trips per 100 cars per year, about four times the average. The sample size was a few cars below the usual minimum, but this score is so high that even a sample size twice as large could not have yielded even a middling score. In Tesla’s defense, nearly all of the reported problems were minor–wind noise, rattles, a click in the steering–and owners report outstanding service quality. For these reasons it is not surprising that the car has scored much better on surveys that ask owners to only report “problems you considered serious.”
These problems with the Model S could only affect early cars, and even these only during the first year of ownership. With prompt, quarterly updates, TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey will track the Model S and other car models closely as they age. When a car company reacts quickly, the reliability of its products can improve dramatically in well under a year.
For the latest stats: