Consumer Reports' Long-Term Tesla Develops Reliability Blemishes

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Though the Tesla Model S is one of Consumer Reports’ recommended darlings, the premium EV garnered its share of reliability blemishes during long-term testing.

Consumer Reports’ Gabe Shenhar says that over the 15,743 miles he and his colleagues have spent driving the Model S, a number of problems have popped up, including:

  • Automatic retracting door handles “relucant to emerge from the coachwork”
  • A broken seat buckle in the third row seating section
  • Front trunk lid failing to release via touchscreen
  • Said screen going blank, blocking all access to the car’s functions

Shenhar noted every one of these problems were quickly remedied by the service center in Milford, Conn. or over-the-air from the mothership in California.

He concludes that the sedan’s reliability ranking may fall a bit when the publication’s related survey is examined in September, but only if other Model S owners have had similar problems occur with enough severity and frequency to merit a downgrade.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Kkop Kkop on Aug 13, 2014

    15,000 miles is 'long term'? Even my motorcycle needed longer than that to break in.

    • Redav Redav on Aug 13, 2014

      That's over a year's worth of driving for a typical American car. Most reviewers don't keep cars longer than that (curse you model year revisions!)--so, yeah, it's appropriate for a "long term" test.

  • Heavy handle Heavy handle on Aug 13, 2014

    Let's not forget that CR's life and blood is reliability. This reflects the worldview of their Camry-owning readership, but it's not a huge deal for everybody. I expect my fridge to operate reliably, quietly and economically for at least 20 years, but I like a bit more spice on my cars. So what if there's an occasional glitch that's immediately fixed?

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    • APaGttH APaGttH on Aug 13, 2014

      This - and a touch of conformational bias. If you overall are happy with your car, you may not report that "glitch" that a dealer fixed with a tech just coming out to the parking lot and releasing a stuck latch for free (as an example) If you're not happy, you probably will report it.

  • Philadlj Philadlj on Aug 13, 2014

    I don't ask or expect Tesla's Model S be perfect and continue being perfect for years to come. What I do expect is that Tesla will always be right on top of these issues and fix them in a timely and as painless a fashion as possible, which as far as I know, is exactly what is happening. Tesla seems to understand that a car with so many new technologies isn't going to be flawless, but those flaws can be largely mitigated by quick, personal, pleasant, competent customer service...not to mention by being early adopters the earliest of Model S owners are also essentially beta testers for Tesla's future products, meaning those flaws will likely be fixed in future product.

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    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Aug 13, 2014

      @David C. Holzman My experience with a brand new 1996 Saturn I bought for my daughter's HS graduation gift was less than stellar also. Although my daughter never abused the car using it solely to get to and from college on US70, the problems were numerous, albeit all under warranty. After she graduated college and got a job in California the warranty expired but the problems continued even though all she used it for was the daily commute on I-5. Among the problems, the manual transmission lost first gear, the handbrake mechanism broke, the sunroof handle mechanism failed, with the final straw being a blown headgasket to the tune of >$1000 in cost to repair. Rather than fix it again, she traded that POS Saturn for a brand new 2000 Corolla and learned that life could be good, without car breakdowns and without the insecurity that comes with every GM product. At least the Saturn didn't kill her.

  • RogerB34 RogerB34 on Aug 13, 2014

    Minor but expensive for Tesla to repair. The major problem not solved is the requirement for higher battery energy density. No solution.