Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S Ranked "Average" In Reliability Survey

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
consumer reports tesla model s ranked average in reliability survey

Think your Tesla Model S is all that and a bag of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Doritos? That it says to the world that you’ve arrived? That you’re standing on the edge of a silver future? Consumer Reports says your car’s just “average.”

The publication took information from its recent Annual Reliabilty Survey — which Tesla cannot partake in full until it has a second model in the lineup, per the survey’s criteria — and found that the 1,353 Model S owners surveyed had similar service experiences as Consumer Reports had in its long-term tester. The comparison with other vehicles the same age as the premium EV helped it earn the “Average” ranking.

The majority of the reports focused on small problems, such as slow-retracting door handles and body-component issues. That said, the publication will continue to recommend the Model S to its readership, noting it was in good company with other high-end vehicles rated as such, including the Acura RLX.

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  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Nov 04, 2014

    Given that it has no gearbox, only one moving part in the electric motor, and relatively few technology gadgets compared to luxury competitors, average does not seem like such a great performance for the Tesla.

    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Nov 04, 2014

      On the other hand, these days average is pretty darn good. We might as well be living in Lake Woebegon.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 04, 2014

    Re: Model S drivetrain issues... 1. Tesla says there are two primary problem areas: a. An improper shim in the drive pinion that generates noise. b. A loose motor cable that vibrated if not clamped down. 2. Tesla's default repair for drivetrain complaints was to expediently replace the whole thing - with an eye toward customer satisfaction - but also because they didn't understand the root causes for some time. 3. Tesla has upgraded their powertrain warranty to 'infinite' miles IIRC, so aside from the nuisance of experiencing some down time, they don't want this to be a concern for owners. While following the Edmunds car reports, I was very concerned that Tesla might propagate this issue into the Model 3. Now that they've publicly described the root causes, I'm confident this won't happen. However, it's worth mentioning that one of the Edmunds drivetrain replacements occurred in conjunction with a battery replacement, with no explanation given by Tesla. In this situation, the entire car died and rolled to a stop, at night in a bad part of LA - not cool. One of the Edmunds commenters noted that his RAV4 EV had its drivetrain replaced also - and it uses Tesla hardware. While this is not a minor issue, I believe Tesla has finally gotten control of it. Their quick-turn policy may have enthused many customers, but it has raises suspicions among many non-customers like me - people who eagerly await the Model 3. So I'm not surprised at the 'average' CR reliability rating. Drivetrain aside, there are many do-dads going wrong on these cars - sunroofs, GUI, door handles, suspension, etc. On the other hand, consider how many makes were bested by upstart Tesla.

  • Patriotic_wish Patriotic_wish on Nov 04, 2014

    My Model S (P85+) was delivered on December 18th, 2013. A few days later, on December 23rd to be specific, I screwed up and attempted to interrupt an over-the-air software update in order to show the car to a friend -- I crashed the onboard computer and with it, the car was immobilized. With family coming in for the Holidays, and an infirm mother to transport, I figured I was screwed, but called my Tesla service center in Dania (110 miles away) and asked for help. They picked the car up that afternoon and returned it, washed, charged and repaired the next day (ON CHRISTMAS EVE). For me, it was a Jerry Maguire moment -- they had me with attitude, service and a sense of customer devotion that I never received after buying a small flotilla of Mercedes. I put my money where my mouth I ordered a "D" version the day after it was introduced. I am quite certain those who pooh-pooh Tesla likely have never driven a Tesla and certainly haven't owned one. It's the greatest AMERICAN car that I have ever owned.

    • See 3 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Nov 05, 2014

      @VenomV12 "Riddle me this, more and more Teslas hit the road, you are on a road trip, supercharger has 10 spots, it takes 40 mins to get charged, 20 of you are at the supercharger, you are not one of the first 10, do the math on how it is going to take you to get out of there, still satisfied?" Hmmm... Let's see... So you're assuming that a given Supercharger station has ten charging points. Ok. So you're assuming that there are 20 people waiting on that Supercharger. Why? How far into the future are you projecting this figure? Just as an example, the current highest proportion of Tesla models on the road is in California where the typical Supercharger station has about 4 stands. Even with that relatively high population, I haven't heard of any backups at any of their stations--even when a TTAC writer reported visiting one a few months ago. I would also point out that the Supercharger network is still growing and more stations will obviously be placed in high-density areas, just like gas stations. You are then assuming that the Tesla driver will feel "trapped" as he waits for a charging point--just as modern drivers feel "trapped" as they wait for an open gas pump at the local gas station/convenience store. (Hmmm... maybe those supercharger stations will also be at a convenience store/restaurant/etc...?) It seems to me that you are trying to manufacture a situation that is unlikely to occur for a MINIMUM of ten years and maybe not for much longer. Just as gasoline stations proliferated with the automobile, don't you think recharging stations will proliferate with the EV? Most certainly even if everyone on earth owned strictly an EV you still wouldn't need as many public recharging stations as we have gas stations in the US alone because for over 90% of those people, their typical drive would be well within the range of the current Model S, so would be recharged at home.

  • Patriotic_wish Patriotic_wish on Nov 04, 2014

    Actually you can screw up an AMG Mercedes in any number of ways. I have a complete shut down of an E63 for now apparent reason with 2100 miles on the clock; the main computer went belly up. My S63 had a never ending series of hydraulic problems; it's lots of fun to go out to a 140K car and find the tires sitting up in the wheel wells because a hydraulic hose (for the seond time) has failed. I'll take you at your word about the "yawn"...methinks you could use a little Cialis or potentially testosterone supplementation if that was your only reaction. For what it's worth, I've found that Tesla's biggest detractors derive from the traditional automotive econo-system; dealers et al are particularly ill-disposed to the marque. On the other hand, I didn't go into this deal expecting that S/N 22106 would be perfect -- I expected teething pains as an early adopter. Accept my view or not, I have been surprised and rather amazed at just how close to perfect Tesla was able to get this product at such an immature stage in its development. Continue on as a Luddite krodes1...I personally take great pleasure in contributing my dollars towards a distruptive should make everybody a little better..