Tesla Service Includes a Long Wait or a Long Drive - or Both

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

With lengthy repair times, parts shortages, and colossal distances between locations, Tesla is having real difficulties effectively servicing its current customer base as complaints begin to mount.

While certainly unfortunate news, this will be nothing compared to what it will face when the upcoming Model 3 starts needing the EV equivalent of an oil change.

Automotive News has spoken to numerous consumers that seem genuinely concerned with the company’s gradually lengthening wait times for routine maintenance and necessary repairs.

“With my early Model S, they did a good job and fixed every issue immediately,” said Ethan Shapiro, a project manager from Miami. “Now that the company has grown, service has become a problem.”

Shapiro traded in his Model S for a Model X in January 2015 and noticed a window wouldn’t close properly in September of this year. His local Tesla service center said it would not have an available opening for ten days.

“That’s a long time for a $130,000 car,” Shapiro said.

He previously had to wait almost a week for Tesla to fix a faulty door latch on his electric SUV — a fairly common problem.

Automotive News says Shapiro isn’t alone:

Other owners have experienced even longer wait times. Chris Terry, a 31-year-old platform engineer at Kenzan Media in Denver, was told in August that it would be five weeks before the service center could repair the cracked windshield on his Model S. Tesla advised him to take the car to Safelite, which ended up breaking the rearview mirror and cracking the windshield in another area. Though Tesla replaced the mirror and Safelite agreed to fix the windshield for free, Terry still is waiting on the glass repair because of a shortage in parts specific to his vehicle.

“It worries me, in a sense,” Terry said. Though his delays have been with “low-priority issues,” other Tesla drivers have told him that “long delays in scheduling aren’t any better when you do have a high-priority problem.”

Another problem: Tesla service centers are few and far between. Shapiro expressed annoyance in having to drive an hour to get his Model X serviced, and it isn’t as if Tesla owners can take their electric vehicles to a local mechanic. The company only has 61 service centers, with most located near the same handful of cities. The rest are extremely spread out.

For example, Tesla has a service center in Salt Lake City with the next closest being a 421 mile drive to Las Vegas. The next closest service center is over 500 miles away in Denver, CO. That’s not exactly convenient, even with Supercharger stations along the way.

Although Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Autotrader, says Tesla owners might not even care. He doesn’t think that the lengthy service delays have a major effect on the brand since most owners are less likely to rely solely on their premium EV for transportation.

Future Model 3 owners will be less tolerant and much more likely to need daily access to their vehicles, however. With Tesla also hoping to increase annual production to 500,000 units in 2018, Tesla will need to make a serious effort to increase the number of accredited service centers or suddenly become much more comfortable with allowing independent companies to work on its customers’ cars.

[Image: Tesla]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 39 comments
  • Alfisti Alfisti on Nov 14, 2016

    Garbage article, I know you need to generate income but this is rubbish.

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Nov 14, 2016

    Really, does TTAC need to publish every fluff submission it gets right away? Save them, nurture them, expand them, vet them, and group them. Give the B&B time to go deep. To me this is a reader's sight. 5 articles in 24hrs is more than enough for me to absorb and read the comments on. Automotive News may say "Shapiro isn’t alone" but what does TTAC's examination of the subject say?

    • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Nov 14, 2016

      (And maybe I should do the same with my comments, but whatever...Something is going wrong here)

  • SCE to AUX Here's some advice - slow down. That's a great way to arrive home safely, without a ticket, with lower blood pressure, and more economically.
  • Dartdude They need to rebrand the models, The standard model should be Wagoneer and long version should be Grand Wagoneer. There should offer the Ram Rev powertrain in these
  • Irvingklaws Seems more like they're adopting Honda styling queues. Now if they would just adopt their reliability...
  • FreedMike "Obsidian Edition."Oooooh, obsidian is really, really hard stuff.
  • John The awesome Infiniti G series saved this company 20 years ago, but they are right back on track to obsolescence. (yawn)