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Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

Posted February 15, 2016 2:00 PM by Jordan Perch
Pathfinder Tags: Model S tesla

A couple of months ago, the highly-authoritative consumer products and services comparison magazine Consumer Reports, announced that the P85D, which is the performance version of the all-electric sedan Tesla Model S, was the best car it has ever tested, awarding it a record-breaking score of 103 points on its road test.


Even though Consumer Reports gave the Model S a perfect score, recommending it as a top pick for consumers, it was quick to note that the car's reliability was in question. Now, a few months later, after conducting its annual survey on vehicle reliability, Consumer Reports says that the Model S has serious reliability issues, withdrawing its recommendation for the ultra-popular sedan.


Consumer Reports has announced that the Model S received a "below-average" rating for predicted reliability in the magazine's survey of owners, and that a vehicle with a worse-than-average score can not be recommended.


The magazine gave this rating to the Model S after surveying about 1,400 owners, who reported the various issues they have had with their cars in terms of reliability. Consumer Reports says that the most common problems cited by owners had to do with the vehicle's charging equipment, power equipment, drivetrain, large center console, as well as "body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks." Also, some owners reported problems with the car's automatic door handles and misaligned doors. These are some serious quality problems, that would make any motorist question the reliability of their vehicle.


"As the older vehicles are getting up on miles, we are seeing some where the electric motor needs to be replaced and the onboard charging system won't charge the battery," said Jake Fisher, CR's director of automotive testing. "On the newer vehicles, we are seeing problems such as the sunroof not operating properly. Door handles continue to be an issue."


Unsurprisingly, Consumer Reports' decision to withdraw its recommendation for the Model S had a major impact on Tesla's stock. Immediately after the magazine published the results of its survey, Tesla Motors' shares fell by 10%, a decline that is understandable, considering how influential Consumer Reports' ratings are in terms of affecting consumer decision making process when buying a car.


Consumer Reports' survey underscores how the sophisticated technology that the Model S is equipped with can present an issue for owners. Many of them reported having problems with the vehicle's infotainment system, and cited various technical glitches as factors that affect their overall opinion on how reliable the Model S is.


Tesla Motors reacted to this survey by saying that the company communicates with customers on a regular basis in order to fix any issues reported by owners. "Over-the-air software updates allow Tesla to diagnose and fix most bugs without the need to come in for service," the company said in a statement. "In instances when hardware needs to be fixed, we strive to make it painless."


In any case, the reputation of the Model S among consumers, which has been nearly flawless so far, has surely been damaged by this survey. Tesla Motors will definitely need to react quickly and try to resolve all reliability issues reported by owners, in order to maintain the current sales rate, which is admittedly pretty satisfying.

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#1

Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/15/2016 9:13 PM

This is a pretty damning report. I've been a Tesla fan for years and it gives me serious pause. Not an insurmountable obstacle, but certainly something Tesla needs to address.

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#2
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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/15/2016 10:30 PM

Elon shouldn't fix what ain't broke.

Am concerned for the Xs' gull wing doors, in the long term -

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#3

Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/16/2016 12:56 AM

It takes a lot of experience and know how to design and build cars. I've heard jokes about how the big 3 can't get it right and how the imports are beating them - hands down.

Think about the first Honda car - T360. I was too young to know much about it, but I doubt it was as good as a domestic. The Toyoda AA was their first car (1936) - it was suppose to be a pretty neat car, but I don't think the quality was that good, because only one car survived and it's in horrible condition.

So, if Honda and Toyota had problems mass producing cars, why shouldn't Tesla. There are a lot of things that must go into the design and production of a car.

I think a lot of people were expecting too much from Tesla.

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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/16/2016 1:25 AM

It was an Iowan - W. Edwards Deming - who taught the Japs about QC - after Detroit had continually ignored him.

Now it looks like the Koreans have elevated Demingism to an art form.

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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/16/2016 4:45 AM

I learned about him in graduate school! He was born in Iowa, but his family left when he was a young boy. He was really a Wyoming man.

The Koreans still have manufacturing problems. Hyundai has a huge recall on the 2011 and early 2012's - 470,000 Sonatas with engine problems - crankshaft was not cleaned properly and metal debris can come off and damage the engine.

Ask someone who's in the auto business and goes to auto auctions which manufacturer typically has the highest mileage used cars (gives a good idea of reliability) and it's Toyota, Lexus, GMC, Honda and Infiniti (in that order). Hyundai, Kia and Daewoo are nowhere on the list.

As a mechanic what he thinks of Hyundai and Kia parts and he'll tell you there are some problematic parts on their cars - timing belts that go at 60K miles (150K plus for most Toyotas) and destroy the engine, where the Toyota is a non-interference design.

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#6
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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/16/2016 6:26 AM

When one promotes and boast a great deal, the expectations of the purchaser is no lower than that which has been presented to them. I seriously doubt anyone expected too much from Tesla!

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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/16/2016 1:44 PM

I have some clients who bought a Tesla expecting a car that is better than anything else ever made. I tried to let them know that there will be issues with the car and that there were better choices, but they didn't listen.

I've seen used 2014 P85's for under $60K for a $110K sticker car. S550's are still selling for $75K or so.

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#11
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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/17/2016 1:59 PM

The early Hondas and Toyotas were not at the upper end of of the price range. Tesla is selling cars for higher than the average salary in the U.S. I think people have a right to expect a reasonable level of reliability.

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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/17/2016 2:29 PM

There was a lot of hype about the new Model S when it came out. The car is beautiful, but something is a little off. I look at a Jaguar XJ and it looks great from all angles. The Model S looks good from some angles, but a little plain and in some cases odd, from other angles.

I have owned Jaguars since the mid 00's and I love them. They are quirky, switches and knobs are placed in odd places and for such a large car, there's not a lot of room inside. There is however a charm to them and out of every car I've owned, Jaguars are the nicest place to sit (interior is phenomenal). The reliability is actually pretty good and I've had less problems with my Jaguars than with my BMW's, Mercedes and Porsches. Heck, it's even been more troublefree than my Volvo! Don't get me wrong, it's not as reliable as our Toyota's, Honda's, Infiniti or Nissan!

Would I buy a Tesla? Not yet. Maybe after they're seasoned a bit and the charging infrastructure is much better.

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#7

Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/16/2016 10:26 AM

There is no enterprise more daunting than starting a car company in America.

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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/16/2016 11:14 AM

The smaller version is however, getting rave reviews.....

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#10
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Re: Tesla's Model S Reliability Questioned by Consumer Reports

02/16/2016 5:54 PM

Dang! I wish I had bought the model with the sunroof! My back is killing me!

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