Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

PSA: You can find people whining about build quality for any brand

KarenRei

ᴉǝɹuǝɹɐʞ
Jul 18, 2017
9,619
103,829
Iceland
Every so often you find articles focusing on the notion "Tesla has horrible build quality because I found person X, Y and Z complaining about it on the net." This post is not to exonerate Tesla for its failings, but to point out that a large portion of this can simply be explained by a willingness to echo any bad reports - because every car brand will have bad reports. People who've had a bad experience are far more likely to go online and post angry messages in forums, on Youtube, etc than those who haven't.

Let's demonstrate.

BMW:

I googled BMW fit and finish. This page ("Interior build quality and finish of new BMWs (rant)") was one of the first results:

Interior build quality and finish of new BMWs (rant) - Page 1 - BMW General - PistonHeads

Here's the first few replies to the original rant to give you a taste:

Agree, and I am due to take delivery of my new 3-series this month (couldn't get an Audi on our lease). Even the demo car, which was registered the morning I took it out for a couple of days, rattled. Not good.

I'm on my second E90 3-series (Alpina D3 and now 320ED)
Only problem I've had with trim has been creaky driver's door seals (fixed).
No problems with rattles at all, in either of them.
I also like the way the interior trim cleans up like new every time, even after kids have been in the car.
Very high quality and very hard wearing.
My previous car, an Audi A3 sportback, had numerous rattles.
The Audi's aluminium trim also scratched easily.

Good for you. I've had lots of high mileage Audis and driven a few BMWs with much lower mileage. The Audi interiors were rock solid even after 180K miles. The BMW I owned rattled like mad at 80K and felt cheap.

As I say, I'm getting one, but it's my second choice.

Some random ones from later:

I replaced the E46 with an ex demo 120d. The main reason I got rid was numerous trim issues, each of which took the previously excellent dealer several attempts to fix. I gave up when the door rubber was refitted for the third time, despite me asking for a replacement, and when I queried paint flaking off I was given an estimate for the repair (one year old car).

So I replaced it with the TT, also ex demo. Despite getting fobbed off by one dealer, I had the filler cap and air con compressor replaced. Also the door handles (which are sticking again since the cold weather started), window regulator, Bose amp, and the mats, which were very worn at 12k miles. I'm hoping the DGS box's noises don't mean it'll fail before I trade it in, but apparently it being rubbish in town traffic is normal. The interior feels more solid but there are rattles, now at 20k miles, but the worn and sagging seat leather is apparently common.

After spending 130k in an E90, nothing rattles, nothings broken and daily function is simple. Seat wear was terrible after 30k miles, but thay are after all mass produced cars. As long as the mechanical side remains fairly well engineered, i shall remain in BMW's far better weight distribution.

As my line of work means we have to disassemble a lot of modern vehicle interiors, I have to say the latest BMW's are certainly not as well screwed together as the older models. The E90 climate control panel just falls out, held on with 2 clips - go on try it!! I have often wanted to do this in a dealership as the sales guy talks me through the controls and build quality but have refrained so far.

Done about 120 miles total in my new 318d Touring; dash started rattling yesterday, then went away again. Feels better built than my E46 but that had a lot more miles on.

Etc. And that's just about interiors - check out this Jalopnik article, "BMW Engines Are Gigantic Pieces Of *sugar*"

https://thegarage.jalopnik.com/bmw-engines-are-gigantic-pieces-of-*sugar*-1784684330

But hey, maybe it's just BMW. Let's do Audi!

The first thing I find is a book, "Lemon-Aid", talking about the build quality of vehicles of different generations. Their description of Audi:

Like Chrysler's beautiful but toxic full-sized cars, Audi's lineup uses smart styling to cover poor quality and serious factory-related defects. Expect "lag and lurch" acceleration, problematic electrical and fuel systems, and surprisingly sub-par fit and finish. ... Repair costs: Higher than average, and almost all repairs have to be done by an Audi dealer. Expect long delays for routine repairs and parts...

... they just keep going. But I'm not really looking for books, I'm looking for forums and the like. So let's hop on over to Audi World. Well, what have we here, "Still Bitchin' about Audi Fit and Finish"

Still bitchin' about Audi fit-and-finish... - AudiWorld Forums

Leading off with:

Yeah, I love my Avant. But so many little details are really starting to bug me.

- the crooked door trim
- rear bumpers that protrude past the lower grey cladding enough to be annoying
- exhaust pipes that do not extend out equally from the rear valance, nor are centered in the valance cutouts
- incredibly weak paint that chips if you sneeze on it (exacerbated by the dark Dolphin color, Canvas Beige please!)

Thankfully, most is forgotten when flogging the 1.8. But I'm just a bit concerned about Audi's self-proclaimed build quality.

Let's get some more. Door chrome trim misalignment? Check:

Chrome door trim alignment - Audifans.net

Vibration? Check:

2015 A3 Limo noise/vibration - AudiForums.com

Multiple people chime in to report the exact same problem.

Etc, etc - I can easily link many more. (Also, totally offtopic, but amusingly from a Carbuzz review of the Audi A4, their description of the car at one point is:

Should You Buy Audi A4?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sed sanctus omnesque in, mel regione expetenda ei.

;)

But apart from that offtopic, the point is: pick a brand. You'll find people online whining about problems they have with build quality - and more often than not, when they post, while some other posters will chime in to defend their build quality experience, others chime in to report the same build quality problems (or bring up different ones). That's just the nature of car discussions online.

The difference here is that Tesla is one of the most controversial car topics of our day. Anything related to Tesla becomes widely publicized. And that includes any "fit and finish" issues.

Does that mean that Tesla's fit and finish is better than average? Hardly. In fact, if I had to guess, I'd wager it's below average. But the key aspect of this post is a caveat against overinterpreting random posts from online. To a person who happens to have build quality problems, the issue is very real to them - but that does not make them a statistically representative sample. Stick with groups like consumer reports (which in general seems to support my suspicions - they rank Model S "above average" in reliability, Model X "below average", with the X's score dragging Tesla's overall rating down, with an expectation of "average" for the Model 3 in its first year of production).
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
9,236
10,764
California
There are a few people here who post about "delivery nightmares" and "Tesla will fail because of poor build quality" but when you read these posts, they seem to be severely OCD people who are posting about "defects" which most people would not notice unless they had a professional car detailer trying to sell them expensive "correction" services point them out.
I've gotten to the point where I just ignore them.
There will always be people who are hypersensitive and can see things us mere mortals cannot. I personally wish that these people would just buy another brand and harass their dealers.
 

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,399
EU
Nah.

The problem isn't all companies have issues, which is true, the problem is Tesla has a unique way (for a premium brand) of rushing cars through which causes an excessive amount of issues to be repaired post-delivery.
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
9,236
10,764
California
Nah.

The problem isn't all companies have issues, which is true, the problem is Tesla has a unique way (for a premium brand) of rushing cars through which causes an excessive amount of issues to be repaired post-delivery.
Judging from the anecdotal whinging about other cars, it seems they have the same problems.
The only people who really know about defect rates are the car manufacturers. Everything else is just uninformed anecdotal whinging (usually with an agenda).
 
  • Like
Reactions: EinSV and ChadS

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,399
EU
Judging from the anecdotal whinging about other cars, it seems they have the same problems.
The only people who really know about defect rates are the car manufacturers. Everything else is just uninformed anecdotal whinging (usually with an agenda).

There we disagree. IMO there is specific evidence that suggests Tesla rushes cars through in a manner that other manufacturers do not.

For example, it is widely agreed Tesla optimizes in-quarter deliveries. That is not at all common in the industry and puts special schedule pressure on Tesla.
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
9,236
10,764
California
There we disagree. IMO there is specific evidence that suggests Tesla rushes cars through in a manner that other manufacturers do not.

For example, it is widely agreed Tesla optimizes in-quarter deliveries. That is not at all common in the industry and puts special schedule pressure on Tesla.
The "specific evidence" comes from disgruntled (fired) Tesla employees. Biased anecdotal "evidence" is worthless.
 

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,399
EU
The "specific evidence" comes from disgruntled (fired) Tesla employees. Biased anecdotal "evidence" is worthless.

I don't base it solely on that, though. We've witnessed it on TMC over the years in all the experiences and stories on sales people pushing the delivery to meet the quarter's end and asking to come back later for the fixes.

Tesla definitely prioritizes fast delivery and prefers to fix later. Model X five-seater (parts for which were delivered to already-delivered cars over time) was another clear example where we saw the evidence of this policy in action.
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
9,236
10,764
California
8 months ago I bought a CPO Mercedes SL550.....I'm in the process of a lemon law claim. I'm replacing it with a Tesla....can't wait to start bitching all over again :)
I actually forced Audi to take back a new car that they couldn't/wouldn't fix under a lemon law. In that case it wasn't minor cosmetic flaws but rather the car would just stop running randomly (on the freeway, etc.). I considered that a serious defect.
Other than that, I don't sweat the small stuff. Life is too short. You pay your money and take your chances. It's only money. I don't have time left in my life to spend it getting all worked up over trivial issues.
 

EinSV

Active Member
Feb 6, 2016
4,328
21,513
NorCal
I don't base it solely on that, though. We've witnessed it on TMC over the years in all the experiences and stories on sales people pushing the delivery to meet the quarter's end and asking to come back later for the fixes.

Tesla definitely prioritizes fast delivery and prefers to fix later. Model X five-seater (parts for which were delivered to already-delivered cars over time) was another clear example where we saw the evidence of this policy in action.

@AnxietyRanger: Your criticisms are misplaced.

According to Consumer Reports, the reliability of your beloved Audi's flagship A8 sedan, as well as the flagship BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Series sedans, have now all now fallen behind the Model S, which has above average reliability. How Consumer Reports Rated Top Electric Cars in Reliability for 2018

So according to Consumer Reports' data, Model S has superior reliability to the flagship sedans from all of the German premium manufacturers.

Perhaps your time would be better spent on the Audi forums complaining about the reliability rankings of the A8.

As @KarenRei's post suggests, reliance on anecdotal data has led you to bark up the wrong tree.
 
Last edited:

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,399
EU
@EinSV My point is very specific: Tesla pushes quarterly deliveries, speed over quality. I've seen enough to believe this is a very Tesla specific issue. Audi or BMW are definitely not affected by a similar goal.

Mind you, reliability is very different from build quality. That's why Model S is doing OK and Model X is dead last on Consumer Reports' list... Anyway, I'm not really talkin reliability.

Build quality, the gaps, the small issues not fixed before delivery, that is what the speed and focus on speed is causing most of all in Teslas. They just prefer to get the car to you within quarter and ask you to come back later to perfect it.

That's the Tesla way.
 

Upscaleman

Member
Nov 24, 2017
375
375
Los Angeles
I actually forced Audi to take back a new car that they couldn't/wouldn't fix under a lemon law. In that case it wasn't minor cosmetic flaws but rather the car would just stop running randomly (on the freeway, etc.). I considered that a serious defect.
Other than that, I don't sweat the small stuff. Life is too short. You pay your money and take your chances. It's only money. I don't have time left in my life to spend it getting all worked up over trivial issues.
exactly....
 

jelloslug

Active Member
Jul 21, 2015
4,711
6,017
Greenville, SC
Nah.

The problem isn't all companies have issues, which is true, the problem is Tesla has a unique way (for a premium brand) of rushing cars through which causes an excessive amount of issues to be repaired post-delivery.
I had numerous items that had to be fixed after delivery on my i3. There was only on issue with my Model S and two (more major) with the Leaf.
 

bonnie

I play a nice person on twitter.
Feb 6, 2011
16,427
9,740
Columbia River Gorge
So do you not think Tesla's desire to push fast quarterly deliveries is unique?
Every publicly-held business wants to maximize EOQ reports.

I had an interesting (well, to me) thought the other morning - we all are complaining about service centers really being the last stop of the manufacturing process. Numerous comments about things shouldn't leave the factory like that, etc.

But ... there is another way to look at this: If you were having to rapidly ramp up service centers with trained personnel BEFORE massive deliveries occurred, it wouldn't be out of the question to decide to let the service centers finish the last of the fit/finish checks and do minor fixes. You keep the workforce occupied, they have time to get trained, etc.

I wonder if once Model 3 deliveries ramp up if we'll see this practice stop. It's not a bad approach from a headcount utilization viewpoint.
 
  • Helpful
Reactions: AnxietyRanger

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,399
EU
@bonnie A fair post - and IMO it would be an improvement if the stores/service centers actually were authorized, empowered and encouraged to go that last mile already before delivery, instead of being encouraged to push stuff out the door and scheduling a time later. Then we wouldn't even know, much of the time, something was amiss. :)

And yes, I agree Tesla has used the service centers in this manner at times. E.g. to FedEx deliver parts to the delivery store/service center for Model X five-seaters while the partially assembled rear interiors were in the cars on the train/truck. Too bad even in that case they kind of left it halfway and then delivered the rest of the trunk parts only much later...

I have much sympathy for the Tesla service center staff. Sometimes they are really caught between a rock and a hard place...
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
12,966
38,498
Michigan
Is part of the issue that you never test drive nor see the actual car you are buying until delivery? For other makes, many people buy from dealer inventory and drive the car, see if they like it, then go in and complete the sale. If one had an issue, you just jump to another. With the custom order system of Tesla, there is more of a locked into this specific car vibe.
 

EinSV

Active Member
Feb 6, 2016
4,328
21,513
NorCal
@EinSV My point is very specific: Tesla pushes quarterly deliveries, speed over quality. I've seen enough to believe this is a very Tesla specific issue. Audi or BMW are definitely not affected by a similar goal.

Mind you, reliability is very different from build quality. That's why Model S is doing OK and Model X is dead last on Consumer Reports' list... Anyway, I'm not really talkin reliability.

Build quality, the gaps, the small issues not fixed before delivery, that is what the speed and focus on speed is causing most of all in Teslas. They just prefer to get the car to you within quarter and ask you to come back later to perfect it.

That's the Tesla way.

The "small issues not fixed before delivery" that fall within your definition of build quality are also encompassed by CR's reliability report, although they are weighted lower than more serious issues, as they should be. These include:

PAINT/TRIM/RUST: Paint (fading, chalking, peeling or cracking), loose trim or moldings, rust.

BODY INTEGRITY (noises & leaks): Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals, and/or weather stripping, air and water leaks.

BODY HARDWARE: Windows, locks and latches, doors or sliding doors, tailgate, trunk or hatch, mirrors, seat controls (movement and temperature), seat belts, sunroof, convertible top, glass defect.​

Consumer Reports' Car Reliability FAQ

So the point still stands, problems with what you are calling "build quality" are part of CR's reliability rating, and according to CR the Model S comes out ahead of the A8, S-Series and 7-Series on overall reliability.

In any case, attempting to elevate the significance of "small issues" over greater reliability problems in competing sedans is not just making mountains out of molehills, it is elevating molehills over mountains.
 

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,399
EU
So the point still stands, problems with what you are calling "build quality" are part of CR's reliability rating, and according to CR the Model S comes out ahead of the A8, S-Series and 7-Series on overall reliability.

Then again, by using that standard, Model X is dead last on reliability. No?

I think I'll stay out of the reliability debate, I don't have a clear opinion on that. I have a specific grievance here that I think Tesla could easily rectify with an adjusted focus: don't prioritize deliveries for speed quite as much, but more and more for quality, and that would help with build quality issues. IMO that would be a good direction.

Closing with a personal anecdote: That said, never had any issues with my Audi A8 in the four years I had it. Model S required on a 12V swap in 2 years, but that was very little too IMO. The Model S did have worse panel alignment and some minor interior issues, though, but I let it be. Tesla quirks... Now my Model X, on the other hand: spoiler issues, seat rust issues, charge port door issues, ghosting issues, radio memory issues... ;)
 

EinSV

Active Member
Feb 6, 2016
4,328
21,513
NorCal
Then again, by using that standard, Model X is dead last on reliability. No?

I think I'll stay out of the reliability debate, I don't have a clear opinion on that. I have a specific grievance here that I think Tesla could easily rectify with an adjusted focus: don't prioritize deliveries for speed quite as much, but more and more for quality, and that would help with build quality issues. IMO that would be a good direction.

Closing with a personal anecdote: That said, never had any issues with my Audi A8 in the four years I had it. Model S required on a 12V swap in 2 years, but that was very little too IMO. The Model S did have worse panel alignment and some minor interior issues, though, but I let it be. Tesla quirks... Now my Model X, on the other hand: spoiler issues, seat rust issues, charge port door issues, ghosting issues, radio memory issues... ;)

Again, the point of this thread is that personal anecdotes such as you reported above are just that -- personal anecdotes that are essentially meaningless in terms of predicting overall quality.

That you personally had a good experience with your A8 at some point in the past is not reflected in the current data as reported by CR, which found reliability of the A8 to be worse than the Model S.

You are correct about CR's report on Model X reliability, although it is worth noting that CR's data is likely skewed in that case because the Model X is so new and early production unquestionably had issues. I expect we will see rapid improvement in future reports which include the current Model X production.

In addition, reliability is only one part of the equation and Model X does extremely well by broader measures of customer satisfaction. For example the Model X was recently rated "Most Loved Vehicle in America" according to an annual survey and analysis conducted by Strategic Vision. Tesla Model X, Genesis G90 among the Most Loved Vehicles of 2017, from Strategic Vision
 
  • Helpful
Reactions: AnxietyRanger

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top