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So just how reliable is the Model S?


Dec 18, 2012
I have had the inverter replaced and windshield motor. Tesla fixed it under warranty. I would concur the car just gets better the more you drive. We have over 16000 miles and what is interesting my wife said just the other day the other cars feel cheap compared to the Tesla. Funny thing is she really doesn't even care about cars.


Active Member
Jun 13, 2012
Beaverton, OR
9,000 miles and not a single issue. Car has been flawless.
I was one of 250 cars that were recalled for a rear seat latch weld issue, which I doubt my car actually had a problem.

Tires rotated at 5200 miles and figured I could have got another 7 to 8,000 on them, until I got an unrepairable flat. So two new rear tires now.

Meanwhile I've forgotten what 9,000 miles would have meant to my ICE alternate. Major service, and likely two oil changes, and a trip out of my way every 5 days to pump $60 to $70 in gas into it. And that's hoping it doesn't develop any mechanical problems along the way. It's a GM product after all.

My Model S? Is awesome!


Nov 13, 2009
There's a good reason why the CR survey showed 99% owner satisfaction: Model S is the best car I've ever owned, and the only car I've ever loved immoderately. Fourteen months, 17,000 miles, and a Tesla permagrin. Any problems have been minor and Service has taken care of them with no hassle and little or no inconvenience to me. Great people work for Tesla at every level. Really the only thing people consistently fault TM for is a haphazard approach to owner communications.

Like everyone else here, I drive my Model S more than my previous cars and look forward to every outing. I love giving people their first ride in an EV; I love going to the grocery store; I love going BACK to the grocery store when I forget that one item on the list. It's that good.


Active Member
Feb 16, 2013
Knoxville, Tennessee
There aren't any reports on truedelta.com for the Tesla Model S. I'd like to request anyone that has one to go sign up and start submitting data.

It'd be nice to be able to compare the reliability between the Tesla, Leaf, Prius or Tesla vs MB, BMW, etcetera.


Model S P-2540
Mar 24, 2011
Cape Cod
Nearly 19k miles and the only things were:

- Fix steering click at low noise
- Fix sunroof noise (only happened once)
- Replace non-functioning door handle
- 12V battery was replaced pre-emptively when door handle was replaced

Oh and I did have a flat once...


Jun 4, 2013
SF Bay Area
With two days to go to finalize my order I’m finding myself experiencing a case of “tesla anxiety”. After spending several hours each day last week reading the forums and Tesla blogs I started getting worried about the seemingly large number of owners experiencing all sorts of mechanical failures. At this point I’m in need of some reassurance (and hopefully this is just the place to get it :smile:). The main reason for my anxiety is simple -- my primary justification for purchasing a MS is the fact that this car should be significantly more reliable and cheaper to own then a traditional ICE car. I drive roughly 25,000 miles per year and for me to justify the purchase of this car the plan is to keep it for 8-10 years. With that said:
1. Do we know specifically how common it is for a MS to need a replacement drive unit similar to the experience of the Edmunds.com long term test car (and a number of folks from the Mechanical Issues thread here)? I realize this is not a problem while most of us are under warranty but my guess is that a “replacement” drive unit out of warranty is going to set the owner back anywhere between 5K and 10K for parts and labor (if anyone here has specific pricing on this I would love to know what it is). Given the number of failures we’re seeing in relatively new cars I can’t help but wonder what this means for those of us who plan to keep this car long term past the warranty of the car. By contrast, motor failures are extremely rare for ICE cars nowadays and even when things go wrong it’s very rare to see the whole motor replaced.
2. There seems to be a large number of cars experiencing a problem with the 12v battery not charging. While this does not seem like a huge deal on the surface, it does not look like this has been fully addressed by Tesla yet and experiencing this problem leaves the MS owner essentially stranded by the side of the road in need of a tow.
3. It seems that there is some defect causing the rear wheel alignment to eventually creep way out of spec. I have a friend who bought a P85 in the spring of 2013 and by the time he hit 8K miles his rear tires were down to the threads. His experience was pretty much identical to that of the Edmunds.com long term test car. Tesla did re-align his car for free but they refused to pay for the replacement tires.
4. There seems to be a large number of misc. failures around the door handles and power window mechanisms.

In the end my main question is whether these are problems that a large number of owners encounter? I realize that we’re all much more likely to find people posting of things going wrong so I’d love to hear from folks who have a relatively trouble free ownership experience.

Hi. So, I have about 6000 miles on mine (purchased in June 2013), and it's interesting; I have had it worked on by the factory a few times (much more than my last car, which was a cheapo 2000 Subaru Impreza), but I'd say I'm much happier with it in general. All of my issues (except one) have been totally just cosmetic fit/finish/creaking issues.

To address your particular points:

0) I've had it looked at three times and had a lot of stuff done, but they have charged me exactly $0 for it, and while they had the car they gave me a Tesla loaner, so I didn't have to pay for rental, and I didn't have to "suffer" without a Model S either. The only thing the work cost me was the time it took to drive to the service center and back. So in terms of it being cheaper to own and maintain, it is, despite needing work.

1) Don't know anything about drive unit replacement - mine is fine.

2) Haven't had 12v battery issues.

3) I had some rear suspension snafu (as described here, with the same fix). It was annoying. But they fixed it for free.

4) Haven't had issues with the handles/windows. I haven't seen people complaining about it recently either - have those been stamped out now?

I'd say that the car is really, really great - good enough that it makes me completely overlook the annoyance of bringing it in for the various minor issues I've had. Aside from the back suspension, it's all bit stuff like "this spot on my dash creaks" and "the pano roof whistles" and "the chrome is sticking out a tiny bit". The only reason I've brought it in for those kinds of issues is because the car was expensive and it's really quiet, so I notice the problems and feel like I paid enough that they should address them. So far they have been ultra accommodating, pleasant, and effective (all issues have been fixed).

More importantly, I feel like all these issues have been one-time issues, not chronic ones, that should get ironed out and, once fixed, not need fixing again after the warranty runs out.

FYI, I also plan on using this car as my daily driver until it drops dead (hoping to get ~160k+ miles on it like my last car.


Jul 15, 2013
Lake Jeanclia, OR
6,000 miles and no real issues. I just had the tires rotated, and they fixed the pano room squeak, but it was so minor that if it wasn't under warranty, I wouldn't have bothered with it. The fix seems to have cured it completely.


Active Member
Jan 21, 2013
Los Altos, CA
11,500 miles since February delivery. Two minor problems that were both fixed under the warranty with great service by Tesla: I've needed to replace the front door right handle and also needed the touchscreen to be replaced. Otherwise the car has been perfect. I've owned Mercedes and BMWs prior to Tesla and seemed like I was always having those cars in for repair. The Model S is the greatest car I've ever owned by far. Nothing else comes close. I laugh when BMW, Mercedes and Audi apologists take potshots at the Tesla for its quality. The Model S is such a threat to those cars that people will say anything to disparage Tesla to stem the tide.


Mar 3, 2010
The great OC

Interesting comments. I am somewhat curious about the driving experience. I certainly agree that the MS is an impressive car but at the same time I'm not sure why you feel that "No ICE car can compare". Having test-driven every Telsa variant I can honestly say that an M5, and this is just one example of several I can name like an Audi S7/RS7 etc..., can very much compare. In my opinion these ICE's are all, objectively better cars (in terms of performance, fit and finish as well as some good safety features/creature comforts like collision avoidance, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise etc. that are missing in the MS) for roughly the same money as MS. Where they all become cost prohibitive for someone like myself who drives a lot is in their cost to operate (gas, service, consumables like breaks/tires). To me this seemed like the one area where the MS clearly wins yet you seem to say that's not the case (and based on your experience it's difficult to disagree). Am I missing something that drove you to pick the MS over the others?

I have already logged 28.5k miles with the S and it is clearly the car I choose to drive among the 3 I own. To your question about why I feel no ICE car can compare to the S it is really a simple answer: The driving experience is zen like in the Model S. No other car I have driven has put me in that state. Like you, I took a test drive in the S and the S impressed with it's effortless grace and power. It wasn't until I actually owned the car and began driving it as a "driver's car" that I realized the car was something special. I look forward to driving the car; refreshed after having driven it. I feel connected to the car more so than what BMW or MBZ have to offer and I have owned both. I can't speak for the Audi experience as I have never driven one. Yes, you will find cars with better fit and finish, more safety features and more "bells and whistles". However, when it comes to the driving experience, the S is unmatched imo.

Your question about operating costs and the Model S I can only relate my experience: 5.5 cents a mile for electricity compared to 16 to 25 cents for my other 2 gas cars. Tires, I got 19k miles vs 50k miles in my other cars. Insurance about the same. I take my cars to the dealer and estimate about $1500 a year for the gas cars if I put the same mileage on them as the S, that's just for maintenance. The S is $475 a year if you get the prepaid plan. The S has my gas cars beat in fuel costs and maintenance, a draw with insurance, however costs double when it comes to tires. So in my experience I don't see significant lower operating costs for the S vs my gas cars. Given your driving habits it certainly could be lower to operate than what I have experienced.


Model S #6151, Model 3 #1576
Mar 11, 2013
Santa Monica, CA
I'll quickly chime in with another positive note: We just passed 8,000 miles and 8 months of ownership. I'd consider this car at least as reliable as any other car I've driven. We've never not been able to get where we want to go. That includes a flawless 1,300 mile round trip from Los Angeles to the Bay Area & Truckee (with quite a few Supercharger visits), two trips up to the San Bernardino Mountains (100+ miles from LA, including an 8,400' elevation gain), and two trips to San Diego.

We have had a handful of minor issues (mostly fit & finish stuff, like the pano roof creak), but the service center has been fantastic at resolving them (and getting a Performance loaner made me glad our car was in for service!).


Active Member
Sep 2, 2013
Silicon Valley, CA
Here's another positive. It it weren't for the Tesla we never would've found out about the EV-A PG&E Electricity plan. We just got our first full month bill and we saved over $200.00 compared to last year and that includes the price of charging the car. That $2400.00 a year and and $24,000.00 over ten years. Combine that with the Gas savings and the car starts to make more economic sense. But that's really not the reason I love it so much...

Driving a Tesla is a completely different experience from any other performance car. Because you only need one pedal to drive most of the time, the car becomes an organic part of you. It's a connection with the car that I've never experienced before. The front end suspension is not burdened by a 500 lb. motor and there is no spinning crankshaft under the car to transfer the power. There's simply no comparison because an electric vehicle is in another class from an ICE vehicle. Imagine trying to ride a bicycle with a hundred pound bag of groceries in the front basket. You can see how it would affect handling. Electric motors require no transmission and there is zero SMOG devices on the car since it has zero emissions. When I drive our Toyota Sienna now it feels like a rattling, noisy and inefficient jalopy in comparison. The only downside I can think of is the price, but if you factor in the time and real world savings it starts to make more sense. Not to mention that you are investing in the future and helping to get our country off our corrupt and destructive oil addiction.


Oct 9, 2012
9,000 miles, VIN 44XX.

I spent a handful of laps racing an Audi R8 V10 last week and I left feeling...uninspired. Sure, the Audi's balance and braking were better but the acceleration just didn't have that same "whoa!" feeling that the P85 gives. And it only has 2 seats. And crappy gas mileage. With that said:

I have had only two issues, and by "issues" I mean annoyances. I am one who has had the drive unit replaced. It was simply a light hum at 60 and 80mph. I paid a lot for this car and I wasn't going to listen to it even though the radio easily drowned it out. Tesla agreed that it was an abnormal and replaced it, no questions asked. The other issue was the low speed steering click.
I've had no battery issues(12v or main). All 4 doors, frunk and hatch get a workout multiple times a day without issue. No tire wear/alignment issues but then again I have an S85.

Being one of the first 5,000, I expected flaws and growing pains but I am left more and more impressed with their quality. I am especially impressed with their eagerness to understand and correct any flaws, no matter how trivial.


Supporting Member
Mar 24, 2013
Seminole, Florida, United States
Yeah. Not to get weird or anything. A test drive is definitely great and it clearly sells the car more so than a test drive in any other car. When you drive it for a while it starts to feel like a sentient being. Almost as if your two guys working together to get somewhere and have a great time doing it. Like a great pet instead of just a vehicle.

K, I'll shut up before the guys with the butterfly nets get here. :smile:
Other than the reference to butterfly nets, I agree. :wink: I made the mistake once of telling my bf that if I could hug my car, I would... likely cause a call to my family to start planning the intervention!


Almost a wagon
Aug 11, 2013
I can't speak yet for the reliability of a Model S but I have found I could only rely on ICE's that were up to a few years old (except for one Honda which lasted about 10). Let me see, I've…run out of gas in winter because the sensor failed, i've almost run out of gas because the a digital meter went from 15 miles left to zero in the span of 5 miles driven, had water pump failure on the highway, overheated on the highway because it was summer and the radiator was old, run from a non-traumatic spontaneously combusting VW Beetle where the frunk and the cabin burned, set out in the morning to find I no longer had reverse or fifth gear, narrowly avoided a fire when the engine would not turn off after the key was removed and there were some sparks flying under the hood, had an in-line six engine drop a cylinder because of a plugged valve, lost traction on black ice and crashed in a pileup, gotten stranded in a Wisconsin park in the winter because of cracked plastic battery terminals, had high-speed tire tread failure after having to skid to a stop behind some rubberneckers, could not fill a gas tank because of a plugged/frozen vent pipe, reached around with a long scraper to keep the windshield clear after the heater broke down in the middle of a winter's night, and had to total a car because replacement air suspension parts were no longer available. Oh, and how could I forget all the terrifying oil changes; remember when the Honda Civic with bursting into flames because of the double gasket on the oil filter?

Squeaks and stuck doorhandles sound pretty minor by comparison.

I'm looking forward to the day when I can drive a car with far fewer moving parts, that sports amazing traction, comes with excellent customer support included, and has a reassuring voice to tell me to pull over and get out before it burns.


Aug 5, 2013
ON, Canada
All my ICE cars had all kinds of issues, the worst being a failed fuel pump in the middle of the cold winter night. So far Tesla has been an exception: it works really well and I fully trust the car and the service. 99% of owners would by again according to Consumer Reports. This is unseen for every other brand, think about it. The online forums do not represent the customer satisfaction very well sometimes giving a wrong impression.

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