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Tesla and reliability


Active Member
May 26, 2016
Orange County CA
Both true delta and consumer reports present tesla as having serious reliability issues.

True Delta shows that on average 60 out 100 Model S produced in 2015 made a trip to the SC for repair. Apparently that is the worse statistics of any car maker.

Could someone please inform briefly non owners like myself and others? I am especially interested in the expensive issues that are not covered by the 8 year infinite mile warranty.

- What are the common issues?
- are the common issues covered by the standard warranty?
- how much does it cost to fix the common issues once the standard warranty runs out?

In general, would you believe the car can be kept beyond the standard warranty without expecting majors expenses ?


Patrick W

Active Member
Mar 17, 2015
Anything made by humans is going to have the occasional flaw. And anything cutting edge made by humans will probably initially have more.

I've had my S a bit over a year. The only "problems" I've had was the frunk needing to be lubricated and a door handle starting to act up. Both were quickly taken care of. No charge of course.

There are reports of truly serious problems but they do not appear to be common. And some of those appear to be caused by driver error

Bottom line, 16 months and nearly 50,000 km later, would I buy the car if I had to do it over again? No question. Safest vehicle I've ever owned and a true joy to drive.

BTW, I've got a Model 3 on order.


Out of warranty...
Supporting Member
Oct 22, 2012
Santa Barbara/New York
My 2012 has been extremely reliable. Service is excellent - far better than I've experienced with any other car. Everything covered under warranty. I've not had a penny extra expense beyond tires. Service visits are a pleasure, and they generally give loaners. Biggest widely reported issue is drivetrain noise. Tesla's approach is to swap out drive unit and re-manufacture old unit centrally at factory. Swap is a 2 hour procedure, covered under warranty. Battery and drive unit are warranted 8 years. Standard warranty is 4 years, with additional 4 years available.

It is too early to know post warranty costs, as only a few high mileage cars are now out of warranty. Model S just started delivery late 2012.

I have a theory why reported service may be frequent: service experience is so positive that you are inclined to bring it in for any issue.

As a footnote, I would not take true delta seriously, as I truly question their sample size as well as the fact that their sample may be biased towards people with issues.

Someone will probably weigh in with more negative view, but I believe if you spend a few hours trawling this forum, you will see that most owners are happy with quality and service.

Sir Guacamolaf

The good kind of fat
Mar 15, 2016
Not in a Tesla
Mine is > 1 year old, zero issues. I did buy ESA.

Also consider that some of us take advantage of service because it is so excellent. Every minor creak or noise, and we run to the service center. Other car dealers would ask you to buzz off for something so minor.
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Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
Merced, CA
I've had nothing serious go wrong but it has had more problems than any car I've ever owned.

1) Vibration during acceleration - Front half shafts replaced (it was a bad CV joint). Two repair attempts. I told them it was the CV joint. They said it was the mounting bracket for the front drive and they said the fixed it by adjusting. Second repair attempt they said it was the CV joint. Duh!

2) Rear drive unit leak.....twice and fixed twice. Hoping it doesn't happen a third time.

3) Failing to close roof.

4) Various creaks, rattles, and wind noise. 3 attempts so far to fix the triangle window noise without success. I shove a microfiber towel in the triangle corner which stops the wind noise. My wife is constantly jabbing me about why I have to do that on a $100K+ car.

5) 3g constantly drops out for hours at a time in the middle of the Bay Area where my AT&T 3g GSM gps tracker still gets a strong 3g signal. I'm convinced AT&T is prioritizing connections of their actual cell customers over Teslas. Tesla has suggested that they could fix the problem by upgrading to LTE...if I pay the $500 upgrade fee. Nice.

6) Map freezes, lost maps, and various other glitches including frozen voice control. Always fixable with a reset but it's annoying.

I'm not surprised about the 60%. Also CR dropped the Model S from their recommended list due to reliability issues.
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Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jul 24, 2015
Clark Co, WA
This is only my second new car, but I drove the first one for 24 years. I've had mine 2months and there is nothing going on that will need service other than my own doing. I ordered the cloth seats and they hurt both our necks. I'm going to replace them with next gen when I get a bit ahead on funds. Tesla has offered to give me next gen seats for only $500 more than if I had ordered them with the car, which I think is a great deal.

The car is solidly built, quiet, very reliable. I thought it had developed a rattle, but it turned out to be something metallic floating around in the backseat rattling against something hard. The HPWC went weird one day (car got error messages every time I plugged it in), but toggling the breaker fixed it and I haven't seen any problems with it since.

By this time I had taken my old Buick back in for a list of minor issues.

Looking at the Model S's reliability over time, the 2012/2013s had a lot of problems, mostly fit and finish. The 2014s had fewer problems, but from what I've been seeing, the 2015s and 2016s are very reliable.

The problem with those self reporting measures like True Delta, it's more likely someone who did have problems will post to one of those sites than someone who had no problems. I've also seen people here complain about picky little details I wouldn't even think of taking the car in for. There seems to be an attitude with some Tesla owners at least that if the car is going to cost that much, they are going to be uber anal about every little imperfection, no matter how minor.

The Tesla Service is very conscientious. When I picked up my car it looked like a bit of red paint got into the white paint under the frunk lid. It was underneath and while I pointed it out, it wasn't that big a deal to me. They took it over to the SC and worked on it for about 45 minutes. They apologized profusely for not getting all of it and they would have a paint specialist come in when I brought the car back for service. I looked and couldn't find any traces of the red. They still think they are there though. Maybe I could find them with a magnifying glass.


Active Member
Dec 17, 2012
Cary, NC
As far as truedelta goes, even if people on there tend to have more issues than average, that is true for all auto makers so shouldn't punish Tesla in some way.

Even if you go back to CR data, the primary problem is "body and frame" which I take to mean rattles. My 2015 with 25k miles and 16 months has been in once. That once was the armrest had come loose. It was a little loose right away and got worse so I finally took it in.

Now I have this tiny vent rattle that I can probably just fix myself. But I really want a X loaner or perhaps a P90DL. So I need to schedule an appointment...... Seriously. I honestly might not report that to truedelta.

So excellent service and fancy loaners does represent a problem.

The biggest after warranty concern is the that we are beholden to Tesla pricing since alternatives are rare. But given that time has past and there are now lots of out of warranty cars, there really aren't that many postings about terrible repair costs. Most have been modest. I think the biggest annoyance is the door handles. I'm positive that an aftermarket alternative will come here early - and newer cars have redesigned handles that are much better.


Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jan 26, 2016
Palmdale, CA
This thread might be helpful: How much has your Model S cost you out of warranty?

I plan to buy a CPO Tesla, but probably not drive it much past its warranty. The repair prices for things I have seen here have been very high. And since Tesla is the only repair option, those prices aren't going down anytime soon.

I thought I was pretty stoic about this stuff after having owned a Lexus and paying their prices for things ($600 for a spark plug change!), but paying up to $800 a door handle blows that out of the water. Not sure I could handle a SAS repair cost on even one wheel without blowing an internal gasket.
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Active Member
Feb 6, 2016
The Consumers Report and other data referenced above should be considered in context.

For example, Consumer Reports' own surveys found that Tesla Model S ranked highest of all cars in customer satisfaction. Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S Rated #1 In Customer Satisfaction

British publication AutoExpress found the same thing -- in fact the Model S received the highest marks they ever recorded for customer satisfaction: Tesla Model S tops important owner satisfaction survey with a score of 97%

Prentzler found the same thing. Prenzler Survey Finds 92% of Tesla Owners Will Buy Again Interestingly, only 24% of Model S owners said they would even consider buying an ICE again.

Also, Strategic Vision, which considers not just the number of quality issues but their severity, recently rated Model S highest overall quality of any vehicle in the industry. Tesla Model S Best Model: Strategic Vision's 2016 Total Quality List

Tesla's quality will continue to improve as it matures and gains manufacturing experience, but based on the available data Tesla owners are very happy with their cars and overall experience.
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Mar 25, 2016
Markham, Ontario
With any high tech product and service three things are always true.

'Machines break, SW has bugs and people make mistakes.'

Outages are tracked using service levels and remedies are provided when the levels cannot be met. I would say that for our 2015 S85D the service level has been 99.9%. The few times when something didn't work it was corrected with an overnight SW update.

No complaints and my only visit to a Service Centre was for them to tug on the front seat belts which I had already done at home.


Out of warranty...
Supporting Member
Oct 22, 2012
Santa Barbara/New York
One addition to my other comments: most Tesla buyers buy the 4 year prepaid service plan. It includes 1 service per year. What the car actually needs in scheduled maintenance is laughably tiny: wipers and remote batteries. But they also do a thorough once over and correct TSBs. I suspect a lot of owners want to get their prepaid service money's worth so they bring it in for any little thing under warranty. This could also distort stats.

@EinSV makes a great point: service visit frequency should be taken in context of owner satisfaction and inclination to buy Tesla again. On these, ratings are astronomical.


Sep 17, 2015
the early models had some build quality control issues, some 12v battery issues and drive unit issues. all of which tesla took care of.
my new model s through 12k miles has been just about flawless.


Active Member
Sep 25, 2014
Ontario, Canada
My 2014 hasn't been perfect but it's been vastly better than the two Audis that I've owned. That's an amazing accomplishment for a brand new company designing a new vehicle from scratch.


Oct 1, 2015
La Habra Heights, CA
I have a 2013 CPO I picked up a year ago with 35k miles on it. I've put an additional 12k miles since. I had a 12v no-start condition due to a faulty junction box interlock switch - took them a couple tries to find it but it's resolved. Yesterday I took it in for a pretty significant "clunk" from the rear end. Tech said its not a typical drive unit issue, more like a bad motor mount. They are keeping the car. I should get it back on Tuesday as my service center is a bit backed up. All this has been / will be covered by warranty. I recently took a road trip from Los Angeles to Portland, OR and back. Car was great, but it rained in OR and I noted water coming from the inside of the hatchback when I opened it.

Reliability has been less than stellar but I will never drive anything else.
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No Gas Know Peace
Nov 11, 2015
Los Angeles, CA
Not sure if the "reliability issues" in the survey include computer glitches but after 11k miles the only issue I had was a computer issue that was fixed remotely. It took some time to finally resolve but that was mainly due to the fact I parked underground (with no cell coverage) during the day and the techs could never talk to my car when they wanted to fix the problem. For the record I'm not aware of any other car maker that can fix issues remotely. Anybody else and you make a trip to the dealer.


Active Member
Aug 1, 2014
Lemont, IL
My Models S has had no more issues then any other car I have had. Tesla service response has been far better then my previous experience with both our Mercedes and BMW service. We have been especially nit picky about our Tesla. Things that we would have let go because service was a pain we have took care of immediately. Nothing at all has been major at all. The most serious issue was one of the keys having not working regularly. The most annoying has been the leather on the steering wheel not staying tight where it meets the center of the steering wheel. Tesla replaced the steering wheel once because of this and it is peeling away again slightly. Tesla said they just send the steering wheel back to the supplier and give you a new one.


Active Member
Jul 21, 2015
Greenville, SC
I can tell you that my Model S is going to have to try very hard to have more problems that what I have had with my BMW i3. The biggest issue with the i3 though is the dealer. There are several issues that should be addressed right now but the dealer is so bad I'm not bothering with them and will just let them be someone else's problem when I turn the car in in a few weeks.


Active Member
May 26, 2016
Orange County CA
Are you guys planning to keep the car past the end of the factory warranty?

Are you planning to buy the extended warranty, and are the issues discussed covered by the extended warranty?



Active Member
May 26, 2016
Orange County CA
I see some pretty big issues covered here. I do consider a rattle issue as a serious issue. I know something like this can be very costly to fix as it can require a lot of labor hours to identify root cause. Also I know it's something that could definitely make it difficult to sell the car.

That said.. Rattles usually show up in the first 10 or 20k miles and once addressed are gone for good. Is that your personal experience or do they keep coming back?

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