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First-Hand Experience With A Tesla Model S – Awesome, But Definitely Not Perfect – Video

5 months ago by Eric Loveday 29

Marques Brownlee of YouTube fame is the proud owner of a Tesla Model S.

Tesla Model S Not Quite Perfect

Tesla Model S Not Quite Perfect

While he often rants and raves of his S, this video has a rather different take.

Video description:

“Storytime! Apollo/P100D has been awesome, but not quite perfect…”

Brownlee’s experience may not be the norm, but as he describes it, his Tesla has frozen (loss of power, failure to move) on several occasions. This is a dangerous situation, as Brownlee explains, and it’s one that has led to recall of lots of other electric cars out there.

He’s been more than satisfied with the level of service Tesla has provided, but experiencing multiple problems on a high-end, new car isn’t what we (or Brownlee) would expect and even though he absolutely loves the car when it operates correctly, he seems a bit put off by the constant issues he’s experienced thus far.

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30 responses to "First-Hand Experience With A Tesla Model S – Awesome, But Definitely Not Perfect – Video"

  1. Fred says:

    No, I wouldn’t. Because I love cars and technology and science. And so I like to understand what goes wrong and why. If there would be 10 different issues recurring every year, than it’s fair to say that, generaly, we’re not talking about a very good product. But this problem is clearly a misterious one, even to the engineers who designed it (otherwise they wouldn’t fly a specialist in. So here’s what I would do : insist on talking to the engineers, and have them explain EXACTLY what they think is wrong with the system, and WHY! If you let go of the car for this issue alone, than you might be missing out on a brilliant ownership experience (or not, but you’ll never know).

  2. Michael Will says:

    We have had a 90D model X since May. Awesome but definitely not perfect is true, but in comparison to the legacy gas cars out there it so so far advanced above and beyond what that used to be that there is no way I would go back. And at no point in time did I feel like it was unsafe. I did reboot the computer once while driving. But it did not affect anything other than radio/gps etc on the big screen, the core features just worked like they should. Let me just let another owner speak here:

    From a member of the Model X (electric car) user group: “Since being a X owner for the past 5 weeks, I still have my 2014 Merc ML 350 and the other day when I drove my beloved merc, it truly felt like a piece of crap, the nav screen was not worthy to look at, rear view camera was way too hazy, uncomfortable seats and weird brakes, excessive engine noise to name a few. But it was my baby for the last two years , I loved it. But now it is like a curse sitting in my garage . Thanks Tesla , thank you God for letting us drive Tesla in our life time.”.

    Your perspective just changes once you drive electric, it is like going from a land line to a smart phone.

    1. Michael Will says:

      Besides performance and handling in the rain, what gets me are the little things. When I drive a non-tesla car I am like: Why do I have to press a button to turn this on, its already unlocked and I could just go into drive or reverse and my intent should be clear? And why do I have to lean out and close my own door 😉

      1. ffbj says:

        Yeah, they crossed a diamond with a pearl and showed it to the world. Hard to go back to the past once you have tasted the future.

    2. Shai H says:

      I had the same experience awhile back moving from the 2001 ML320 to a 2004 Honda PILOT 🙂 Mercedes MLs are terrible objectively, not just compared to the great Tesla’s…

  3. ffbj says:

    Probably an intermittent short, caused by the steering wheel being turned. Rubbing against something in the wiring harness, which over time results in a short which loses all power to the steering.

    1. William says:

      If it is in the wiring harness, then Tesla will want to study the build of your vehicle very closely, to see if it is a material handling or installation issue, during the vehicle assembly line process. Probably not a manufacturing defect on the wiring harness, but they will get down to the root cause.

  4. Loboc says:

    At least my ELR has issues that can wait until the next service interval.

    – loose trim. They had to replace it all.
    – mis-aligned passenger window was hitting said trim. (I rarely have passengers, so, no biggie to me.) I had a work-around: Don’t roll up the window with the door open.
    – Center screen went blank one day for no reason. Never happened again in two years. It was really, really humid and rainy that day.Didn’t affect driving.

    Nothing like these Tesla owners are reporting. I also got a no-charge loaner.

    If mine was in the shop twice in 5k miles, I’d be thinking about a replacement or lemon law claim. Especially something as important as steering.

  5. syd says:

    I wish toyota fixed my prior car, it had an issue that reocurred every winter and the dealer said basically, “We can’t reproduce it” The problem remains in the car. At least Tesla has always said “We’ll fix it”. Note: Every car has dealers/service centers mis-diagnosing problems. I think yours fits into that situation, the first fix wasn’t the real problem. I look at the overall number of repairs on a Tesla, and I think they need improvement, but are improving.

  6. Nix says:

    “experiencing multiple problems on a high-end, new car isn’t what we (or Brownlee) would expect”

    Well, no matter what the car, no matter who it is built by, I certainly would expect that some small percent of car owners absolutely and inevitably WILL experience problems like this.

    It is the inevitable and absolutely normal reality of manufacturing. Somebody will get a problem car with something that wasn’t caught during inspections. Everybody hopes it isn’t THEM who gets the car that needs fixes, but that’s doesn’t change the statistics.

    In fact it is so well known that car companies are rated in “Problems per 100 Vehicles” as a metric. No car maker has zero problems per 100 vehicles.

    And the car being expensive certainly doesn’t guarantee a low number of problems per 100 cars. In fact, some of the companies making the most expensive cars are rated in the middle to bottom of some of these lists. Kia actually was the latest winner on one of these lists.

    There are going to be cars from every car maker that have problems. A good car maker makes it easy for the customer to get them fixed, and if they can’t fix it, a good car maker offers a voluntary buy-back. I hope Tesla is able to resolve his problems quickly and get him back into the happy zone.

  7. AlphaEdge says:

    It’s too bad and unfortunate, especially considering the cost of this car, but I would simply give them another chance to fix it. I don’t know, I think I would feel good about being part of the process of helping them isolate, and fix a problem, even though it’s an inconvenience.

    Just be incredibly glad you can easily afford and drive a Tesla.

  8. pjwood1 says:

    He’s a sample set of 1

    This is the first I’ve heard of power steering cutting out. At least the wheel isn’t locking (Cough).

    There’s a common issue with the lateral supports of the Next Gen seats rubbing on the center console. They have a fix for this. There’s an issue with the seat belts potentially being loose. They have a fix. Noise in the rear drive train. Fixed. Window weatherstripping – pathetically simple DIY. -I think final QC issues were a problem, but so much of this video is small stuff. I hope Tesla chases out the steering gremlin.

    Falcon wing doors are falcon wind doors.

  9. CLIVE says:

    I’d simply wait for strike 3 and then i’d want a new car.

  10. Chris says:

    As an airplane guy, this kind of stuff happens with the modern computer/jets more often than the old analog jets from the 60’s-80’s. modern jets have computers that tell the mechanic what failed. In the old days they had to trouble shoot to find the offending component. but when a problem is intermittent and brief like this one it may not trigger anything in the magic box and on the ground after landing the problem is gone. So maintenance clears the write up with “grounds checks ok, could not duplicate” what else can they do as they always say I can’t fix something that is not broken.

    Now we have massive reduancy in our planes so no big deal, but not so much in our cars with steering so it is good that Tesla is flying in an engineer for this one. i’m pretty sure this is not mechanical but involves electrons and an intermittent short like another commentor surmised. Hope they are able to find it and fix it fast.

  11. Fred says:

    On the other hand. They better find and fix this problem if they want to get full autonomy apporoved.

  12. Bill Howland says:

    Yeah this stuff has a familiar ring to it. Different problems than I had with my Roadster, but the same in that there was continual work that always needed to be done.

    Fortunately, Tesla’s power train warranty is getting pretty good. Unfortunately for him, the steering, which could be considered a ‘safety’ issue and therefore the warranty might be extended a bit, might also not since its not really the power train.

    So I’d turn the question back to him:

    “When the main car is out of warranty, how much do you feel like spending every few months?”

  13. tosho says:

    Guess this dude has not owned many new cars. And I would not qualify a power steering loss that they could not fix the first time as “many issues”.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      That is why this should be an issue of major concern. Not everyone is an athlete who can overpower the unit and complete the turn.

      Others have reported this same type of problem, that of unexpected steering loss. If it were a gradual thing, or the driver knew precisely when it was going to happen, then the driver could compensate for it. But apparently the thing dies at the absolute worst time.

      Its these kinds of things that are indeed worrysome – these are bigger safety issues than I have had with my roadster…

      In the Roadster, the battery was SAFE (actually the humans in a crash would give up their lives to protect the battery). But the S is the only vehicle I’m aware of since the Ford Pinto which explodes on Impact.

      “…Pu-Pu said:
      “Of course, as with every one of the few battery fires in Tesla cars, it was slow to start, and if there was anyone in the car, he or she had plenty of time to exit safely.”

      That’s BS. The guy in the Indianapolis crash burned to death in his Tesla. The witness in the video said: “It hit that tree and it bounced around and all of a sudden it just exploded.”

      http://www.wthr.com/article/one-person-killed-in-crash-north-of-downtown

      Drive train issues have basically been taken care of with an 8 year warranty.

      But there is the familiar refrain of the “S” constantly needing mundane service for one reason or another – wheels falling off, etc. Trim problems, fit problems and door trouble, whereas of the above issues, the only thing the Roadster had was Door Issues.

      So I don’t know where they are ultimately going with this.

      People in general that we are trying to convince to buy an electrified vehicle may not remember various makes and models.

      They may say “If this is what and electric car does, I’ll NEVER buy one”, when the GENERATION 1 volt is the safest car ever made – but no sales will ever be made to that person.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Bill Howland said:

        “That’s BS. The guy in the Indianapolis crash burned to death in his Tesla. The witness in the video said: “It hit that tree and it bounced around and all of a sudden it just exploded.”

        http://www.wthr.com/article/one-person-killed-in-crash-north-of-downtown

        I was unaware of this shocking tragedy.

        However, Bill, just because you found one single exception to my assertion, that doesn’t make it “B.S.” Clearly I was mistaken when I said “every one” of the fires in Tesla cars. However, if I had said “all but one or two”, then my assertion would, so far as I know, have been correct. I say “or two” because I do remember that when a thief driving a stolen Model S had the car become airborne and it was sliced in half by a pole, and witnesses said that battery cells which came out of the car were exploding like firecrackers. I don’t think that started a fire, but it could have.

        “…there is the familiar refrain of the ‘S’ constantly needing mundane service for one reason or another – wheels falling off…”

        Seriously, you’re repeating the “wheels falling off” smear campaign started by someone who is mentally deranged, with a personal grudge against Elon Musk; the same person who claimed that videos of SpaceX rockets landing on their tails were “faked”?

        Well, I suppose that’s the sort of B.S. we’ve come to expect from you, Bill; you also also claimed that Tesla is required to have a safety shutoff switch on its Superchargers, but — according to you — “Somehow Tesla has avoided this due to being ‘special’”.

        Now that is B.S.! In fact, it’s P.H.D.: Piled Higher and Deeper.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Here’s the link to Bill’s tinfoil-hat post regarding the Tesla Supercharger emergency shutoff switch, for anyone who doubts he actually made that claim:

          http://insideevs.com/tesla-elon-musk-increasing-capacity-supercharger-locations-top-priority/#comment-1128147

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Pushi I don’t know about you, I try to be polite to you and give you the benefit of a doubt, but then you just constantly piss on me every chance you get.

            The that’s BS, and the link were from Sven.

            I’ve come to the conclusion that it is relatively pointless at least to get into any discussion where there is any disagreement or a technical discussion – since the electric requirements, that any intelligent kid could understand, are way over your 62-63 year old head to understand, – although you are surelymore intelligent than that SuperDope Nix who constantly went blathering on – when he had no real information to add, and was feigning familiarity with the subject matter.

            As SVEN has stated multiple times, you have no experience as a customer, and wildly criticize others’ opinions when you will not even take a risk on a very inexpensive used EV for a relative seeing as you no longer drive.

            That’s why I totally respect people like this guy and his ‘Apolo’ for spending a large sum of cash on the car and then honestly giving his unvarnished opinion.

            But flappy-gummed noise makers are a dime a dozen.

            If you had anything personally at risk I might feel differently, but you are rarely even NEAR an EV – unless you are just here to cause trouble.

        2. Bill Howland says:

          Pushi, – seriously – do you know and understand how to talk in a somewhat dignified manner?

          Do you ever have contact with Professional People that perform a service for you? Or do you just rent from a relative and you never have to have any contact with anyone remotely considered official at all?

          You don’t drive anymore so I’d assume you never have to go to a registration or license bureau and insult or be rude to the person there just trying to do their job.

          As far as the indianapolis issue goes – we are talking about a Dangerous, Serious issue.

          I thought you’d be able to handle the ramifications of a discussion about that – but I was wrong.

          Per the Officials on the scene, and previous ‘disaster training’ I’ve received, I know that there is more danger here as the fires are HOTTER, and projectiles sooner or later will enter a person.

  14. Scott says:

    The model S has been in production for years now. Why is it that I am still reading about common issues such as Trim fit and window alignment. That surprises me.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Replace the words “model S” with literally any car which is currently being mass produced and has been on the market for at least a few months, and I’m sure you can find people complaining on the Internet about similar problems with it.

      There is a reason why States have “lemon laws” for car buyers. Please note that those laws were in place before Tesla ever started selling cars.

  15. darth says:

    For comparison, I have had the telematics head unit on my Nissan Leaf spontaneously reboot a couple of times in 2 years. And the bluetooth audio interface with my phone is sometimes glitchy, but the car has never “Frozen” or failed to operate.

    1. Stan says:

      I have had issues with my X and S Tesla treats me better than any other car manufacture that I have experienced. I have owned Mercedes,Cadillacs and Lincolns. Every new car I have owned and there have been many have had issues for at least 6 months before they get solved. In one case, a Mercedes SL500. The interior lights would not shut off. After many, many, many attempts over 11 months to fix it Mercedes took it back and refunded my money. It was an miserable experience. My experience with Tesla is you do not get hasseld and they go beyond expectations to get it right

      1. Another (Euro) industrial point of view says:

        It is very clever of Tesla to do this, I think I would prefer a car with some glitches but with repair staff having a good attitude than an almost perfectly reliable car with repair & maintenance staff that treats you badly. Human factor, always.

      2. Bill Howland says:

        Well Stan, I have no experience with Mercedes my self, other than hearing friends’ experience of a reliable, several hundred thousand mile car. But it does seem that the most reliable Mercedes are the simpler, cheaper models and Mercedes gets into trouble with the more ‘flagship’ extremely high priced stuff. VW used to have severe reliability problems a decade ago – I’m unsure if they’ve patched that up – but to me its uncanny that Germans, who are usually so proud of their cars, would tolerate some of the crap coming from their companies.

        I rag on GM, but then most of their products are quite inexpensive by comparison, and, at least one has the satisfaction that with a GM product you are at least getting your money’s worth.

        I have had good experience and bad experience with the Roadster – most of the “Ranger Techs” actually felt sorry for me and did more for me than they actually had to. But then again, the Service Manager (of whom I could only contact by Phone) would hang up on me 1/10th of a second after he legally could. The car was eventually repaired but it took hundreds of calls to Tesla Corporate, and the service center manager(s), (one who quit in the middle of all this) to finally get everyone on the same page.

        Whereas, I have had relatively good luck with GM dealers – other than the very last one when I was quickly looking for a replacement EV and decided to buy used from a private owner instead.

  16. jim stack says:

    You have to post what they find. I agree 3 times and hey lets get replacement Tesla. But I think they will get it.

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