In Regards To Reliability, You Could Fare Much Worse Than The Tesla Model S


The January 2016 issue of Consumer Reports puts Model S reliability into some context. Here are the reliability ratings for any vehicles that could be construed as Tesla competitors (a stretch in some cases, but just go with it, dammit). Any conspicuously absent models were simply not rated, for lack of data.

Consumer Reports' Tesla Model S P85D

Consumer Reports’ Tesla Model S P85D

Of course, looking beyond this one metric, Tesla’s customer satisfaction could not be rosier despite the hiccups.

Much better than average:
Audi A4
Audi Q3
BMW 2 Series
Lexus (anything)
Toyota (anything)

Better than average
Audi A5
Audi A6
Audi A7
Porsche 911
Porsche Cayenne
Porsche Boxster

Audi A3
Cadillac CTS
Hyundai Genesis sedan
Infiniti Q70
Mercedes E-Class
Mercedes GLE-Class

Worse than average:
BMW 5 Series
BMW i3
Cadillac XTS
Tesla Model S
Porsche Cayman
Porsche Macan

Much worse than average:
Acura RLX
Cadillac ATX
Cadillac Escalade
Chevy Corvette
Chevy Suburban
Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon
Chrysler 300
Dodge Challenger
Infiniti Q50
Infiniti QX60
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Mercedes CLA
Mercedes C-Class
Mercedes GL-Class
Mercedes S-Class

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on Check it (and other stories of interest) out here.

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36 Comments on "In Regards To Reliability, You Could Fare Much Worse Than The Tesla Model S"

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This article isn’t finished. The “S”, currently is ‘not recommended’. Who knows what it will be a month from now when CR staff decides to try to run the stock price up again?

How many other cars are ‘not recommended’ ? No comparison, from the info given here, can be made.

ALL of the cars rated as worse than average or below are not recommended.

SOME of the cars rated average or above may not be recommended, but we don’t know which, or even if there are any, without more information.

How many are not recommended?

CR’s policy is not to recommend any cars that score below average. Therefore about half of all cars sold cannot be recommended by CR.


My MS has been very reliable. I think it’s CR with a below average reliability…



Consumer Reports bases their findings on customer surveys. Many of the issues were squeaks and rattles. These are much more noticeable in electric cars because they are so quiet. Most of the Model S cars are located around the Bay Area. The roads around the Bay Area are the worst in the country. Every car driven on them rattles and squeaks. Other cars would receive fewer complaints because they have a smaller percentage of vehicles located in the Bay Area and their engines cover up rattles and squeaks.

“The roads around the Bay Area are the worst in the country.”

Really? Most areas with harsh winters would disagree with you. In the snow belt, freeze/thaw cycles and road-salt/calcium-chloride/magnesium-chloride destroy the roads. Two years ago after a harsh winter, driving on the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey was like driving on the surface of the moon. The Bay Area definitely ain’t the pothole capital of the U.S.A..

Consumer Reports gives greater weight to serious issues.

Citation needed.

Consumer Reports’ Car Reliability FAQ:

“Are all problems considered equally serious?”

“Problems with the engine-major, cooling system, transmission-major, and driveline are more likely to take a car out of service and to be more expensive to repair than the other problem areas. Consequently, we weigh these areas more heavily in our calculations of Used Car Verdicts and Predicted Reliability. Problems in any area can be an expense and a bother, though, so we report them all in the Reliability History charts.”

This is just feeding the preconceived narrative of fanboys who want to believe that the Model S isn’t one of the worst cars for reliability. The CR surveys are just surveys, and once a year ones at that. Not that reliable.

If you look at Truedelta, which tracks repairs on a quarterly basis so it’s less likely to be affected by time, what you’ll find is that the Model S is remarkably unreliable. Contrary to the CR survey, Truedelta shows that the BMW Model 5 is vastly more reliable than the Model S. I didn’t bother to check the others because it’s not worth the time.

As they say, denial is not a river in Egypt.

15 months, 33,000 miles.

Nothing I would consider a problem.

How do you think Truedelta gets their results. It’s also by surveys. I see absolutely no evidence they will be more “reliable” than Consumer reports. Rather it seems you just picked something that fits your own narrative.

DonC said:

“If you look at Truedelta, which tracks repairs on a quarterly basis so it’s less likely to be affected by time, what you’ll find is that the Model S is remarkably unreliable.”

As I recall, DonC, you brought this highly questionable assertion up earlier, and your assertion was thoroughly refuted at that time. So are you merely being stubborn here, or are you posting Tesla-hating FUD?

It was already pointed out to you that the data from Truedelta isn’t a random sample, nor are the number of Model S reports a statistically meaningful sample. It was just a relative handful of people seeking out a place to complain about something.

Comparing results of the Consumer Reports survey, a detailed survey of 600+ Model S owners, is like comparing a Gallup poll to the feedback you get from posting a question to your Facebook page.

The comparison is downright absurd.

It doesn’t do Tesla any favors to try and rationalize or explain away their reliability problems.

If this were GM would people be making excuses for them?

Building cars is hard. Tesla is a young company. They still have a lot to learn.

The problem is you’re trying to argue with the Tesla fan boys here. They will try to skew anything you say.

Tesla is an amazing company, but these are hard facts and I’m sure Tesla is working very hard to change this in the future.

Actually they are not hard facts, they are based on surveys which is hardly factual.

I do take your point about the minimization of problems, but this a standard technique of argumentation, and both sides do it.
To every Tesla detractor any mole-hill is blown into a mountain, and vice-versa for the fanboi’s.

I’d rather have an exciting car that has a few flaws than a bullet proof one (reliability-wise) that is boring (we all know which ones those are). That said, getting unexpectedly stranded is no fun, so there is a limit to how much slack I’m willing to give.

It is kind of funny/sad that Consumer Reports had a door issue that they made such a big deal about a short while back. I remember a co-worker once bought a Dodge Van, and one day got in and put it in gear, but it would not budge! (Yes, of course, he started the engine first!) And there are many people who have had regular cars door locks freeze up in the winter – locking them out of the car.

If I remember the CR issue, it was only the drivers door handles not presenting on approach and Tesla Service was at there place and fixed it the very next day.

I wonder what consumer reports would rate the Airbus 320 that crashed at an Airshow because it wanted to land and pilots wanted to just do a low pass!!
Not even a revenue flight, yet more crew died in that fireball than in 90,000 Tesla Model S in service! Curious!

Actually, only three people aboard the Airbus 230 died when it crashed at the Habsheim airshow in 1988, while at least three people have died as passengers in the Model S.

I like how you cherry pick to fit even your lamest arguments…

While saying 3 died is indeed true, it’s also equally true that the exact same extreme situations would also be unsurvivable in any other passenger sedan on the planet. In fact, there would be a lot less left to pick through.

I’m glad you like it. I aim to please. 😀

But how am I cherry picking? The whole premise of that last paragraph was that more people died in that single plane accident than in 90,000 Model S’s. Anyway, in an article about the reliability of the Model S, what’s the relevance of the relative safety of a Model S? Deflection from the Model S’s reliability issues?

Anon said:
“. . . unsurvivable in any other passenger sedan on the planet.”

I’m not so sure about that. When a Prius drove off a 300-foot cliff, the driver survived.

Today is a good day for picking cherries! My lameness is set to Ludicrous Mode! 😀

Oops, I forgot to mention that two of the three Tesla deaths were from driving off cliffs, the same “extreme situations” that you referred to.

sven said:

“When a Prius drove off a 300-foot cliff, the driver survived.”

You’ve done an apples-to-oranges comparison, altho you probably didn’t realize it. In one of the videos you linked to, you can clearly see what is a middling-steep slope… not the sheer cliff above a canyon which the Model S plunged into.

If the Model S had bounced down that slope like the Prius did, instead of doing a nose-dive into the ground at the bottom of a canyon, likely the driver would have survived… perhaps even without serious injury.

“Middling-steep slope”? Really? You’d say anything to defend Tesla no matter how untrue it might be.

“If the Model S had bounced down that slope like the Prius did, . . . likely the driver would have survived… perhaps even without serious injury.”

It just so happens that in one of the other Tesla fatalities the Model S went off a “cliff”, which you would describe as a “middling-steep slope”, next to the Pacific Ocean just like the Prius driver. Unlike the Prius driver, the Tesla driver didn’t survive driving down the “middling-steep slope.” That’s an apples-to-apples comparison, as you would say.

sven said:

“You’d say anything to defend Tesla no matter how untrue it might be.”

Seriously, dude? You actually went there? One need only to look at my comments in this very comment thread to see that’s very far from the truth.

sven, I don’t know if you’re one of those who has some ulterior motive, either financial or political, for posting Tesla-hating FUD, ignoring actual facts in favor of distortions, half-truths, and outright lies. In most of your comments, you don’t appear to be trolling. But then you post something like this… and again I wonder about you.

As you probably know, Tesla’s with autopilot hardware now have auto brake. A very welcome development.

No one died in the Tesla. As someone posted up there the deaths so far in a Tesla is from crashing off a cliff and I believe also on incident where the car was stolen and the thieves didn’t have their seatbelt on.

The A320 didn’t think it was trying to land, it was preventing the aircraft from entering a stall after it had been intentionally placed in a dangerous position.

The pilots were showing off at 30 ft altitude with a 15 degree angle of attack and flying at 122 knots… all while being responsible for 130+ souls.

Four seconds. From application of go around power to impact with trees, just 4 seconds. That’s how long they gave the aircraft to respond to avoid a disaster.

If all they did was not disable alpha floor, the aircraft would have applied TOGA power automatically and no one would have died.

If all they did was not drop below 100 ft, they would have had sufficient altitude to clear the trees and no one would have died

If all they did was stay at a higher speed and lower angle of attack, flight envelope protection wouldn’t have kicked in when they realized they were going to crash, and no one would have died.

I’m surprised the Q50 does so bad. If I remember correctly, the G35 it replaced was fairly reliable.

If you remember “Revenge of the Electric Car”, Musk supposedly was going to make heads roll for anyone responsible for substandard parts in the Roadster. An example was even in the film: Musk gets out of the Roadster and says “My Key fell apart again”. That apparently is a common problem with the Roadster, seeing as all my keys ‘fell apart’. I jerry-rigged the solution since I felt it was one of the things that would never get fixed otherwise. But let’s see, what parts in my Tesla (there was one in the Movie that showed the ‘1000 th Roadster’. I had one of the later US ones at #1333. 1). Passenger door switch 4 times. 2). Driver door switch 3 times. 3). Cooling fan motor 5 times (the first one worked just fine but tesla insisted on changing it out as a precaution. I wanted to keep it for a spare, but they said that would violate the warranty agreement. Since the service center tried violating it on more than one occassion I was a bit miffed that they were the only ones allowed to violate it. Then next 4 fans were much worse than the original. 3). Trunk… Read more »

Wow. Now I know why you sold your roadster.

Off topic: In case you haven’t seen this, I came across the NYISO website, which gives real time info on NYS’s electricity prices, supply, and demand. It’s quite fascinating.

Be sure to click on the buttons or local grids in the map, and also check out the tabs on top of the map:

“…You Could Fare Much Worse Than The Tesla Model S”

Okay, but “you could do worse” isn’t exactly a recommendation.

Consumer Reports lowering their reliability rating on the Model S doesn’t stop me from being a fan of Tesla Motors, but they certainly need to work on their quality control.

I wonder how the Leaf fared in this ranking. Quick! Another article!