After 12,000 Miles, Is The Tesla Model 3 Still Reliable? Video

JAN 14 2019 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 40

When you’re splurging for a premium vehicle like the Tesla Model 3, reliability is critical.

With most first-generation vehicles, there are going to be some issues early on. This has been especially true of some Tesla cars. The company is very new in comparison to all other automakers and it’s making constant changes to its vehicles over time. So, is the Tesla Model 3 still reliable after 12,000 miles and about six months of ownership?

YouTube channel TeChExPo notes that its new Model 3 had some software issues in the first few weeks. This resulted in automatic emergency braking, traction control, and cruise control being disabled. Fortunately, Tesla was able to quickly fix the problems with a firmware update.

Additionally, the GPS system was not working properly, but Tesla pushed an additional update through to correct the issue. This was helpful to the owner, since the GPS works in tandem with Tesla Autopilot. The fact that the automaker pushed the early firmware update through meant that the fix was immediate. Otherwise, the owner would have had to wait some time until the next scheduled update. The Model 3 also had some minor panel alignment concerns, which the service center was able to fix as well.

Aside from these minor issues, which were all addressed immediately, this Model 3 has proven to be a fantastic and reliable vehicle. Just the fact that it’s an EV and will almost indefinitely start and run without fail — unlike some gas-powered cars — makes it a car you can count on.

The video goes on to highlight the Model 3’s strengths. Check it out and let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

Video Description via TeChExPo on YouTube:

Is the Model 3 Reliable? 12 Thousands Miles Later!

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40 Comments on "After 12,000 Miles, Is The Tesla Model 3 Still Reliable? Video"

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Is it reliable after 12K miles?
I should really, really hope so. The way most modern cars are made, 12K miles is a mere blip on the miles they should cover.
Even ICE’s should get well over 100K miles without difficulty. My last three did just that.
Citroen BX 19GTI did 176,000 miles before it was stolen and then written off.
Citroen Xantia suffered a major hydraulic failure at 210,000 miles Not worth repairing as it had the pump up suspension
Saab 95 Turbo blew the turbo at 110mph on a German Autobahn. 193,000 miles on the clock. (my silly fault…)

All of the above had little or no trips to the dealer for anything other than annual servicing. No warranty claims either.

The Saab was built in 2004 and vehicle manufacturing has come a long way since then so I’d hope that the reliability of a Model 3 was at least the same if not better than any of the above.

I would say for most cars the first year is one of the least reliable as manufacturing glitches get fixed. My Honda Clarity has been in 4 times for repairs in its first year. None stopped me. I had them done with regular maintenance, which is another issue with why a PHEV should need so many oil changes in 30k miles, defective/bad design for the Maintenance Minder.

Secondly, there is the main phase where the first owner owns the car, years 2-6 or so, where the car should be totally reliable. Most cars are reliable here.

Finally, there is the end of life phase of say 7-xx years where the cars long term reliability will show. This is also where corrosion starts to show in the midwest. I notice in the salt belt cars tend to corrode away before they have issues with long term reliability so corrosion resistance might be equally as important. This is where I see most variability between reliable and unreliable vehicles (the first owner often won’t see these problems regardless of vehicle).

There was an interesting analysis that indirectly measured reliability by ranking which 15 cars that original owners kept 15 years or longer. Toyota dominated the list with 10 out of 15 cars in the 2018 study (claiming 5 of the top 6 spots) and 9 out of 15 cars in the 2017 study (claiming the top 5 spots). Overall, Japanese cars held all 15 spots in the 2018 study, and 14 of the 15 spots in the 2017 study.

2018 study:
https://www.iseecars.com/cars-kept-15-years-2019-study

2017 study:
https://blog.iseecars.com/the-15-cars-owners-keep-for-15-years-or-more/

Then you had a lemon because my family has gone threw 3 Hondas one held and donated after 18 years another after 14 years both worked great another still going after 10 years with 0 issues outside of normal oil, fluid, and tire changes. That’s reliable.

He didn’t say Honda. He said Honda Clarity, the most advanced Honda built, with it’s latest technology.

Yep, the Honda Clarity that has, thus far, earned a 1/5, much worse than average rating, for the initial 2018 model, on the Consumer Reports reliability survey. Honda has got a lot of work to do. I sure hope Honda turns that around in a big way with the 2019 model, as I’d love to eventually buy a used one, but only if they pull that reliability up to average or better.

Surprisingly the Tesla Model 3 earned a 3/5, average, rating for 2018. I’m impressed.

So I guess my 16 year old Mitsubishi should be dead? Not really and very little non scheduled maintenance.

Reliable, maybe. But can you actually buy 12K miles Tesla Model 3? It seems X is very difficult.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8ro6kpKlw0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgMTx_xFezM

100,000 miles is where the boys start to get separated from the men reliability wise. Hopefully mine will stay rattle free and reliable well past that mileage.

I agree, but most people don’t even keep their vehicle that long. It will impact resale value a bit, but honestly not an issue for most buyers, which is why it took some brands a long time to improve reliability past 100,000 miles.

premium car owners typically trade out their cars between 3 – 5 years.

I read something this morning that China reduced the tariff on cars to 15% last month including Tesla. Is his true?

China reduced car tariffs to 15% last summer (July 1, I think). Very soon after they added a 25% penalty tariff (so 40% total) to US cars in retaliation for some Trump tariff. More recently, China agreed to suspend the 25% penalty tariff on US cars for 90 days (1/1-3/31, I think).

I know you’re dealing with some issues to be the first kid on the block with one and they are new company so I suppose some slack should be cut but if I bought a $20,000 car with that trim alignment I would reject it. the fact that they’re constantly changing it can be looked at as a good thing or it can be looked at as they didn’t get it right in the first place, I understand periodic updates but if I buy one now and my neighbor gets one two months later is his going to have half-dozen improvements that mine is lacking?

I’m personally at 22K miles. I know other people at 41K miles. Given that the car has been out for 19 months at this point, I expect there’s other people at 60K+ miles. So why are we talking with a guy that only has 12K miles? Anyways, at 22K miles, my issues have been: 1 – Door handles froze shut when I took it through an automatic car wash when it was 5 F out. High pressure water forced its way behind the handles and froze there. Not an actual issue – once it melted and I wiped the handles, it was all fine, and you could avoid this by just wiping the handles off immediately after the car wash. Tesla could make this less of an issue by providing a way to pop the doors open from the app. 2 – Headlights flicker for the first minute when it’s below 20 F. I’m told this is a software issue with 2018.50 and will be fixed in an update soon (I’m a bit surprised there’s nothing newer than that version… it’s ~4 weeks old at this point. Surprised Tesla’s dev team hasn’t had another agile sprint end yet since then.)… Read more »

Never wash a car (any car) below 20 F, that is asking for trouble. Destroy your door seals when they freeze and tear. Even 20 F make sure to wash it early enough for it to dry some during the day and maybe towel down door seals and any moving parts you want to use.

I don’t have this problem as I live in the Bay Area but I can understand washing your car ASAP after a storm where they put ice on the road and then it is clear but cold. I’d be tempted to wash it as well. I understand your concern about seals and the like. Interesting dilemma. I guess keep a towel to open the doors and wipe them down after the wash.

Agreed Taylor. I’ve had my Model 3 less than 3 months (delivery 10/26/18) and have over 11k miles. I will log 40k to 50k miles per year over the next 5 years, primarily for business travel.

Reliability and fuel efficiency are two of the reasons I bought this car. That and it is fun as hell to drive! So far, so good. Not a single problem, superchargers work great, and fuel cost less than $0.03 per mile average including a significant amount of supercharging.

“Just the fact that it’s an EV and will almost indefinitely start and run without fail — unlike some gas-powered cars — makes it a car you can count on.”

Good grief. No. ICE vehicles are very reliable. Claiming this as some kind of EV 12,000 mile exclusive means the author’s judgement is impaired and not to be trusted. The examples of Tesla having issues but of them being fixed, the author would find this a flaw in an ICE vehicle but not in the Tesla. A double standard.

Good ICE vehicles run 100,000 plus miles, lets see how the Tesla’s are doing at 100,000. What is range lose vs. the mpg loss of the ICE vehicle? What are repairs?

This report is of a car that had problems requiring it being updated and in the shop in the first 12,000 miles. Nothing like that yet on my 95,000 Subaru.

There are plenty of Tesla’s at 100,000 miles doing just fine. There is typically a 5% range lose which is probably comparable to the mpg loss (although that is not really a fair or reasonable comparison)

Likely no Tesla 3’s which is what this article is about. Second, it’s not that some cars can make it to 100,000, it is how do all of them do to 100,000 and we definitely have Tesla’s hauled in with dead batteries prior to 100,000, same as an engine failure in an ICE car.

So no…this “12,000 mile checkup” on a car that has needed repairs several times is indicative of nothing. By any actual metric, the fact it needed to be fixed on major items at least three times that the owner admits to would mean it is not reliable…again based on the metrics.

Think you missed the point. It was just a 1 year review with a focus in the reliability of the drivetrain.
Basically just saying the car is not a piece of crap and will get you to and from work reliably for the first 12k miles at least.

In general EVs will be more reliable in the power train as they have fewer moving parts. In practice it will depend on brand, design, and other factors, but there is no reason for a motor in an EV not to be able to go 500,000 miles or more if it is well cooled and has good bearings. With zero maintenance to the motor. Long term EVs will be far more reliable, however I am afraid they will be victim of “planned obsolescence”.

Most modern EVs should be able to easily go 150,000 to 250,000 in 10 or 15 years on the battery while maintaining roughly 70% of their range, however that is like worst case (barring some sort of failure to the pack). For example, driving 250,000 miles in a Model 3 Long Range is only 833 full cycles. It isn’t hard to get that from Li-ion. There are GM Volts with over 150,000 electrical miles, which represents over 5,000 cycles, and still have near new EV range (the depth of discharge is less on the Volt so it can do more cycles).

PS, several known Tesla’s over 300,000 miles.
https://insideevs.com/highest-mileage-tesla-now-has-over-420000-miles/

One example had over 300,000 miles with only about 13% battery degradation.

PS None of them Model 3’s, this topic.

“In general EVs will be more reliable in the power train as they have fewer moving parts.”

Only if you include all the ICE engine parts and ICE engines are hugely reliable to 100,000+ miles. No gasoline and no oil changes would be the two main advantages of regular maintenance and operations.

No timing belt changes and a much simpler transmission.

“Just the fact that it’s an EV and will almost indefinitely start and run without fail — unlike some gas-powered cars — makes it a car you can count on.”

Doesn’t the 12-volt lead acid battery in the Model S and Model X prematurely die, preventing the car from starting because the contractors won’t open? Last I heard, many Model S and Model X owners had to replace their 12-volt batteries annually.

IIRC, one of the Hyundai or Kia EVs was the first BEV to ditch the 12-volt lead acid battery. Does the Model 3 come with a 12-Volt lead acid battery? If yes, does the Model 3 have the same problem with it dieing prematurely like the MS and MX?

“Doesn’t the 12-volt lead acid battery in the Model S and Model X prematurely die, preventing the car from starting because the contractors won’t open?”

Really, is that the best that a serial Tesla basher like you can come up with? Why not also repeat the smear campaign, based on numerous false reports given to the NHTSA from a nutjob Elon Musk hater (who ran a website claiming the SpaceX booster rocket landings were faked), that the Tesla Model S front suspension collapses and causes accidents?

I’m sure you can find many anecdotes of rare problems with Tesla cars which you can claim (or at least insinuate) are common. Just like every other car on the market.

The lead acid battery on my Leaf died. The car would not power on or drive even with a full li-ion battery.

Sad if 12,000 miles is a benchmark of reliability. The first 12k or even first 50k should be flawless. After that minor issues with normal wear and tear and that’s for a mid price Hyundai or Chevy. If can’t expect that and find the need to have excuses then it’s not worth the $45k price. I will wait for a Lexus, Mercedes Benz EV because then I know that what I am paying is worry free.

I agree that it can depend on the make and model. Our ’15 Murano just reached three years and 60,000 miles. Not a single problem with the car. The tires will have to be replaced soon though. Before my Model 3, I had a Mini. That car was a disaster for maintenance. I must have spent at least $6k by the time I sold it at 80,000 miles. I disregarded all of the widely known talk of bad Mini reliability to my detriment.

Yeah, right! At some point in the next 10 years!

This is a new car! With already lots of issues.
How can people call this reliable?!
The other news about a “long term” report was about a model 3 that spent 10% of its days in the repair shop (posted in this site).
Let’s wait and see…

Sounds like the car wasn’t reliable before 12K miles with all the SW bugs being taken care of.

Let us hope there aren’t other issues after those early SW bugs and fits and finish problems taken care of.

My Tesla Model 3 was missing a rear wheel arch liner, and I didn’t notice until two months later. Took another two months to get it fixed with a couple of lengthy visits after going through lots of rains in the Bay Area.

As usual, the comments here boil down to pro Vs anti-Tesla which is very boring.

For my money, Tesla is taking on the might of the global auto industry and has been making cars for less than a tenth of the time the rest of them have. On that basis, given the positive effect EVs will have on our collective lives, some slack should be afforded.

If Teslas prove to be unreliable, people won’t buy them and that will be that.

Except this is a pro Tesla article, so the author started it!

At 15000 my model 3 died and had to be towed. After two weeks they called me and said they had replaced the entire drive unit due to a faulty diode in the controller. That’s the equivalent of an ICE engine blowing up. I love my car but have concerns about long term reliability.

Got my Model 3 Jan 2018. 6178 miles in my rear drive unit had a complete failure. Had to be towed. Drive unit replaced under warranty and drove fine until recently. Two days ago at 7684 miles a warning on the car came up that the 12V battery needs replacing. I have scheduled a service appointment for this. I still love the car and would never trade it for any other. I’m wondering if these issues are part of the early production run (3XXX VIN). I’ve had my Model S for 3 years and 100,000 miles no issues. No battery, drive train, or 12v issues in that time for the Model S.