Tesla Model S Loses CR Recommendation Over Reliability Issues

OCT 25 2018 BY MARK KANE 33

Suspension problems in the 2017 Model S result in the loss of the recommendation

The latest Consumer Reports Annual Reliability Survey based on data about more than 500,000 vehicles bring changes in purchase recommendations. 12 models lose recommendation, while 16 gain.

Among those which lose is the Tesla Model S and the reason behind that is reliability problems with the air suspension in 2017 model year version.

Tesla encourages that newly produced cars are free of supplier-related suspension issues, but as the data comes in from owners that bought cars in the past year, Model S loses the recommendation at least for one year.

Tesla Model S lost the recommendation because of insufficient reliability in the past (2015), but managed to gain it again in 2016-2017.

Tesla Model S Predicted Reliability, 2013 to 2018

““The Tesla Model S appears very similar to the car that launched six years ago, but Tesla has made many significant changes,” Fisher says. “Just as we’ve seen with other manufacturers, major changes and updates often cause reliability to slide. It can take a year or two for automakers to work out kinks with new technology.”

Fisher stressed that CR’s road-test score for the Model S is still very high compared with its peers; the lost recommendation was solely because of problems reported by owners in the survey. These problems pushed the vehicle’s Overall Score down.

A Tesla spokeswoman told CR that some Model S owners experienced suspension problems primarily in 2017. She said that the problem was supplier-related and that the automaker already had addressed it. She pointed out that there was an unrelated false service alert that some customers received this year regarding their suspension. That problem was corrected via an over-the-air software update within two weeks of being reported, she said.

“Suspension issues for Model S have improved 65 percent since last year,” she said, “and we continue to make further improvements.””

Source: Consumer Reports

Categories: Tesla

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33 Comments on "Tesla Model S Loses CR Recommendation Over Reliability Issues"

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This thread at TMC has now reached 32 pages,


Not sure it this is the issue CR is refering to, but in my opinion it is a sufficiently annoying problem to lose recommendation on the model S.

It looks like a fix is just starting to appear. I have yet to receive mine.

What did people expect from air suspension? Air suspension means problems no matter who the manufacturer is!

Obviously there were other reliability issues, since CR’s reliability rating for the Model S went from “Above Average” to “Below Average” — down two spots.

Fisher from CR just talked about the most glaring issue seen on the newer Model S – suspension.

If the suspension is improved as Tesla says it is, then it will help in a future CR reliability rating.

I’m not a Tesla owner, but I would expect any feature on any car from any manufacturer to work reasonably well, in terms of both day-one performance and performance over time. Saying that all air suspension systems will have problems is a non-starter. If Tesla is selling me a product as expensive as a Model S I have a right to expect it to not have obvious, non-trivial design flaws.

In general, this is in the same category as the falcon doors and the ultra minimalist M3 interior and shipping the M3 without a key fob. I keep thinking of Jeff Goldblum’s famous line in Jurassic Park where he says that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Tesla needs to curtail their design/engineering enthusiasm just a little, and restrict themselves to revolutionizing how we power vehicles and how companies sell them. That should be plenty for anyone to take on.

Air suspension is not exactly a Tesla-exclusive or otherwise revolutionary feature…

(Also, I don’t agree that Tesla should cut down on innovation in general. There are enough legacy makers that can make boring EVs. Tesla stands out for making innovative ones.)

I used to have a Mercedes with an adjustable air suspension. Those things are EXPENSIVE to maintain. Lots of potential for problems too. They sound great, but I am no longer the believer in them as I once was. For similar reasons, I prefer the M3 door handles to the electronically presenting ones.

Someone who still(?) has faith in Tesla
That Tesla has addressed the problem is not necessarily a fact. Hopefully, I would say. With suspension problem being the most prominent issue (read Consumer Reports) with 2017 and 2018 builds of Tesla Model S, Tesla should focus efforts on completely resolving this issue. During the course of last 12 month there has been a little to no useful feedback about both the solution process and the details of the problem. Now Tesla says “Suspension issues for Model S have improved 65 percent since last year” … “and we continue to make further improvements.” What is the freaking timeline? The law in some countries does not suggest a fast deadline, but even with that a 12 months period is over the roof. This can be a crisis for existing owners in many respects and if Tesla expects high sale figures taking problems like this lightely – think again! Late summer there were indications of a possible solution with the new part 1067361-77-C replacing 1067361-25-C. Some owners reported the issue only partially resolved, some say it is resolved. Apparently the problem does depend on the size of rims where with R19 it is more prominent. Those “less lucky” customers are facing… Read more »

Honestly, does anyone care anymore what the latest chapter is in Consumer Reports‘ ongoing made-up drama of flip-flopping on recommending — or not — Tesla’s cars?

Here’s one thing which is very consistent, year to year: The Tesla Model S comes in at #1 on CR’s own survey for customer satisfaction. More Model S owners would choose to buy their car again, if given the chance, than any other car which CR’s survey covers. Period. Every year.

Obviously, most Model S owners don’t place nearly as high an importance on what CR calls “reliability” as CR itself does.

You might not care but apparently Tesla cares since they normally fix the problem or responds to CR concerns.

The guy can’t read and has no aural comprehension either. Fischer stated THEY liked the car, but their owner base gave the car poor marks, so CR apparently reluctantly put the ‘do not buy’ tag on the car again.

What would you expect from someone who not only does NOT OWN any EV, but neither has any plans to purchase one ever (even for a relative), nor can legally drive ANY motorized vehicle period?

He’s living in a dream world since in the past he has talked about ‘excessive concern about Wealth’ when factoring in reliability to Electric Vehicle purchases…

Of course he’s dreaming – someone who will never EVER have to pay for an EV wouldn’t care the slightest about repair bills or managing the wherewithal to pay them.

How sad that you’re so obsessed with the fact that I understand EV engineering so much better than you, despite the fact that I’ve never owned an EV.

Also sad that you seem to think the fact that you’re rich makes you better than others.

Grow up, and get over the fact that there are people in this world smarter than you are.

Generally I like where you are coming from PP, and you have really contributed a great deal to the community here. However, CR is a highly respected team, who work hard to be as objective as possible in what they do. They admit mistakes when they make them and praise good products. When a product isn’t up to snuff they will call it out and give full marks when issues are rectified. Even Elon Musk appreciates their work and (as you well know) works with CR to fix problems.
So, it is with the greatest respect, and much trepidation, that I ask you to reconsider your strong opinions on CR as they tend to discredit your otherwise valuable opinions here.

PS: ignore Bill H😀

+1 When in a hurry to get through the comments, which are sometimes the best part, I always stop to read yours PP. That said, agree with G2…. I pay close attention to Consumer Reports and have subscribed for many years.
ps… never realized or cared that you don’t have an EV. Do wonder what is keeping you back though.

This Consumer Reports reliability recommendation on the Model S is based on an annual survey of its subscribers who own a Model S. If those subscribers report increased reliability issues, then CR obligated lower the rating it gives to the Model S. That’s NOT flip-flopping! It’s giving the Model S the rating that it objectively deserves based on the data collected from the annual survey.

Pu-Pu is an uber Tesla fanboy, Tesla shill, and Tesla apologist. He’s always attacking anyone and everyone who is even mildly critical of Tesla, even when the criticism is justified (i.e.: Consumer Reports).

“Honestly, does anyone care anymore what the latest chapter is in Consumer Reports‘ ongoing made-up drama of flip-flopping on recommending — or not — Tesla’s cars?”

It’s not flip-flopping. The 2016 Model S was rated above average by CR. Obviously something changed with the suspension and maybe elsewhere, and now the 2017 Model S is rated below average by CR in reliability.

In general, reliability ratings change due to changes in parts, process and workmanship, as one would expect.

“Obviously, most Model S owners don’t place nearly as high an importance on what CR calls “reliability” as CR itself does.”

That seems to be correct, but for potential buyers who would keep the Model S a long time, CR reliability ratings is worth looking at.

Model S owners who subscribe to CR obviously care about reliability. If they were THAT concerned about giving Tesla Stellar grades above all else they’d fill out the survey 5+ stars all the way.

Instead, they apparently filled out the survey accurately – those “S” owners indeed DO care.

Not only is it flip-flopping, CR isn’t even consistent in how it applies its own ratings! Just look at CR’s rating for the 2015 Model S on the following chart, and explain to me how a car with mostly “Excellent” ratings in the various rated categories, and at worst just one “Fair” rating, can get an overall “Poor” rating from CR?

comment image

They have posted how their ratings work before. If you have access to this, maybe look for that to answer your own question.

Mainstream media is now using the CR report and another report about taxpayer subsidies to attack Tesla in light of its recent glowing Q3 earn report.

…and CR gets another round of free publicity, everybody wins in this charade.

Yes, people care about what the non-profit and generally highly regarded Consumer Reports says about results from the biggest and best survey of owners about automotive reliability in the industry.

Anyone who doesn’t care about it is ignoring an important source of information.

I used to have a lot of respect for Consumer Reports. But with their repeated flip-flopping on Tesla’s cars, they’ve lost most of it.

The worst flip-flop was when they first recommended one type of Tesla car, but 2-3 months later published a new article dis-recommending it… merely because Tesla had delayed one of its promised OTA updates! And then, of course, when Tesla did release that update, that gave CR an excuse to run yet a third article on the same model year of the same car!

When a ratings magazine like CR publishes more than one article in a year about one specific model year of one specific car, then you know they’re just milking it for publicity purposes.

Perhaps their “flip flopping” is in part due to Teslas relatively unique take on building cars. Rather than refreshes every few years Tesla seem to like changing things on the fly meaning things can change rapidly if their updates aren’t as reliable as the previous option.

Model S is not the big story for Tesla in the latest CR report.
The Model X rating is much worse. What happened there?

I assume the Model X had the same air suspension issues as the Model S?

Falcon doors, have been a source of repeated problems. They definitely over-engineering that one.

Keep in mind that what CR focuses on for cars is what they call “reliability”, which they measure by how many times the car is taken in for service in a year, regardless of whether it’s taken in for a major problem or a minor one.

Say what you will about the Model X, good or bad, but reliability isn’t its strong suit.

Tesla has struggled with reliability problems since it started making cars. The prevailing attitude of the company has been to challenge naysayers who claim they cannot make compelling electric cars at the performance/range/price/volume that they claim. When the company is in a survival mentality, some details can get overlooked, until they start to affect the public perception of the company. Tesla responds to Consumer Reports because CR is significantly influential in car buying. This is also good for Tesla buyers, since such responsiveness allows problems to get fixed. The obvious goal is for Tesla to improve on eliminating such reliability concerns from its cars in initial manufacturing, and hopefully after they are able to fully ramp up the Model 3, they will be able to focus on improving reliability on all their cars.

I wonder if they consider recalls, as a reliability issue. I mean they put BMW in the top ten, and their cars caught on fire all over the place for over a year before BMW did anything about it. How many people have passed out in a Tesla from carbon monoxide leaking from the exhaust system, as Fords do? I suppose these are safety issues, which could kill you, and how soft or hard the ride is, is more important, than whether you live or die. After the Model S broke their evaluation system they have been decidedly harsh in their view of Tesla. When they do round robin talks, none of them recommend Tesla, citing short-seller FUD, most often as their criteria for not buying one. “Well you just can’t charge it everywhere,” they say. Stuff like that. Also some of the pro Tesla reviewers are no longer with CR. How odd. Still there is reason to listen to them, the braking adjustments that were made due to their diligence and complaints, but when it comes to their overall assessment of Tesla products, take that in with a grain of salt. Of note is even after many years Tesla… Read more »

Yes, this is one of the problems with CR’s “reliability” ratings: That they make no distinction between a major problem and a minor one. If a car is taken in for service or repair, regardless of how important or minor the problem is, then it gets dinged in their rating system.

If you want to see truly meaningful, reasonably objective reviews for cars, visit Edmunds.com… and ignore CR’s rather skewed, erratic — and in the case of Tesla cars, self-serving — ratings.

That’s not to say CR is without value. If I was shopping for a major home appliance, I’d definitely look at CR first. But they clearly don’t have the expertise to be able to review cars with any authority, nor reliability… pardon the pun. 😉

Your post sounds distincly conspiracy theory like, but lets ignore that for the moment and concentrate on this part:

“Of note is even after many years Tesla is rewriting the book on resale value, as their cars maintain the highest level of resale value, in the history of the car, in my view, this should be a consideration, since the true value of the vehicle is how long it retains its value, and Tesla’s do exactly that.”

What does that even mean? “The highest level”. It depreciates in the region of 30% over 2-3 years and 50% over 5 years (looking at Teslas used inventory on their site) which is around the same as the average vehicle (some are better, some are worse). Certainly nothing to write home about.

Over the years I’ve owned many different cars including Ford, Nissan, Toyota, & Mercedes… my 2015 Tesla Model S with now over 50K miles is by far the most reliable car I’ve ever owed with fewest after purchase R&M issues. My only R&M has been replaced passenger door handle (under warranty), new set of tires, & new 12volt battery… that’s it.