Edmunds long term MS test -FIt and finish flaws

Edmunds long term MS test -FIt and finish flaws

Just curious if this is an anomaly, an old issue already contained and eliminated, or systemic, and if the latter how it is being dealt with.

Cindy I II III | 14. September 2013

Mine looks so far so good, except a minor adjustment that the tech had to do at delivery for the bottom plastic piece in front of the right rear wheel. That was August. I noticed that the article was in March. I did see recent complaints on this forum. Hope it's the exception and not the rule.

Damian | 14. September 2013

I would also like to point out that in this long term road test of Edmunds, the "controversial" statement by Tesla that this is the safest car ever made was also discussed. I was favorably refreshed by this article after hearing about the NHSTA's complaint made against Tesla (without Tesla being named per se). What impressed me was not only how space age mechanisms used by NASA were translated to the MS (such as the bolting mechanism), but how Tesla went the extra mile . What Tesla could have easily done they not only chose NOT to do but in addition they decided to do their own testing. They could have "gamed" the system by making certain strength quality was applied where it was known that the testing apparatus would check and hence pass with flying colors with no questions asked! However, as per their quiet and supremely confident manner, they decided to test the weakest points of the structures in question and made sure even at these junctures, if the testing apparatus were to completely alter their procedures and test at these less sturdy venues (an impossible task given the testing apparatus now in use), the car would also receive top marks! To me that says just the opposite I have come to expect from all the other American made car companies. At least in the past, this kind of cutting corners and gaming the system is what brought the American car companies to their knees a few years back. (Justified by giving more profit to the CEO and less protection for "we, the People"!) The article goes on to explain how the 5.4 rating Tesla claimed, came into being. And while I understand statistics enough to discern between nominal and ordinal results, the case for comparing between 5 star rated cars can be justified to some extent. Of course these results were given out to the companies themselves and not for general consumption among the public. Hence the disclaimer by the NHSTA (sp? whatever...). crash test division.

Damian | 14. September 2013

To summarize the paragraph above, I am glad to know of a company like Tesla who seems to REALLY have our backs! No hype, just quiet workmanship and doing the right thing!

ILOVEMYTESLA | 15. September 2013

Tesla is churning out Model S to meet up with the ultra-high demand. Those very minor "defects" can be easily fixed by Tesla. You just call and let them know, they'll send you a loaner and take your car in and pull the door or trunk to close tighter! And with the excellent customer service, I have never regretted trading in my BMW 750i with the newest body shape for my MS85! I'm done with BMW or any ICE for that matter!!!!

Thomas N. | 15. September 2013

I still prefer the look of the latest BMW 750i over the Tesla Model S. It just looks more aggressive and menacing. I feel it has more presence than the Model S.

In the end I chose the Model S. I expect fit and finish issues; this is year one of a new car company.

AmpedRealtor | 15. September 2013

I don't accept "ultra-high demand" as an excuse for shipping such expensive vehicles with "very minor defects". There is no excuse for defects like this ever leaving the factory. From Edmund's unit, it's obvious nobody did a final QC on the car, or if they did, consciously decided to make it the owners' problem after delivery. From my own experience, Tesla is not doing the required QC at the factory and is pushing issues downstream for owners' to address via service. I find that totally unacceptable.

I love my Model S even though it needed a new engine after 600 miles and 2 weeks into ownership. I still love my Model S after being given back a car with misaligned wheels that I had to return again within 30 minutes. This was a late August build. No excuse at all for delivering my vehicle to me with: out of focus backup camera, bubbles in Alcantara, wrong tires and noisy inverter/motor. These are all things that should have been caught at factory QC. So either someone is not checking, the standards are loosey-goosey, or QC is falling down on the job. All are unacceptable for a car in this class and one year into production.

Tesla is consciously choosing volume at the expense of quality, clearly, if they send an owner (me) a car with a bad motor and other multiple obvious issues. If I ever receive a JD Powers initial quality survey, I will definitely note my negative experience and lack of initial quality from Tesla.

S4WRXTTCS | 15. September 2013

Quality control issues played heavily in my pushing my delivery date back by 6 months. I don't mind being a beta tester on Software, but I'm not going to be a beta tester on an $86K car.

It definitely wasn't something I wanted to do, but there are a number of issues that I'd like sorted out before I get my car. Now keep in mind this is just my own decision that's only valid in my own case. Everyone has their own particular weighing system when determining whether to buy a car. I can't afford to risk as much as others can.

These are the things that made me push the pause button.

1.) They either won't reply to any email I send to ownership or they won't do any research to answer the question with any sort of accuracy. At some point I gave up and emailed a person in Tesla sales who I previously had a good experience with, and that person immediately got back to me that he didn't know the answer to my question. But, he no longer worked in Sales. So he sent me on to someone else who just ignored my email.

2.) The cars they're delivering have obvious flaws that should have been caught by QC. Things like installing the wrong color trim piece on just ONE door. How in the world does one do that? There are so many small issues that I seriously started doubting I'd even accept the car during delivery.

3.) Extremely concerned about the effectiveness of the windshield wipers. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to go through experiment after experiment of using just the right nanocoating so I can see during heavy rain.

4.) I don't see that Tesla has any idea or knowledge of what's going wrong with the inverters. Why so many of them have failed. We're not talking about some new fangled piece of equipment or even something one should expect such a high failure rate of with. Do I know the failure rate? No, but I get a sense that it's greater than 3% or so.

With better communication/assurance from Tesla I could probably order with confidence that they would get sorted out. But, Tesla hasn't given me any assurance or even that they even want my business. I'm beginning to feel like Tesla is the Soup Nazi of the car industry. "You ask too many questions, no car for you!!"

I also had concern with my own lack of knowledge. I spent all the time researching range, superchargers, HPWC, etc. That I didn't spend any time getting an understanding of how an electric car works when something could potentially go wrong. Like what happens when you shift from drive into neutral? Is there a mechanical linkage anywhere? or is just an electrical signal to the computer that tells it what mode to put the drive electronics in. What happens when the drive electronics fail? Is there any chance of the car just running away? What's the fault protection? What are the DOT requirements and how does Tesla meet them? So I figured I'd spend some time while Tesla went through their growing pains to research a few things.

lbjack | 15. September 2013

Fit and finish and customer service drive customers back to the likes of Lexus. It's called integrity. I know Tesla has an awful lot on its plate and that Tesla people are good people, but this is a major issue co-equal with sales and production. When a product scores 9s and 10s on performance and safety, they become burdened with the expectation of scoring likewise on the rest. It may not be fair, but that's the way it is.

In continually surveying the forum, I get the impression that fit and finish, rather than drive train, is indeed the major quality issue for Tesla. I think the performance of this car is so phenomenal that owners are more forgiving of the fit and finish issues than they'd otherwise be.

If one is going to pay for the privilege of being beta tester to the tune of $80-100K, then the compensation ought to be that early adopters are to be considered as collaborators, as part of Tesla's corporate family and, accordingly, that Tesla take care of their own.

Tesla owners do not want to carp or play games. They have not only bought a car but, along with investors, share Elon's idea. This is personal. To be fobbed off by anyone at any level of Tesla, even if concerns are "not covered by warranty," is not acceptable.

Moral of the story: If Tesla is a technology company that builds cars, then follow the technology wisdom and always wait for 2.0.

pylt | 15. September 2013

Goodness, such animus from a small number clearly upset people . . .

We've had ours for almost 3 months; loving every minute!

From my understanding, Tesla is going WELL beyond typical manufacturers practice by retrofitting updates, actual $$$$ hardware, as cars come through for regular annual service visits AND without waiting for a customer to complain first.

No other brand does this, especially at no cost.

Yet Tesla is, and they do it because they want to not just make the best cars in the world, but be the best car company in the world.

So far, I'm well beyond impressed, as are the normally jaded engineers at Consumer Reports, and about 20 thousand other people . . . .

If I were some on this thread, I'd lighten up a little. Changing the world is hard, and Tesla is doing a great job.

Tâm | 15. September 2013


1) What happens when you shift from drive into neutral?: Everything else still works, from the horn to the brakes. Your car just slows down because you are no longer in gear and your accelerator is ineffective. You need to shift to "D" to get the accelerator works again.

The car is single speed fixed gear with 9.73:1 reduction ratio. If you apply electric by closing the circuit, it runs, if the circuit is open then it slows down.

2) Is there a mechanical linkage anywhere?: Most modern cars including Model S use airplane's Fly-by-wire (FBW), as much as possible to avoid any mechanical linkage. The shift stick does not link to any mechanical gear, it only broadcast electronic signal.

3) What happens when the drive electronics fail? Then it's just like as if you set it in neutral. Everthing else works except for the accelerator. The car just slows itself down.

4) Is there any chance of the car just running away? Yes! The 71 year old lady proved it. She said she applied the brake but the car flew into the seafood restaurant instead! We definitely need Google's autonamous driving feature for her!

5) What's the fault protection? When the car senses itself unsafe, it would warn you to pull over as it will shut itself down whether you listen to its instruction or not.

6) What are the DOT requirements: There are so many and of course you've got to pass before you can sell it.

One current design of Models X does not meet the requirement: It does not have side mirrors.

It only has two little pointed sticks at the sides. They are cameras and current DOT requires mirrors, not cameras.

7) How does Tesla meet them? By either fulfill it or change the law.

Tâm | 15. September 2013


I think it is unreasonable to expect the chrome ornabments from 2 moving doors to perfectly flushed when closed.

They are attached to moving parts and the closing depth will vary over time.

I do notice that the gaps between panels and hatchback are large but as long as they keep the water, outside elements and noise away, that's fine for me.

Tâm | 15. September 2013

Sorry, wrong picture. Here's Edmund's chrome thing:

Tâm | 15. September 2013

Another try on picture of DOT violation of only cameras with no side mirrors:

sxross | 15. September 2013

From my experience, there have been a few fit and finish issues. I went and rechecked my BMW and Lexus and no such issues existed. So if you're using a micrometer to measure the seams and feel it must be delivered "perfect" with no adjustment, there's a risk you'll be disappointed.

Here's what happened to us:

* The frunk didn't quite align right. We missed it on our delivery inspection and really didn't notice it until going over the car with a fine toothed comb when washing it. Tesla fixed it, no problem. They checked it with a gauge for accuracy.

* The chrome strips below the windows didn't line up -- in our case it was between the rear passenger door and the back. Again, Tesla fixed it, no problem.

I'll tell you why I'm not disappointed about this. First, it's all been addressed immediately by Tesla without excuse. Second, they've had me in a loaner car that was pretty much like mine so I wasn't exactly suffering. Third, I believe in the car and the company.

If they hadn't gotten the first two right, it might have eroded the third. Because Tesla stepped up and fixed everything, I have increased confidence that the company stands behind the great car they've manufactured.

As to why there would be these inconsistencies, who knows? We can only guess and also hope Tesla figures out how to ship cars that are perfectly lined up with no perceptible QA flaws. Until then, fixing the issues is good enough for me.

Anonymous | 15. September 2013

My MS85, that I picked up on August 3rd has been perfect. I still can't find any faults after 6 weeks. I don't think I'm lucky, I still think mine is the norm and QC is fairly good. If they're producing 500+ cars a week and have anything more than minor QC problems; think about how many "problem" threads there'd be on the forum (keeping my fingers crossed though).

lbjack | 15. September 2013

"animus from a small number clearly upset people"???

There's no animus here, no one is upset (except perhaps the person taking umbrage, who calls fixing a flaw an "update"). It's just a caution that, in the rush to meet production and profit projections, fit and finish are not secondary. Fit and finish defects are about sloppiness at the factory.

As pointed out above, other makes, like Lexus, do not have this issue. I'm not condemning Tesla, just saying, from observing the forum, that fit and finish seems to be the most common defect, and that it's an issue they need to work on at the factory.

S4WRXTTCS | 15. September 2013

@TAM - No, I'm looking for a more technical break down of what happens in the event that a fault happens.

I know the car gives a warning, and shuts itself down when it can. But, there has been at least one report where an inverter failure led to unintended acceleration. Now this could be the driver simply didn't realize he had the gas on, or it could be the car didn't deal with this failure mode correctly. Or even scarier couldn't deal with it.

I agree that it's most likely a fly-by-wire system, but I'm going to look for what it has in terms of redundancy.

Dramsey | 15. September 2013

Yes! The 71 year old lady proved it. She said she applied the brake but the car flew into the seafood restaurant instead!

99% of the time, this means that they actually hit the accelerator.

Anyone remember the Audi "unintended acceleration" scandal in the 80s? No mechanical defect was ever found. BTW, this is why all modern cars require you to press on the brake in order to shift out of Park.

Or the Toyota "unintended acceleration" a few years ago? Same thing...nothing ever found that could have caused the problem...

carlk | 15. September 2013

That's an old article about the same time CR published its own long term test result. We have not heard many owners complain either so it's apparently not a common issue.

mrrjm | 15. September 2013

I'm in the automotive repair industry. The fly-by-wire systems have redundancy built in. Sort of like an airplane. Multiple sensors would have to failure simultaneously for the car to become unsafe. But it will never happen. All cars now use fly by wire. Probably the worst thing that happens is people put winter floor mats over the regular floor mats and the accelerator gets stuck down after depressed fully. But the car is smart enough to know that the accelerator is down and the brakes are applied something is wrong. So is slows to a stop. All cars now a days have a data recorder of some sort. In the event of an accident there is a snap shot of the data before the collision. In the case of Toyota. In every instantance they found the driver to be at error. The driver was on the accelerator. This is human error not the car. I did here that Toyota was modifying gas pedals for a while.

I agree Tesla really isn't forthcoming with how things work. But I'm still buying the car.

Thomas N. | 15. September 2013

Sure Lexus has perfect fit and finish. Great reliability.

And no soul. I drove the LS460. The brand new one. It was just awful. It was like taking a big heavy Lay-Z-Boy and putting some wheels on it. The cabin was quiet and you couldn't feel a single bump when driving it.

The Tesla is provocative. It's blazingly fast. Instant torque. Instant power. No gas. Plug it in.

People stop and ask questions. They gawk. They stand around your car talking about it. It is full of soul.

That's why I'll have one in three days. If the frunk is 2mm higher on one side and the trim on the left rear passenger door panel doesn't align perfectly with the trunk I'll have Tesla fix it when I bring my car in.

That's the price of passion and I'm willing to pay it.

mortgagebruce | 15. September 2013

In my experience the Tesla service center doesn't adjust the frunk, it's sent to the local body shop they work with to align it. At least that's what happened in my case.

I really don't see a difference after the adjustment on mine. I purchased my car without ever driving one and there are none around here for me to compare - maybe they're all this way.

Be careful though, my car came back to me with a dent in the frunk just to the right of center after it was "adjusted." So now I've got to have that fixed. I don't really have any clue what happened but am guessing that whoever adjusted it also applied too much pressure to that spot when closing it. I suppose something could have dropped on it as well.

Tâm | 15. September 2013


Sorry that I am not an engineer to give you all those exciting formulas and charts when a Tesla fails.

Is there a link for acceleration with inverter failure that you can cite?

By default, the car is designed so that there's got to be power to move the car.

Inverter is the one that transforms the battery DC to AC for the motor.

If it fails, then there will be less or no transformation from DC to AC.

If there's less or no AC to the motor, then the car slows down to a stop.

Similarly, there's got to be power to release the brakes. There's got to be power to keep the circuit closed to keep the high voltage battery on.

If there's a failure or if a controller is out of whack, the brakes clamp down, the high voltage is off. The motor is deprived of AC. The car would slow down to a stop.

It's a very safe design!

jbunn | 15. September 2013


My frunk was a bit out of alignment. The Tesla SC performed the work for me. Depends on the SC, perhaps.

S4WRXTTCS | 16. September 2013

@Tam - I'm an Electrical Engineer so I know exactly what an inverter is and the possible failure modes.

I applaud your efforts in trying to help me with a part that really didn't play a significant role in my decision, but that really isn't the level of detail I'm looking for.

As to your question here is a link to a possible one. Keep in mind that none of the questions any of us had for that owner were answered.

Winnie796 | 16. September 2013

For people who don't believe the runaway accelerating car, then you are wrong. This happened to me many years ago (98, I think) on my ICE car. The throttle on my brand new Landrover Freelander was the fly-by-wire type instead of the normal mechanical linkage associated with ICE cars. It was very random but very serious for me. The car would just accelerate to maximum rpm without warning. I didn't panic, I just pushed in the clutch. The workshop couldn't find any fault. In the end I insisted they drove around with me until is happened. After two hours....nothing. However, about fifty yards from returning the mechanic to the workshop it happened. I pushed in the clutch and took my foot well away from the throttle. The mechanic was stunned! After weeks of analysis they changed a cable on the throttle system and it never happened again.
At least I could use the clutch to prevent me rushing forward. Are the breaks on an MS capable of stopping me if the car accelerates without my input?

Thomas N. | 16. September 2013

Brake + Accelerator = Brake

vouteb | 16. September 2013

if Tesla really wants to crack the European market, it will need to have excellent finishing, etc

Its an expensive car, I have been waiting (and deposit) for it for 3 years being in the UK, but for this price I do expect top notch finishing.

(Have had Aston Martin and Jaguar and now Audi so....)

Tâm | 16. September 2013


I believe unintended acceleration can happen because the speed is controlled by programming codes that are written by human who can make mistakes.

Iran's centrifuges were over-speeding thanks to someone who wrote the codes remember?


I followed the link to Dr. Bob Reinke's 2 incidences and the car log showed him holding both brake and accelerator at the same time. His solution was to write to George B to modify his two pedals apart.

I tested by applying my left foot on the brake and right foot on the accelerator: and the accelerator wins over the brakes every time. The motor overcomes the brake and moves the car every time, no matter what, no fails!

That may happen to his first incidence when the inverter failed, it was "Proceeding under reduced power" and even if he could have accidentally press on the accelerator, it could only accelerate to 50 MPH, well below its runaway capability of a very powerful Performance 85.

tomkist | 16. September 2013

To the original purpose of the post... I agree that fit and finish is not the best with the Model S. My wife cannot close the frunk due to the amount of force required. Will need to get that fixed. Waiting to document if scheduled charging continues to fail.

To the other point of the thread: run-away cars. My Mazda 6 (previous gen) had a mechanical failure and a computer error of some sort that caused it to slowly accelerate to about 20mph. Braking, thankfully, was strong enough to overcome the acceleration.

J.T. | 17. September 2013

the breaks might not help but putting the car in noootral might.