Consumer Reports Lists Models S and X Among the Least Five Reliable Cars Sold in the USA.

Consumer Reports Lists Models S and X Among the Least Five Reliable Cars Sold in the USA.

Are our Teslas really as unreliable and downright junky as this survey has made them out to be? Or are EVs merely misunderstood?

Even automotive interest magazines like Car & Driver seem to have a hard on for Teslas, savaging the Model 3, the Model X and Model S every chance it gets.

SO | February 16, 2019

They count bugs from software updates as part of unreliable. So companies that never try to improve their existing cars sold, maintain a more reliable rating.

"The truth is the Model S is not an aging model. It's constantly being redesigned under the skin," Fisher said. Tesla, because of its ability to make changes in its models using over-the-air software updates in many cases, experiences "these growing pains differently than traditional car companies."

So do you want a stagnant car or more features that may introduce some minor issues?

carlk | February 16, 2019

You are SO right (sorry ;)). A 2015 Toyota will only have 2015 Toyota problems but a 2015 Tesla will have 2015, 2016, 2017... problems since it's been updated with new features and possible new problems every year.

sosmerc | February 17, 2019

Are Tesla "updates" mandatory? Can you reject or "delay" an update? If I had a Tesla and it was performing exactly as I wanted I might not want to allow an update if I thought it might introduce a new problem.

crazy canaler | February 17, 2019

Low rating due primarily to smart air suspension problem.

In their rankings, Consumer Reports weighs major problems such as transmission failure and repairs much more heavily than minor stuff such as loose fabric on the A pillar of the Model 3. Supposedly, the Model S and Model X had a problem with a part in the Smart Air suspension that only affected it when the vehicle was in park and didn't make it inoperable and has since been fixed on all vehicles. However, the way Consumer Reports' ranking criteria works, that's about as bad as complete transmission failure.

Thus the low ranking. That's also why Consumer Reports considers the Model 3 Tesla's most reliable vehicle. ;)

DonS | February 19, 2019

Software glitches, door handles not presenting, tail lights filled with water, tire pressure monitoring needs service, etc. These issues are not in the same league as being stranded in the boondocks, but are still problems that Tesla needs to do better. This isn't much different than my experience 20 years ago with Ford or GM, but Tesla's competition isn't standing still.

Shock | February 20, 2019

"They count bugs from software updates as part of unreliable. So companies that never try to improve their existing cars sold, maintain a more reliable rating."

Why would bugs in software updates be considered anything other than a reliability issue? If I try and improve my vehicle by replacing its headunit with one that has more features, like I did last year, and that headunit tends to crash from time to time and black out, as mine does, have I not diminished reliability? Yes, I have.

Mike83 | February 20, 2019


carlk | February 20, 2019

If Tesla is making Model S the same as its 2012 model without all those new featues and updates it will be the most reliable car on the planet. Japanese and Germans are making pretty much the same car year after year if that's what you want. Even for the Germans they were adapting new technologies faster, just a little faster, they still suffer from that. Just look at their cars in the 2000's when they started to put electronic engine controls and took the sever reliability hit. Japanese were "smarter" that they avoid to adapt new things or make changes but they suffer from making boring cars. Everyone can decide if he/she wants to buy a very boring car, a little less boing but not too reliable car, or a Tesla.

bbwhipple | February 20, 2019

"Everyone can decide if he/she wants to buy a very boring car, a little less boring but not too reliable car, or a Tesla." -carlk

Not a great slogan for someone like myself who only drives Toyota or Porsche... I am looking into electric cars but I think the lack of competition and infrastructure is still a problem. I am willing to sacrifice a little reliability for more performance, but not at the expense who knows what software problem?!

carlk | February 20, 2019

I came to Tesla from Porsche (Cayman S). It's a very boing car by comparison. Toyota/Lexus? Ha!

carlk | February 20, 2019

Sounds like you have never owned a Tesla. Here is another one that you'd realize after owning one. There are two types of cars. Tesla and everything else. I will not own an everything else again.

jordanrichard | February 20, 2019

The only study from CR that I would give credence to is the favorability study or whatever it's called. The one where people rate whether or not they would buy the car again.

Everything else is subjective and relative. Over the past 5 years I have had numerous things fixed on my MS, I have had to reboot the computer numerous times, but I still consider it reliable. It has never left me stranded, never not started or charged. "Reliability" is in part relative to one's expectations.

SO | February 20, 2019

@Shock - you should have stuck with the old head unit with less features then.

rxlawdude | February 20, 2019

@jordan, +1. My visits to service were for non-critical issues (M3) and routine service (MS). The cars themselves are indeed rock-solid. Total Tesla miles 120,000.

jordanrichard | February 21, 2019

As we speak the stock is taking a hit because CR once again, immediately after stating that a Telsa product has the highest loyalty rating, says they can no longer recommend the Model 3. When will CR ever learning that their announcements contradict each other. They are in net affect, yet again saying, ".....We can't recommend what an overwhelming number of our subscribers like"

SO | February 21, 2019

I can understand CR stating what they have. It makes sense based solely on the responses.

However, what this is doing is showing their readers that their recommendation means absolutely NOTHING to buyers. I think this hurts CR more in the long run than it does Tesla.

It’s just odd how the market reacts to Tesla being taken off the list but seem okay with BMW taken off the list.

rxlawdude | February 21, 2019

I think the market is reacting more to the latest departure (general counsel who only lasted two months) of C-Suiters.

Mike83 | February 21, 2019

I think the stockt is reacting to the entire market being down. May have nothing to do the usual anti Tesla news. Yet the shorters did over 62% of the trading which is curious.

carlk | February 21, 2019

It's very strange. Model 3 was shipped in significant numbers only for less than a year. Most cars are only in owners hands for few short months. How did CR get statistically significant data? I don't read the magazine anymore but I remember it does not rate cars for that until there are two years data. It reminds me that in 2016 it published an article about Model X reliability issues based solely on a few stories from online forums. And that's from an organization that boasts it only rely on data for objective result?

rx The large drop middle of the trading session today was after the CR news came out. Again very similar to the large drop when Model S was taken off recommended list. I also remember author of that article then bragged online about the drop. There were backlash of that unprofessional if not illegal behavior but CR said nothing and that guy continues to work for it.

Mike83 | February 21, 2019

@carik excellent points. Wonder why the SEC isn't all over this.

sschaem | February 21, 2019

Stock down is for many reason. I think the big one is actually the latest tweet from Elon, then the CR rating on reliability then the executive departure then the US opening China to the EV market with full tax incentives + ...

Uncle Paul | February 22, 2019

I noticed that most of those complaints were word for word from posts on this and other forums.

I think that instead of doing their own research, they just took forum posts to make their judgement.

Some of the negative posts are suspicious, and maybe coming from short sellers.

If this causes the stock to go down, I would expect to see more and more complaints coming to these forums.

Consumer Reports is not the same company it used to be :(

carlk | February 23, 2019

Yes they did. When they published their article about Model X initial qualitty issues all they did was to qoute a few stories appeared on this and TMC forums without even a verification. Consumer Reports let go its entire editorial staff a few years ago and then hired a bunch of marketing people. That's how the once proud organization has becoming.

carlk | February 23, 2019

@sschaem If you look at the intraday chart the big drop happend right after the CR report got into the news. Elon's tweet happened a day earlier. It had little if any effect on the stock price. Confirming 400,000 yearly production and mentioning 500,000 burst rate should not be taken as a bad news. The Kandy news came days after which should not have any effect for that drop. Kandy is not in a position to threat even Leaf, Bolt or Kona.

dmm1240 | February 23, 2019

I bought a MX90D in September 2017. Here is the car's maintenance record:
1. A month after buying the car the driver's front window developed a thumping nose when I would roll it up or down. I took it in for service, they replaced a piece of trim and I had the car back the next day.
2. About six months after buying the car, I pushed one of the scroll buttons on the steering wheel too hard and it broke. Tesla sent a mobile unit to my house and the tech replaced it in 15 minutes.
3. Last month, the module that opened the passenger door failed. I took it in for service and it was repaired in 90 minutes.
4. Twice the computer screen has developed a problem. I fixed this myself with a reboot both times. I think of it as rebooting one's computer when the OS freezes. No biggie.
5. A few weeks ago, I had my hands full of stuff and dropped my key fob. It stopped working. I stopped by a Tesla repair shop and they replaced it for me on the spot.

Overall, MXes have a propensity for the front drive shafts to develop what's called the shudder. This is a slight vibration felt when accelerating the car quickly. You can have the drive shafts replaced but the problem will come back in a few months. This does not affect how the car operates, it's just annoying. Tesla is working on a permanent fix — read a new half shaft design — that is due at any time. When the part becomes available, the plan is to retrofit the entire MX fleet with the new part free of charge. I know this because I asked. I have had not problems with fit/finish on my car other than the thumping window.

I have had zero problems with the Falcon Wing Doors on my MX.

My experiences with Tesla service have been nothing short of exemplary. They are courteous, knowledgeable and determined to make things right. For me, visiting a Tesla shop is kinda fun; I can't say the same about spending time at dealerships of other cars I've owned. I have no horror stories to share about my car being held hostage for months.

Generalizing, mechanically, the MX is an outstanding vehicle with unbelievable performance. The tech inside the car is stunning. If you think of it as a computer with wheels that's as apt a description as I've seen. The over the air updates are priceless. Your car gets better sitting in your driveway/garage.

Tesla also makes it fun. The Christmas Easter Egg that runs a 3:00 program where the car "dances" to music is a crowd pleaser. Friends are always asking to see it. I tried out the new "fart" Easter Egg on a friend the other day and she couldn't stop laughing. Missile Command was a favorite video game in my youth — we used to play it for hour at bars — and I can dally doing that if I wish.

The tech Tesla crams into its cars is unmatched. No other automaker comes close. I actually endured a 1 hour video of the iPace — some guy in Europe took it out for a day long spin — and was unimpressed. It's okay, but not close to a Tesla in the gee whiz department or in overall performance (i.e. acceleration, range). The iPace does appear to handle well, which one would expect of a European made car.

Tech? Tesla all the way. Where Tesla falls a little short is in fit and finish. They've only been making cars for the mass market for really about six year, and it sometimes shows. I broke the scroll wheel by pushing on it too hard one day, that's on me. The thumping window and the door opening module failure are on Tesla.

Kia and Hyunda cars were laughably bad when they first appeared. Way back in the 1970s, a friend's day bought her a Datsun and it was almost laughable. Nobody laughs at the quality of Nissan cars any more. Over time the Koreans and Japanese learned how to make excellent vehicles that were and are as reliable as ICE cars can be. However, there are limitations, maintenance is a constant thing (oil change anyone?), they're noisy, smelly, inherent to the internal combustion engine platform.

Teslas continue to improve. M3s coming off the line now are much better made than ones produced last February. The problems many complained about when the MS and MX first appeared are basically gone now. For example, some early owners complained the FWD on the MX opened and closed at a leisurely pace; Tesla has since shaved a full second off the time it takes for the doors to open and close.

Yes, Teslas fall a little short in the areas of fit and finish compared to other auto manufacturers with decades more experience manufacturing cars. There is a gap, not all that large, but it exists. And it is closing and will continue to close.

That's the price of being an early adopter of new technology. The Macintosh that rolled off the assembly lines at Apple in the 1980s-1990s bears little resemblance to the iMac I'm using right now. The same will happen to Tesla. In terms of electric cars overall, Tesla is by far the current leader and seems determined to keep it that way.

I an occasional 1/4" gap between a couple of panels compared to the 1/8" gap one finds on other types of autos is a huge no no for you, then you shouldn't buy a Tesla right now. Tesla gets better at it every day, but admittedly still has a little catching up to do.

IMO, Consumer Reports is stodgy. They're operating from an old paradigm. What difference does a bug make in Tesla's OS if it can be fixed with an over the air update that happens overnight? Who really cares? I've referred to Consumer Reports when I'm thinking of buying a new car over they years, but don't give their recommendations all that much weight. They, for example, love Toyotas. I don't and never have. Boring cars. Instead of looking at Teslas as brand new technology with all the initial glitches that come with new tech, Consumer Reports insists on holding Tesla to its tried and true formula where the fuss is over the number of cupholders and whether or not the car has Corinthian leather (which is hilarious because there never was any such thing as Corinthian leather even though Fernando Lamas insisted it existed in car ads).

It's just old fuddy-duddies trying to make sense of something they don't truly understand using a yardstick to take measurements that are no longer relevant.

Rumi11 | February 25, 2019

Consumer Reports really needs to update the way they review vehicles in light of new tech. I mean. it;s true they love Toyota, but how many recalls has Toyota had in recent years?

dmm1240 | February 26, 2019

Here are 2019/2019 Toyota recalls alone:
1. 2019 Toyota 4Runner (1,95 units). RE: Equipment:other:labels
2. 2019 Toyota Avalon (168,187 units). RE: Electrical System: Software
3. 2019 Toyota Avalon (168,187 units). RE: Air Bags
4. 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid (168,187 units). Electrical System: Software
5. 2019 Avalon Hybrid (168,187 units). RE: Air Bags
6. 2019 Toyota C-HR (681 units). RE: Power Train: axle Hubs
7. 2019 Toyota Land cruiser (89,740 units). RE: Seat Belts: front
8. 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser (89,740 units). RE: Air Bags: passenger Side Frontal
9. 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser (89,740 units. RE: Air Bags: Occupant Classification System - Ons (front passenger)
10. 2019 Toyota Sequoia (168,187 units). RE: Air Bags
11. 2019 Toyota Sequoia (168,187 units). RE: Electrical System: Software
12. 2019 Toyota Tacoma (44,121 units). RE: Service Brakes, Hydraulic: foundation Components: master Cylinder
13. 2019 Toyota Tundra (168,187 units). RE: Electrical System: Software
14. 2019 Toyota Tundra (508 units). RE: Equipment: other: labels
15. 2019 Toyota Tundra (168,187 units). RE: Air Bags
16. 2019 Toyota Tundra (280 units). RE: Equipment: other: labels
17. 2018 4Runner (649 units). RE: equipment: other: labels
18. 2018 Toyota 4Runner (431 units). RE: Structure: body: hood
19. Toyota 4Runner (1,295 units). RE: Equipment: other: labels
20. 2018 Toyota C-HR (25,584 units). RE: Parking Brake
21. 2018 Toyota Camry (1,730 units). RE: Engine and Engine Cooling: engine
22. 2018 Toyota Camry (11,807 units). RE: Fuel System, Gasoline: delivery: hoses, Lines/piping, and Fittings
23. 2018 Toyota Camry (6,046 units). RE: Service Brakes, Hydraulic: power Assist: vacuum
24. 2018 Toyota Highlander (649 units). RE: equipment: other: labels
25. 2018 Toyota Highlander (6,04) units). RE: Service Brakes, Hydraulic: power Assist: vacuum
26. 2018 Toyota Highlander (8,105 units). RE: Electrical System
27. 2018 Toyota Highlander (8,105 units). RE: Visibility: windshield
28. 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser (89,740 units). RE: Air Bags: Occupant Classification System - Ons (front Passenger)
29. 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser (89,740 units) RE: Seat Belts: front
30. 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser (89,740 units). RE; Air Bags: passenger ide Frontal
31. 2018 Toyota Prius (192,347 units). RE: Electrical System: wiring
32. 2018 Toyota Prius C (19 units). RE: Equipment: other: labels
33. 2018 Toyota Rav4 (649 units). RE: Equipment: other: labels
34. 2018 Toyota Sequoia (64,901 units). RE: Electronic Stability Control
35. 2018 Toyota Sequoia (168,187 units). Electrical System: Software
36. 2018 Toyota Sequoia (168,187 units). RE: Air Bags
37. 2018 Toyota Sienna (55 units). RE: Wheels
38. 2018 Toyota Tacoma (44,121 units) RE: Service Brakes, Hydraulic: foundation Components: master Cylinder
39. 2018 Toyota Tundra (649 units). RE: Equipment: other: labels
40. 2018 Toyota Tundra (64,901 units). RE: Electronic Stability Control
(It keeps going up to 122 recalls on 2018 production models).

Meanwhile, over at Tesla, the recall rate historically has been 941 per 1,000 vehicles, placing Tesla third behind Porsche (641) and Volvo (516).

Here's the whole list of recalls per 1,000 cars:
1. Volvo 516
2. Porsche 641
3. Tesla 941
4. Mercedes-Benz 942
5. Kia Motors 992
6. Jaguar-Land Rover 1,232
7. Ford 1,462
8. Subaru 1,563
9. Nissan 1,679
10. Hundai 1,753
11. Volkswagen 1,798
12. BMW 2,319
13. Toyota 2,335
14. General Motors 3,067
15. Mazda 3,323
16. Honda 3,419
17. Chrysler 3,432
18. Mitsubishi 3,934

This list was up to the point 123+ Model S vehicles were voluntarily recalled to replace a power-steering bolt that tended to corrode with extreme weather and use of specific types of road salt. That recall would have moved Tesla down toward the middle of the pack.

But look at CS's darlings: Toyota and Volkswagen, not so good. CS also tends to hammer Mercedes-Benz in its ratings and look at them right there near the top with Tesla.

Methinks Consumer Reports speaks with forked tongue.

dmm1240 | February 26, 2019

Make that 123,000 Model S units recalled for the faulty power-steering bolt, supplied by a 3rd party manufacturer.