S failures pareto

S failures pareto

In the hope that this will get some Tesla official response, and as an prospectus future owner, I am interested in any data/feedback on the S model failures Pareto, maybe top 10.

The fact that over the weekend I ran into an unfortunate owner that had to tow his S 85kw, which was painful enough for me to see (this was my 4th encounter with an S system) much more for the owner, is somewhat troubling. This unit failed to turn on the electric engine (3rd time in 3 months).

So wile working on the finances of a future purchase would be good to know what I'm getting into.

Thank you for your feedback.

jbunn | June 2, 2013

While it would be possible to extract a list of common issues, the sample is skewed because it's limited to owners that use this forum, and owners that report an issue. You'd have to go through every thread that starts with "I had problem X" to see how other people replied "me too".

Failure rate is impossible to directly measure as we don't know the number of shipped cars of each type and variant.

I can tell you about my own experience, and my impression of some reported issues and resolutions.

Early door handles would occasionally fail. This issue got resolved last year.

Some owners report issues with 12 volt batter failures. That issue was traced back to a defective batch from an outsource supplier. Haven't heard of any lately.

The pano roofs on some cars make a clicking or popping noise that's caused by two parts that should be lubricated rubbing together. Tesla has a service bulletin out on that with several solutions. Service centers are pretty familiar with this one.

Finally, there are occasional issues with software upgrades. This will be a harder one to get a handle on, as automated updates on remote systems can be tricky. Could very well be a communication issue between the car and the carrier. Tesla is generally able to fix these quickly remotely.

I don't recall anything that's popped up more than once or twice. Outside the pareto so to speak.

What may be more important is what has NOT gone wrong in the approximately 10,000 cars produced.

I've never seen a main battery pack issue of any type. Never seen an infotainment failure that required replacement of the dash. Never seen a motor, DC to variable frequency AC converter, or onboard AC to DC converter. The car itself seems rock solid other than the problems listed above.

KOL2000 | June 2, 2013

Thanks for introducing me to the word "Pareto"

jbunn | June 2, 2013

Pareto - (noun) A statistical tool for ranking data, that places a completely irrational and unfounded importance on the magical number of 80%.

Wayne3 | June 2, 2013

80% of definitions are wrong.

Wayne3 | June 2, 2013

... 20% of the time.

Lush1 | June 2, 2013

I've had a Model S 60 with tech package, premium stereo, white pearl paint, leather, twin chargers, and parcel shelf, since late February. I have had zero actual problems with it. One Sunday afternoon around 3p.m. I got a message on the screen that said "Car needs service, call Tesla." I rebooted the screens and the message went away. I called anyway, they checked the car remotely and said there were no problems. That was the closest I came to an issue and it was cleared up in about 3 minutes with a phone call. Couldn't ask for a better result than that. The car has had 2 firmware updates which went perfectly and resulted in the car getting new features it did not have when it was delivered. It is by far the best car I have ever owned and I love everything about it, looks, performance, styling, comfort, handling, cargo capacity, great mileage, low operating cost, quietness, features, user interface and price. I think it is a bargain for what you get. There is no other vehicle that is comparable to it. It almost seems unfair to describe it as a car. There should be a new word for it because it is so far superior to any car I have experienced in my life. The Model S replaced a Mercedes Benz CLK 500. I loved that car, until I got my Tesla. When I drove the Benz after 2 weeks with the Tesla, I found it lacking in so many ways and could not imagine myself ever driving a conventional ICE vehicle ever again. Many owners on this forum have reported similar experiences. Naturally, as is the case with any mass produced machine, not every Model S has been 100% perfect, but I have not seen reports of any catastrophic problems like fires, explosions, engine failures, wheels falling off, brakes failing or anything even close. I know you asked to hear about people problems with Model S. If I ever have one, I'll report back.

TI Sailor | June 3, 2013

Unfortunately, has been pretty "vocal" detailing gripes regarding their (owned) Model S. This may be because a bunch of drivers with preconceived notions of what's good and what's not in a car are logging entries -and- readers might be skeptical if everything published was positive. Like owners in this forum, they write more about their "issues". Here's their latest regarding the 17" screen:

"The primary display screen on our 2013 Tesla Model S went blank, again. If you are keeping track, this is the third outage in three months of ownership. A recap follows...

Our local Tesla dealer replaced the screen the first time this happened. The second time a reboot put things back on track. This time was much like the second. The car operated fine, but the blank screen was annoying. After the two-button reboot, a trick every Tesla owner should know, the screen returned.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 4,425 miles

jat | June 3, 2013

More than 10,000 Model S's have been shipped, and generally those that are happy with the car don't bother to post about it, only those that have had issues. Personally, my experience has been blissful.

LMB | June 3, 2013


What you're getting into is the purchase of a vehicle on the cutting edge of technology, and which includes many systems that have not logged even one year of service in the field.

Don't buy the car if you're not bringing to it a spirit of adventure. We are the ones who agree to test it out for the less adventurous, and we each have our reasons. Some love the out-of-the-box technology and style for its own sake, some love it for the planet's sake, some for both. But it's wise to expect that there could be some bumps on the road, and decide in advance if you have a reason to want to take that risk.

rdalcanto | June 3, 2013

I was wondering the same thing. About 10000 cars on the road with some mileage. How many have needed a tow truck? 10? 20? That translates to a failure rate of 1:1000 or 1:500 respectively. Seems high. Makes me nervous that I'm going to get stranded on the way to work in my new P85+ ....

lolachampcar | June 3, 2013

It is time for some perspective here. Like Lush1, I've had ZERO issues with my car (early Feb delivery 5K miles) which is better than all but one of the BMWs, MBs and Audis I have owned.

Anyone else with Lush1 and my experience?

GLO | June 3, 2013

I've had no issues with our car. 69kw, pearl white, etc. with more than 7,000 miles on it. Could not love a car more...

defmonk | June 3, 2013


Ditto, for the most part. Save gray color and jump seats. In my case, I think I triggered the service message by resetting the screen repeatedly as I tried to clean it. The car is great, the forum doesn't always do justice to the experience of the majority of happy owners who spend more time driving than posting.

My prediction is that Tesla will set new records in consumer satisfaction surveys next year and probably enter the higher tiers of the most respected brands.

jat | June 3, 2013

@GLO - 69kW? What, did you pile a bunch of extra cells in the frunk? :)

blc1017 | June 3, 2013


+1 ZERO issues with the car. Love it, love it, love it.

jaycweber | June 3, 2013

NERO ZERO issues with the car, far better than my experience with two Porsches

inverts | June 3, 2013

ZERO issues as well. 5K miles under the battery.
MS85 air tech pano sound leather HPWC 19".

It seems to me, that b/c MS is a quantum leap car, a disruptive technology, a paradigm changer, that people put the car under the microscope. With any other car, most of the "problems" would be brushed off. The AAA road-side assistance data will be interesting. It will take at least one or two years for those to come down.

In the meantime, keep smilin' while drivin' :-)

Kimscar | June 3, 2013

On the list of issues, I think from reading the forum there are at least two more. I have heard of a few windshield cracks. Don't know where this stands and doesn't seem like many reported?
The tire wear I am trying to get a (grip on) as it seems the early cars had excessive wear and maybe the later cars wear too fast also. I want the 21 inch wheels on mine! My friend looked up the tire and said it should be a 50,000 mile tire. I imagine that Tesla owners would reduce that by half by the way they drive :).
I am one that won't have a Model S till July 2014 so I have to live vicariously for another 12 months. I'm 59 at end of year so you can see where the July 2014 comes from.

Jewsh | June 3, 2013

Zero issues so far. Car is operating perfectly.

STARR X | June 3, 2013

I have had my MS since January 21st. My problem with the car is that I just can't drive it without having to talk about it to someone. I am tired of the attention it draws and the assumptions people might be making. (My car before this was a Ford F150.) I made my bed, I guess I got to sleep in it but I just can't wait for there to be more on the road.

efkeane | June 3, 2013

I have 16,000 miles on my Signature Model S. Have driven it in harsh New England weather from -10F to +95F. I looooove it. This is what I've had to address in that time: 1) had to put on snow tires for winter driving, 2) my right passenger door handle malfunctioned and was replaced, 3) my windshield wipers stopped working and were replaced, 4) my tire pressure system light went on mistakenly and was reset, 5) my windshield developed a crack (factory error) and was replaced, 6) I get crabby when I have to drive our SUV.

The second-most frequent question I am asked: "What if you run out of power?" I can only say, it takes the same amount of stupidity to run out of electricity as it does to run out of gas. :-)

Carefree | June 3, 2013

P85, 3.5 months, 3,500 miles, zero problems other than I am so spoiled now that I hate to get into our 911 C4!

ssarker | June 3, 2013

1500 miles in 5 weeks. No issues other than Tire Pressure System that I think is fixed after a service appointment and stressful Chicago to Rockford trip in my 60 kwh. I should have known that with visiting friends, showing off, and charging plans not working out that the 160 mile trip would have turned into a 195 mile trip!

artofprime | June 3, 2013

I just want to chime in and say that I absolutely love my MS60. It replaces my 2010 Infiniti G37x coupe as the fun-to-drive car and I couldn't be happier with the upgrade. It's far more practical of a vehicle and much more fun to drive and own. There is no other car like it. I am happy to say that I have not had any issues with it.

robert | June 3, 2013

I have the exact same car as Lush1 and have to say that I have had a similar experience. My prior car was a Mercedes SL500. I had both cars for a short period and I couldn't believe how much better the Tesla drove in a day to day comparison. I have had some minor issues with the displays but resetting always solved the problem. I had a problem with the body armor (bubbles) but that is being taken care of as well. Overall, the best car I've ever owned.

LMB | June 3, 2013

Well, the attitude that "There may be bumps in the road, but I'm committed to this adventure" has served me well so far.

Three days after picking up the car we love so much, we noticed a buzz that sounded louder than it should be in such a quiet car.

Cutting to the chase, one of the battery coolant pumps was operating noisily. Service replaced it and all is well.

My point is that "battery coolant pump malfunction" is not something previously understood in the automotive industry. It's brand new. The service rep could not identify it when he heard it. But today, when I dropped by to purchase a tire fix-it kit, they said they had heard the same noise on three or four more cars, now, in just the last three days. Once you've identified it, it's easy to spot, and easy to fix.

This is the kind of thing I'm delighted to be helping to tech out for future owners. But my main point is, the risks of various kinds of failure cannot be quantified at this time. They may be small, they may be large. Obviously I'm betting on "small", since I've already dropped twice as much as I've ever spent on a car to be driving my S around town.

I happily recommend that everyone considering it should go ahead and bet on "small risk". Take the plunge, and buy this amazing car! But you can't deny that the risk is there.

LMB | June 3, 2013

@ lolachampcar

Although I don't understand anything about tire alignment (not a car gal), I've really appreciated your posts on it in the thread about tire wear, because they've made me feel like my bet on "small risk" was a good one. Your expert view on the car construction, and your feeling that Tesla has engineered this knowing they only get one chance to get this right, should encourage everyone about reliability going forward.

Paul Koning | June 3, 2013

Re software upgrade and "Could very well be a communication issue between the car and the carrier" -- no, not if it's done the way such things are normally done. First you use the carrier connection to download the update. Once the entire update has been loaded, you install it. That second step should be purely local to the car, no communication involved at all.

GettingOldFast | June 3, 2013

Two months, 3000 miles, MS60 w/o supercharging.

2 BIG problems:
1) No license plate frame given at delivery. They've since made up for this by giving me two, as well as front and back floor mats.

2) Tesla forgot to tell me that my son will be going to college 208 miles away this fall, so now I have to add the Supercharging capability, especially since they're putting one 148 miles from home, 60 miles from school, too danged perfect!

Oh, and I have rebooted the screen once, but only out of curiosity, so I'm not sure if this counts toward the Pa-Re-To... ;) (dude! my first smiley!)

lolachampcar | June 3, 2013

I see a picture developing here.....
The forum is a great place to share issues and I hope this continues and in detail. I just want to make sure that I never loose sight of the fact that those without problems do not post thus most all you see are people with issues.

I agree with one poster that pointed out that MS is under a microscope so we get to see every little flaw. What is even more amazing then getting a very good up close look at every small issue is that Tesla generated the environment in which we can do the examination (this forum). Wow!

N8Tyler | June 3, 2013

The biggest problem of the Model S is that it racks up miles way too fast. I can't not drive it!

RonD | June 8, 2013

Can't add to the pareto. No problems at all!

OK I don't like the tiny key fob that I needed to find a custom thingie to get it on a keychain.
Minor. Fantastic car...

pdx4s | July 6, 2013

All, thank you for the constructive feedbacks.

Some of us like to make such significant/expensive decisions based on some data and try to be less emotional, even if its only partial or if its based on sample data from the different forums. After logging the reported events in a excel tracking sheet it shows the issues are rated as follows (based on highest events reported):
1. Software issues (user interface mainly, some firmware related)
2. Pano roof (noise, mech. jams);
3. Rear tire degradation (possible ops issue ?);
4. Cooling pump noisy (not a functionality barrier);
5. 17" screen fan on (solved with new sw rev ?);
6. door handles;
7. engine doesn't start (3 events reported verbally);
8. windshield cracks
9. key not com. with system
10. 12v batt.

There are probably more out there that I may have missed.

By now there should be ~15k owners that drive the different S models/configurations. The ration of reporting vs non-issue systems is of course unknown, but assuming folks that had an issue did took it to the internet (as consumer usually do complain about issues discovered with new technologies), the ratio of failures seems to be under 0.5% of total systems on the road (up time >99%)

To me this failure rate is manageable, so unless I ok'ed to prod. on Wed. a P85, pano, tech, white, tan, 19", ETA Sep.

Time will tell if any of the main components life is an issue and that's why I added the ESA (having a friend with a BMW 7 series with major components failures after 6 years on the road it doesn't gives me a good comparison...). But having my first car a Fiat when I was in college (decided to cancel my Subaru order for a Fiat Ritmo because of more sporty performance vs the Sub model at that time) and later upgrading the engine to higher performance engine after several years (that allowed me to pass some BMW and Mercedes on the up-hills :-), then owning several other cars till today gave me some valuable experience. So I think I do take risks, but not blindly.

Best wishes to all owners, see you on the road from Sep.

michael1800 | July 6, 2013

Good luck with your purchase, Commander Data. You'll love it! ...statistically speaking of course.

AmpedRealtor | July 6, 2013

@ pdx4s, you may want to rethink the September delivery. Here or over at TMC, I've heard the term "end of quarter push" used more than a few times to describe the rush at the factory to push out as many vehicles as possible by quarter's end. I'm not comfortable with being part of a quarter end rush, so I'm taking delivery mid-quarter in August.

NomoDinos | July 6, 2013

@ Amped Realtor - Yikes, I have September also. Does the quarter end in September or October?

AmpedRealtor | July 6, 2013

Per this press release, Q1 ended on March 31, so that would put the end of Q3 on September 30.

pdx4s | July 6, 2013

Thanks Amp for the heads up. I'll see if they can pull it to end of Aug. I prefer Sep. 1st or so that hopefully won't put me in the q rush and have it assembled in Aug.

negarholger | July 6, 2013

End of Quarter rush... you guys are overthinking it. Manufacturing works at a steady pace. Delivery might be a different question, yes they will close as many deals a possible before the quarter ends. So far we have seen only three quarter ends - 4Q without question there was a rush, 1Q yes, 2Q maybe some,... by 3Q this will start settling down.

portia | July 6, 2013

@pdx4s welcome to the Tesla owners family! I have had my car since Oct last year, the only problem was with the door handles, which were replaced in Feb and no problems since! Love my 21st century car!