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Questions re: maintenance issues // reliability

Questions re: maintenance issues // reliability

I recently posted a thread about being on the fence between an 85D and a 911 GTR. The BLUF: always wanted a 911, saved up a big pile of discrretionary dough (~ 85K as of today). Called Tesla and they brought over a beautiful 85D for a test drive. Amazing car and I thought I was done w/ my car search.

Well, in breaking news that is certain to annoy my wife and cause a collective, "Pssshh. Whatever, dude." here on these boards, I'm officially back on the fence. The reason? My buddy, who initially infected me w/ Tesla fever, has had four separate maintenance issues that has left him stranded in the last month, caused by (apparently) two distinct problems. One is apparently a software issue (a bunch of error codes flashed before car shut down) and the other was apparently due to a parking brake issue. In all instances, the car was left undrivable and in one case, he was stranded on the side of a highway for 2 hrs with his little boy. In the first instance, the service center couldn't replicate the problem and released the car to him, only to have the problem reappear about a week later. In the second instance, they apparently found and repaired the issue, again, only to have it reappear a short while later. My buddy, while still a huge Tesla fan, has demoted his car to second string and it's no longer his daily driver. In lurking on these boards, it seems like at least a few folks are having similar issues. While I'm totally tracking on the fact that regardless of manufacturer, there will always be a small percentage of folks who end up with problematic vehicles, I have no sense of how prevalent this is in the Tesla community. This car, regardless of what I end up with, will be counted on to be a daily driver and it will need to be reliable. My nearest Tesla service center over an hour and a half away, whereas I've got numerous options for air breathers close by.

I love the engineering and philosophy behind Tesla products. No question. But all things considered, I'm a bit hesitant to jump in. Any insights from you folks, who have much greater perspective on the vehicle than I?

Full disclosure: my plans are to order a vehicle in Oct/Nov with a Feb -16 deliver, so I've got some time to continue research.

Anthony J. Parisio | 26 juillet 2015

T34Bravo,
In the past two years I have been on this forum at least 5 times. a day. Your friend is the only one who ever reported such an incident. In the roughly 80,000 cars sold very few ever left their owner stranded. Those that have been reported here Tesla made good on them. Remember any car company can get a bad part, computer,etc. What is important is how the company stands behind their products. Don't worry just do it.

sauce | 26 juillet 2015

@Anthony J. Parisio: That being said, in my case, I'll be using the Tesla for my daily routes visiting customers. Being stranded out on the road is pretty costly as it may mean that would end my day early. With over 600,000km travelled with both my TSXs I've been stranded only once over a bricked 12V battery (was at the end of it's useful life anyway). For a few years I drove with a Smart Fortwo 1st gen and that car left me stranded about half a dozen times over less than 100k and though I absolutely had a blast with this car I just got rid of it altogether as the (already steep) cost for repairs was only half the money I was losing by losing days of work.

I think the reliability questions are very legitimate interrogations for prospective buyers, myself included.

kglad | 26 juillet 2015

google: tesla reliability

here's (what i think is) a balance perspective if you don't want to read everything, http://cleantechnica.com/2014/11/05/reliability-tesla-model-s-rated-aver...

AmpedRealtor | 26 juillet 2015

I've been using my Model S as a daily driver since I took delivery in August 2013. I work in real estate and have a number of appointments during the day, I sometimes drive 150 miles over the course of a day. The car has not failed me once. It runs flawlessly. My car has been in service a total of about 4 hours in the past year. I received a Model S loaner and I went about my day as usual.

There is one report over at TMC by someone who received the types of errors you are describing, but that person spliced into his electrical wiring and did something he or she wasn't supposed to do. You might want to ask your friend if he or she spliced into any electrical wiring in order to add a dash cam or some other accessory.

I have no trouble recommending Model S as a daily driver.

sputnubber | 26 juillet 2015

@T34Bravo Your friend and you should both understand these are isolated incidents. Tesla is one of the most reliable cars and any car company could have one car having incidents as Anthony pointed out.

minervo.florida | 26 juillet 2015

The simplicity of the Model S is second to none. Time will show beyond a doubt that the design will pay off and become the most reliable car ever IMO. Elon is committed to total improvement while most car companies are trying to make cars cheaper all the time.
Just this past year Porsche had terrible engine issues on the GT3 I believe, replacing many if not all the engines. How does that happen after building their 6 cylinder engines forever?

Elon is trying to get the S drivetrain to last 1 million miles, imagine, this has never heard of.

frankben | 26 juillet 2015

I have two Tesla's, one a 2013 car in the 6000 range serial number. This car has almost 30k miles on it now and never stranded me. It did require a drive unit service, but the car did not stop running while this was an issue. In fact i didn't know the drive unit was a problem. Unlike others who heard whining my car felt like the front tires needed balancing so i brought it in for that. An hour later Tesla advised me they were going to replace the drive unit. They did this the same day i brought it in and kept the service center open until 8pm to do it. By the way I had a loaner and i didn't need the car back that day but they finished it anyway. This car had several other repairs which were done by Tesla when i brought the car in for regular service. None of these stranded the car and some of them were done proactively by Tesla (12volt battery replacement). Apparently, Tesla received some communication from the car that this battery was going to have an issue and they called to come and replace. On the newer car December 2014 P85D no issues of any type as of this date. This serial number is in the 60k range. I have driven both cars as daily drivers and take several long trips on each with no problems and no fear of being stranded in either car. Hope this helps you make your decision what ever it is.

nrelia | 26 juillet 2015

@Anthony J. Parisio and T34Bravo

Regular and avid reader of this forum and TMC but I rarely post, was very tempted to post on this thread since I consider myself in almost same shoes as T34Bravo and reliability concerns have me on fence as well. In 6 yrs of ownership of Japanese cars have not been stranded once. On a personal note I would be OK being stranded with my children (age 3 and 5). It is the fear of being stranded when going into work with 20+ patients scheduled in office or coming back from work and trying to make it just in time to pick kids from respective child care.
I plan to place an order between 175-200K production mark , hoping that reliability issues would have improved further and yet be able to avail federal rebate.

ssarker | 26 juillet 2015

In 27 months, my Model S has been to the Service Center a number of times. Service has been excellent. Depending on the issue, it was taken care of same day or up to a month later. Some were proactive updates, some were annoying but nothing that left the car undriveable.

tes-s | 26 juillet 2015

2 years, 50k miles, never been stranded except with a flat.

But if you are concerned, just buy the 100% reliable and maintenance-free 911.

Anthony J. Parisio | 26 juillet 2015

Being stranded is seldom reported on this forum. It has happened but I would bet less than other cars % wise. Most people report the car had a problem but that did not stop it from being usable. Most of the time the car tells the owner in detail what service it needs. How many cars do that!

negarholger | 26 juillet 2015

29 months daily driver and long distance... never been stranded.

WØQR | 26 juillet 2015

This is all because there is no central clearinghouse for automotive issues except maybe for Consumer Reports which does downgrade Tesla Model S reliability. See http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/08/consumer-reports-tesla-m...

I would really like to see some on-line problem tracking or database of issues. I wish Tesla would do this such that if you had a problem you could look up the solution. Maybe it's operator error. Or something simple.

That said, I haven't had problem yet but you ARE at the bleeding edge of technology. Remember that the tremendous number of parts that go into an ICE have been vetted over the last 100 years. But early on they were super prone to failure.

I have kept an ICE in the garage and my wife drives it daily (almost) and we use that as a range car. But if you're not one who wants to hang out there at all, get something else.

I'm keeping the T-REX.

Bighorn | 26 juillet 2015

To meekly go where other people have gone before.

Tropopause | 26 juillet 2015

T34,

Are you in the military? I believe that if you live in America, you buy American. Wasn't always easy in the past but Tesla has put the USA back on top. Support our economy, jobs and troops.

Consumer Reports loves the Model S!

Tropopause | 26 juillet 2015

And all the energy to power a US Tesla comes from right here in the USA.

Mike83 | 26 juillet 2015

I drive about 240 miles in the mountains all the time. The past 23000 miles with original Michelin tires were flawless. No radiator or gas. Electricity is everywhere and the SCs are a dream. I will never take long distance travel in an ICE vehicle.
The Service is beyond anything I could have imagined. The car of the year twice in a row is an understatement.

TwinMaTesla | 26 juillet 2015

It's a fair question, and one of the reasons we cancelled our early 2012 reservation -- we couldn't really afford to be guinea pigs for such an expensive car (but are so grateful that others could). But after seeing gradual improvements, and hearing how well Tesla treated its early adopters, we have now swapped out all our ICE for EVs. Never been stranded by any of them (yet?): 2011 Leaf, 2014 S85, 2015 70D. No significant service needs for either Tesla (unless you consider a new wiper significant). Reliability seems to have improved substantially in the few years that the Model S has been in production. Sounds like your friend's car is an outlier and might qualify under the lemon law.

Bighorn | 26 juillet 2015

True fact--Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: abulia.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/

Tropopause | 26 juillet 2015

A small amount of "abulia" might be wise when buying such an expensive car. lol

Bighorn | 26 juillet 2015

@Tropopause
You'd be crazy not to have some--the cost is the real hurdle for 99%. After a billion miles, there's a track record.

SeattleSid | 26 juillet 2015

The only time I've been stranded by a car was when my previous one, an Acura stopped dead in the middle lane of a three-lane major road. But for the kindness of strangers, I might still be there.

My Tesla, now with >21K miles (admittedly, the Acura had about 200K at the time of its near-death experience), hasn't made even a shudder, although sometimes internet radio acts funny.

notice | 26 juillet 2015

My first tesla is just two years old, about 17000 miles, never failed to "start" and never stranded me. Only issue was a stuck door handle (fixed at my office by a ranger).

My Prius had a flat tire - not a complete stranding but inconvenient

My Alfa Romeos - thrown serpentine belt twice while driving on long highway trips stranded me, once had some ignition problem while skiing on Vermont and had to be flat bedded home. And once lost the muffler making it drive able but exceedingly unpleasant.

Electric motors will pretty much run forever - no timing belt, no spark plugs, no exhaust system, no transmission - on paper the tesla should be more reliable than any ice car, and watching these forums for over two years and my own peraonal experience support this.

All cars can fail - teala has far less to go wrong than conventional cars and they've figured it out by now.

notice | 26 juillet 2015

@brianh forgive my iPhone keypad typos!

Tropopause | 26 juillet 2015

WØQR,

I checked out your link to Consumer Reports. The four problems they mentioned were:

-door handles failed
-center console went black needed hard reboot
-clip on third row seat broke
-charging connector/adapter broke

Of these, I would say the door handle failure was the most serious.

Despite the problems they still gave the Model S and "Average" reliability rating. However this report was about a year old so maybe CR will have more information for us especially since they now have a P85D. Despite this rating of Average, CR stated 99% of Model S owners would definitely buy the car again. A record percentage according to CR.

hcwhy | 26 juillet 2015

For a year and a half, my S85 has been my daily driver. In 30,000 miles the Tesla has never stranded me. The only continuing problem has been with the charging chords, which fail too regularly. Luckily, it's a gradual thing and picking up a replacement hasn't been a big deal. Other issues have been little hardware items like door handles, floor mats, and a noise from the pano....all taken care of with a minimum of fuss by a very competent and obliging service department. Is the Tesla bullet proof...no. But it's incredibly well designed.... it's a blast to drive and a joy to own.

JPPTM | 26 juillet 2015

My May 2013 S85 has 33k miles. Never been stuck or stranded. Routine maintenance, always with a loaner. New drive unit for noise (no issue with drivability). Had AC issue (leaky fitting)-drivable but no cool air. Loaner flat-bedded to me, mine flat-bedded to the service center, returned next day. Spectacular service. We now have 2nd S delivered 4 weeks ago (S70D) and are ICE free. YMMV.

sauce | 26 juillet 2015

Music to my ears. Keep'em coming!

Sweetride | 26 juillet 2015

March 2014, 28k miles, zero issues

jordanrichard | 26 juillet 2015

CR's issue with the door handles wasn't actually "handles", it was one handle. The crew from the Milford service center replaced the handle the very next day.

With regard to the 911 GT3 engines, ya, ALL GT3 engines had to be replaced due to an oil related problem that lead to fires. Owners were told to stop driving their cars until new engines could be made and shipped over from Stuttgart.

KevinR.co.us | 26 juillet 2015

The most trouble free car I have ever owned. VIN 2###. 55,000 miles. Cross country twice. Service has been second to none.

vlad22 | 26 juillet 2015

Let me know if your friend can find the elusive "911 GTR" unless VW bought Nissan that may be a difficult beast to obtain. Tessie has only royally screwed me once. The good part is that it just didn't move once parked in my garage. Not a great feeling. However people like t.j at the Vancouver service centre made the issue simple to overcome and dealt with it quickly. If that was a bmw or amg product I would have likely been out of the seat for the same amount of time. Being 1200kms away from a service center I will tell anyone that tesla service is amazing. I am in the industry and this company has it figured out.

T34Bravo | 26 juillet 2015

First, in re-reading my post, I mistyped the 911 model I'm looking at. It's GTS vice GTR. I blame my iPad. On the other hand, the fact that I used the word 'apparently' almost every other word, I'll take the ding on, sharing the blame with my public school, pre-common core education!

@AJP: I certainly haven't logged the time you have on the this site, maybe a month and at most, a half hour a day, but I just did a quick search and here's a thread about some folks getting stranded:

http://my.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/parking-brake-errors-car-often-im...

Not sure if it's relevant to the issues my buddy is having, but regardless of the cause, my concern is the vehicle not operating and not having a service center nearby.

@kglad: Great link. Thanks! I think I ran across that (or something similar) a month or so ago when I first started thinking about dipping my toe in the Tesla pool.

@AmpedRealtor: Appreciate the vote of confidence. I doubt my buddy spliced anything (i.e. no dash cam or radar detector) but I'll ask.

@frankben: Awesome endorsement! Appreciate it.

@nrella: Agree. I've got two little ones as well. 4 and 5 1/2. As much as the thought of being stranded with them would be a pain, I also work in a field where I don't have the luxury of being late or calling in sick, except for extreme circumstances.

@WØQR: Agreed. A manner of tracking these issues so I'm not relying on the second hand stories from my friend, or random rants on boards such as this, would be a huge resource.

@Tropopause: Appreciate your patriotism, brotha! Thx for your support.

@TwinMaTesla: Thanks for sharing your story! I get the feeling you know exactly what I'm going through.

@bighorn: Nice catch. I might call in sick tomorrow with a severe case of abulia.

@notice: Thanks for the input. I'll forgive your iPhone typos if you forgive my iPad ones!

@hcwhy: Interesting. The actual cords go bad? That's a first heard for me. Any idea why they keep going bad? Are they considered consumable items?

@tes-s.ct.us: Glad your experience w/ the car has been good. Totally tracking that the 911 isn't perfect either, however in a 15 mile radius, I can name probably 4 or 5 places to get a new 911 serviced, whereas the nearest Tesla service site is an hour and a half way.

@vlad22: Yeah, meant to type 'GTS' not 'GTR'. Big thumbs and a little iPad keyboard are not a good combo. So you're 1200 ams away and they still take care of you fairly quickly? Is that a premium service you've subscribed to or just their 'out of the gate' service? Very impressed.

aviationfw | 26 juillet 2015

I have had 2 model S 8 months 340000 miles and P85D 210000 miles in 5 moths. I have never been stranded I drive 150 mikes every day.

NKYTA | 26 juillet 2015

@aviationfw, a couple extra zeros perhaps? Still impressive.

No stranding here. No drive units or main batts replaced in 26k, 2.7 years. Just minor stuff that was all taken care of with "goodwill".

:-)

Pungoteague_Dave | 26 juillet 2015

I have been stranded several times, and had long distance tows three times in my two Teslas. My newest car, shut down at highway speed with almost no warning when three months old. The Teslas have been in the shop more than all the cars I have owned in the last 15 years combined, and that's a bunch. The Tesla is the only car that I have owned that has needed its motor replaced twice. It has had QC problems, poor assembly issues, body alignment issues, battery replacements (4 including main pack and three 12-volt), pano roof issues, and many other things too numerous to mention.

With the above said, Tesla has always provided great service until the recent change in policy, and I have no quibble with having replacement transportation when my car was down. The Tesla P85D is simply the finest thing of any kind that I have ever owned and we would not trade it for the experiences that it has provided for any other car. I hope to remain a Tesla owner for the rest of my life, with every new major iteration enjoying a spot in my garage. Of course the Tesla will likely always live next to several ICE vehicles that will do things and go places that a Tesla cannot handle. This is still a niche vehicle with high hurdles for practical ownership, and some trade-offs. For me, they are worth it, but I do not recommend the Tesla experience for some drivers, including some in my own family.

tes-s | 27 juillet 2015

If you get stranded in your 911, I don't understand how a nearby repair option is getting you to work on time.

But from your posts, it really sounds like the 911 is a better car for you.

AmpedRealtor | 27 juillet 2015

Tesla has always provided great service until the recent change in policy...

Service is first rate, not sure what you are referring to. I live within 50 miles of my service center and nothing has changed for me, except for the valet radius. Everything is as great as it ever was. In fact, Tesla Roadside also gets two thumbs up from me! In December I ran over a metal shard that flattened one of my tires. Within 30 minutes of calling Tesla Roadside, a white Tesla truck shows up with a loaner tire. He swapped me out and I was back on the road. Since the tire had to be replaced, I bought a new one from Tesla and had them throw it on later the same day.

First rate experience.

WestCoastP85D | 27 juillet 2015

Couple comments:

1) I would not buy a 2015 911 GTS as the 2016 models are going to be dramatically better, and should drop in a couple months. The Turbos are coming... the new ones will make much more than 500 horses...

2) I had the same internal debate, as I always wanted a 911. I am not disappointed at all with my decision, the Tesla is a momentous achievement for this industry, and owning any electric car comes with so many benefits (i.e.: HOV lane, parking up front at the grocery store), you feel like royalty.

3) This car (not mine, but the 90,000+ on the road) has been proven to be AT LEAST as reliable as any Porsche, but IMHO, likely much more so for the reasons stated.

....my next dream car could be the 2019 Roadster, to park next to our III and our P85DL.

renwo S alset | 27 juillet 2015

2 years, daily driver, absolutely no issues.

PeterPlt | 27 juillet 2015

Early malfunctions are the most common. Three months, 5,500 miles and no strandings. As has been said, the Tesla is mechanically an extremely simple vehicle. It has sophisticated controls and controllers that can behave like any computer. My few hiccups have been readily mended with a reset.

The two cars you are considering are extremely different. Unlike the Porsche, the Tesla is not a "tossable" car. On the other hand, the Tesla is phenomenally flexible in its capacity, comfort and performance (a wolf in sheep's clothing).

Which better meets your intent?

TaoJones | 27 juillet 2015

Amped: He's referring to the multiple reports from owners of inconsistent or variable service experiences that have manifested themselves *after* December 2014. No doubt the pie will be split three ways: 1) Those who don't have service issues at all, 2) Those who do experience service issues but report no change, and 3) Those who experience worse or inconsistent service encounters.

Group 1 is irrelevant with relation to the topic at hand (prospective buyer concern). Group 2 preserves the status quo - in this case, a Good Thing. It's the increasing frequency of Group 3 reports that is of most concern, in particular if the rate of those reports outpaces the rate of new owners.

To really know for sure would require access to data we're not likely to ever see. So, the next best source, and I use "best" somewhat euphemistically, would be these fora. For example, are there 55% more reports now that 55% more cars are delivered? Will there be 100% more reports of poor service experiences by year end?

And then there's granularity and severity.

In my case, the majority of service experiences have been of the "above and beyond" nature. On the other hand, one was so negative that I would have refused delivery/given the car back at 90 days had I known or has the option. So good luck reflecting *that* set of experiences as part of any kind of credible analysis unless you've got good, and I mean Good people leading that effort.

When I find myself engaged in conversation about the car, which is almost daily when out and about, I try to separate drivability from service. Most people's questions relate to the former, and I could go on all day about the virtues of driving this car as could we all. Besides, Tesla still has the opportunity to make the service issue right (soon), and that will just provide another positive story to tell. Or kill the word of mouth completely. We'll see.

TaoJones | 27 juillet 2015

Edit: s/has/had. Arrgh.

Pungoteague_Dave | 27 juillet 2015

The actual service from the Service Center is first rate. However, the total service experience also includes valet, ranger, loaner car, and roadside assistance. Because Tesla uniquely does not include basic things like unlimited towing and stuck vehicle service in the roadside policy any more, unlike virtually every other high end auto manufacturer, and most others, I believe that the overall service experience is now second-rate.

We are being billed big amounts for stuff that Ford, Porsche, MB, BMW, Lexus, etc. include for all cars still under warranty. It is a real blemish, especially considering the new policy is poorly communicated (how could you ever know that being stuck in snow isn't covered until being handed a $500 bill for said service?). Tesla says they have a roadside policy, but it isn't up to roadside assistance policies anywhere else. That's a reduction in service and is unfortunate and wrong in this category. A lot of folks have migrated to Tesla from more mundane brands like Toyota (which does have more robust assistance), so don't know what is standard minimum expected service in this category. They seem shocked that others have unlimited towing. Owners with luxury car experience know better.

Rocky_H | 27 juillet 2015

People who have no problems go about their lives. People with problems want a place to vent and talk about it. So you are going to find a high level of issues and complaints of problems on any vehicle forum, versus the high number of people without issues that you just don't hear from.

My car was a March 2014 delivery. It came with a door handle problem that they fixed. They worked to open the doors fine, except the auto-present function wasn't working--had to click the fob to get them to present. After that, for a year and four months, I haven't needed service of any kind for anything. That's just another data point.

mybluetesla | 27 juillet 2015

Any manufacturer occasionally produces a lemon. I'd like a 991 myself but came across a YouTube post where the owner ran into enough problems that the dealer ended up buying back the car:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsp1i73z4Po

That said, it sounds like he'll still eventually buy another in the future. For me I would say the same thing about a Model S given the same circumstances.

mybluetesla | 27 juillet 2015
Haggy | 27 juillet 2015

I've had more problems objectively if you go by times I've needed servicing. I've never had anything that left me stranded, but the issue is how often it happens in general. CR says the predicted reliability is average.

I finally had the door handle problem happen to me last week and am taking it in for service soon. The handle itself is fine (retracts, etc.) but it won't open the door. That's an electronic issue, not a mechanical one. Between then and my upcoming service visit, I've been having issues with a window. Most likely, the car is sensing an obstruction that isn't there, or it could be an internal obstruction.

My concern is that even though my car is under warranty, I know what would be the case without warranty with any other car. I'd be able to look up the information easily, I'd be able to find the parts easily, and I'd be able to fix it easily without worrying about what a dealer might charge or when I could get to the SC. I've changed window motors before and I've worked on door latch problems. With Tesla, I have no clue where to look, what the parts would cost, what parts would be needed, and whether Tesla would sell them to me.

When Infiniti first hit the market, one of their innovations was that they included a service manual with the car, complete with a hard case. Tesla, as a high tech company, could easily do better and give it to us online. Instead, they go out of their way to keep owners from knowing how to fix the car or even from finding out how things work. I don't want to hear any BS about voiding warranties. I own the car. It's mine. I have the right to do any damn thing I want with it. If I break something and it's my fault, then they have the right to void the warranty on that component. But if I want to touch something else, they need to realize it's my car.

As for the service radius/loaner car/pickup issue, there were a number of threads after Tesla changed the policy, and they made no general announcement at the time. About a few weeks after I read those threads, I noticed a Tesla web page that talked about all of this, and it was a page that I had seen before. It said that Tesla was increasing the very services that others mentioned on the forum that Tesla is eliminating. I don't have the links available and Tesla changes the website too often for me to remember what's where, but I wouldn't be surprised if they still boast about picking up your car, taking it in for service, and returning it for you.

85DBlue | 27 juillet 2015

6000 miles in 45 days .

Car don't need any service.other than tires. To be honest breaks are going to last 10 times longer than any ICE

AmpedRealtor | 27 juillet 2015

@ Pungoteague_Dave,

Because Tesla uniquely does not include basic things like unlimited towing and stuck vehicle service in the roadside policy any more, unlike virtually every other high end auto manufacturer, and most others, I believe that the overall service experience is now second-rate.

They never did! Since 2012, Tesla's roadside assistance policy document has clearly stated that towing is covered up to 50 miles, after which the owner will be charged. I even pointed this out to you in another thread, and highlighted the portion of the relevant document which we all receive with our final MVP paperwork:

You will note that nowhere does this document cover "stuck vehicle service" or anything due to driver negligence. I believe your getting stuck in a snowbank qualifies as drive negligence, doesn't it?

Please note the 2012 Copyright in the lower left corner.

Were you not aware of this document? Even the Roadside Assistance pamphlet that came with the car refers to this policy document.

how could you ever know that being stuck in snow isn't covered until being handed a $500 bill for said service?

It says right in the highlighted portion of the above document, that anything due to driver negligence will be billed at a minimum of $100 US. That's how you know.

Tesla says they have a roadside policy, but it isn't up to roadside assistance policies anywhere else. That's a reduction in service and is unfortunate and wrong in this category.

Just because Tesla's roadside policy isn't competitive with other roadside policies or up to your expectations doesn't make it a "reduction in service". Tesla's roadside policy document has been consistent since 2012, but your above comments suggest that you either did not read this document or were not aware of the coverage limitations.

Owners with luxury car experience know better.

Your expectations are your expectations, and you have a right to those. But a mismatch between your expectations and Tesla's actual policy, which you probably should have been aware of, does not constitute a reduction in service quality when those policies have been in place for the last three years.

I understand that the roadside assistance you received did not match up with your experience with other luxury brands, but I'm not sure how any of this constitutes a "recent change in policy", as you originally asserted. You are entitled to be disappointed, but it's not because Tesla wronged you with a change in policy. No policy that you refer to has changed at all, as far as I can tell.

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