As fuel prices rise and electric vehicles become more affordable and practical, you may feel the urge to buy one, but first we recommend reading common Tesla failures .
Although most major automakers offer hybrid and electric versions of their most popular car and SUV models, you’re probably thinking of choosing a Tesla as your first electric vehicle. After all, who doesn’t want to drive a state-of-the-art electric car made by the leading EV brand?
At the same time, you probably have seen or heard the horror stories related to the reliability and safety of Tesla cars. Whenever an electric car catches fire, crashes due to a bug with its self-driving feature, or shows paint problems, a Tesla is often involved.
So are Tesla vehicles reliable? Should you buy one? Keep reading to know more.
How good is the Tesla?
Two large research groups have recently published annual reports that rank car makes based on various factors. Both studies gave Tesla a poor overall score because there were many reports of reliability issues during the period they covered.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good points to Tesla vehicles. Its exceptional performance on the road continues to convince drivers who want to drive sports cars or contribute to the environment. Whether these advantages outweigh Tesla’s bad points is up to you.
Opinions from Tesla owners
In its 2021 Brand Report Card study, Consumer Reports ranked Tesla 16th out of 32 brands. Tesla was five spots down from its 11th position in the previous 2020 study.
According to the study, the top three most reliable brands were Mazda, Toyota, and Lexus, respectively . Mazda surpassed perennial champion Toyota because the former refined existing models and took its time introducing new but potentially unreliable technologies. By contrast, Lincoln was the least reliable brand, while its parent company, Ford, also dropped several places.
Consumer Reports noted that numerous reliability issues affected the Tesla Model S, Model Y, and Model X. As a new vehicle, the Model Y had its share of complaints. Among the most common problems are ill-fitting body panels, mismatched paint, and hair follicles in the paint. However, the same vehicles handled well on the road, and their owners seemed very satisfied with their Teslas despite their drawbacks.
Interestingly, the Tesla Model 3 passed the Consumer Reports study with flying colors. It even made Consumer Reports’ Top 10 Picks list and was one of four electric vehicle models deemed to offer the best performance, reliability and safety along with excellent emissions ratings.
Problems according to JD Power
Conducted each year by JD Power, the US Vehicle Reliability Study examines how many problems per 100 vehicles are reported by drivers over a 12-month period. All participating vehicles are three years old.
The 2021 study included Tesla in its study for the first time. However, the automaker did not allow JD Power to interview Tesla owners in 15 states. The research organization settled for its results from survey participants in the other 35 states, but was unable to officially add Tesla to the list of participants.
Tesla did not fare well, finishing 30th out of 33 brands tested. It also had far more problems (a score of 176) than the industry average (121).
Quality issues in Teslas
The various reliability issues that plague Tesla vehicles may be partly due to build quality issues. Notably, another JD Power study gave Tesla the worst rating among 32 brands tested.
In the 2020 initial quality survey, Tesla reported 205 issues per 100 vehicles. For comparison, the number one spot was shared by Dodge and Kia, both with just 136 problems per 100 units.
Why is Tesla still a popular choice for electric vehicles?
Although Teslas are far from the most reliable vehicles, they are still a very popular choice for electric vehicles. Many owners say they are happy with their Tesla and will stick with the brand despite running into various issues.
Most Tesla models make their owners happy enough to give them a five out of five rating for satisfaction. Even the notoriously unreliable Tesla Model Y scored perfectly when it came to satisfying its owner. And 91% of the owners interviewed said they would buy another Tesla in the future .
So why are Teslas so beloved despite their unreliability? For starters, they’re easy and fun to drive, which is never a bad combination for any vehicle. They also scored highly in on-road performance tests.
Comfort is another important factor. Teslas go to great lengths to make both driver and occupants comfortable with various amenities and furnishings. Along with their good handling and responsiveness, Tesla vehicles are very easy to drive as long as everything is working properly.
Tesla vehicles also have a very stylish look . Most automakers keep the exterior of their electric and hybrid vehicles similar to their baseline internal combustion engine. Instead, Teslas have the futuristic elegance that many drivers expect from electric cars.
Tesla’s reliability problems may well be a thing of the past. Until then, there are plenty of electric and hybrid models available from other brands. Most of them performed well in studies, and they share many parts with their conventional counterparts, making them easy to maintain. In short, you won’t run out of options if you want to own an electric vehicle other than a Tesla.
But if you’re hell-bent on owning a Tesla, you can reduce your risk of mechanical problems by taking good care of it and sticking to its maintenance schedule. The Model 3 is your best option if you are looking for the most reliable Tesla . Just remember to research the model year of the Model 3 you’re looking at, as not all of them did as well as those that appear in the surveys.