Hybrids & Electrics

Poor Tesla Model S Reliability Results in Loss of Consumer Reports Recommendation

As far as electric vehicles go, the Tesla Model S is one of the first that comes to mind. However, in recent years, the six-figure Model S has been plagued with reliability issues. From the air suspension malfunctioning to the main touchscreen going blank, they can’t be overlooked. As a result, CNBC now reports that Consumer Reports has withdrawn its recommendation of the electric sedan. As it stands, the Model 3 is the only Tesla recommended by the publication.

Consumer Reports previously praised the Tesla Model S

White Tesla Model S driving through the mountains
Tesla Model S | Tesla

What makes Consumer Reports’ recent move especially impactful is that the publication previously praised the Tesla Model S. According to Consumer Reports, in 2015, the Tesla Model S P85D “performed better in our tests than any other car ever has, breaking the Consumer Reports Ratings system.” As a result, it received a glaring recommendation from the publication. However, Consumer Reports also noted that this Model S test did not consider reliability, which could significantly sway the results.

Since 2015, Consumer Reports has tested every following generation of the Tesla Model S. Taking a look at CR’s reliability report demonstrates that the Model S’ issues have progressively gotten worse throughout the years. According to Consumer Reports, the three main trouble areas are the in-car electronics, body hardware, and the suspension. Unsurprisingly, those are the main reasons cited for the withdrawal of its recommendation.

What’s wrong with the Tesla Model S?

The Tesla Model S Performance offers a 2.3-second 0-60 time and over 350 miles of available range.
Tesla Model S | Tesla

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The Tesla Model S is in a bit of a tough spot. For starters, the recent investigation conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that over 158,000 Model S’ and Model X’s could suffer from screen issues. According to the NHTSA, the Tesla’s 17-inch screen could suddenly go blank or suffer the complete loss of the reversing camera. In a normal vehicle, these faults would be annoying but not detrimental. However, it is important to note that the center display controls most of the Tesla’s main features. In response, Tesla has issued a “warranty adjustment program” to fix the issue.

If the touchscreen doesn’t fail, the chances are the air suspension might. CNBC reports that recurring suspension issues are the second main reason why Consumer Reports has withdrawn its recommendation. In an interview with CNBS, Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, stated, “We see a variety of problems on that car,” and that it has “wavered throughout its life cycle.” Despite Tesla issuing various over the air updates, it seems as though the problems haven’t resolved themselves.

Things aren’t looking good for the Model Y

A Tesla Model S electric car is on display during 2020 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition
The Tesla Model S | VCG/VCG via Getty Images

The Tesla Model S isn’t the only model to lose a recommendation from Consumer Reports. According to CNBC, the Model 3 is the only Tesla currently recommended by CR. Strangely enough, the much newer Model Y didn’t receive an official recommendation. Consumer Reports stated that the Model Y demonstrated well below-average reliability, therefore not warranting a recommendation. According to Consumer Reports, the Tesla Model Y suffers from issues surrounding its paint, body integrity, and body hardware.

The Model 3 may soon follow the fate of the Tesla Model S as Consumer Reports has also found issues with its paint, body integrity, and body hardware on a 2020 test car. However, it seems the Model 3 doesn’t suffer from in-car electronics issues or suspension faults. Considering just how expensive Tesla’s vehicles can be, hopefully, the carmaker can move quickly to resolve these issues.