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It’s been a rough week in Teslaland. First, its much-anticipated Investors Day confab got a thumbs down from both stock owners and Tesla enthusiasts. And now two of its models just showed up on a 2023 Top 10 Least Reliable EV report, raising the question of just how bad is Tesla’s reliability. The rating is based on testing, but also from thousands of surveys sent to EV owners.

Which Tesla models have reliability issues?

Red Tesla Model S on black background
2023 Tesla Model S | Tesla

The two models are the Tesla Model X and Model S. Especially the Model S is a surprise because it was the first mass-produced Tesla, launched in 2012. So Tesla has had a long time to sort out its gremlins. Over-the-air updates help to improve some problems Tesla drivers have experienced. That takes the burden of going to the dealership off of owners’ backs. 

The Tesla Model S’s overall CR reliability score placed it on the list. Its Model X was worse, slotting toward the top position. It’s just behind the Hyundai Kona, Chevrolet Bolt EUV, and Bolt. 

How many Tesla Model S recalls have been issued?

Blue Tesla Model 3 in motion
2023 Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

Tesla says that, on average, it releases software updates about every four weeks. Not all of these are to address issues. Some updates only add features. But, of course, they’re meant to improve issues without inconveniencing owners. More recently, Model S complaints range from problems with electrical systems in the cabin to transmission issues, and how certain electronic equipment functions. 

But the amount of recalls for the Model S is eye-opening. There is already one in 2023. For 2022, Tesla issued 10 Model S recalls, with 14 in 2021. From 2012 to 2020, there have been an eye-watering 52 recalls of the Model S. In total, that’s 77 recalls since 2012. 

Does the Tesla Model X have better reliability?

White 2023 Tesla Model X front 3/4 view
2023 Tesla Model X | Tesla

The Model X hasn’t fared any better. This year there are already two recalls issued. Last year Tesla issued 11, and in 2021 there were 13 recalls. From its first year in 2016 to 2020, there are a total of 32 recalls. That makes for a grand total of 58 Model X recalls. 

Many dismiss EV recalls, not just Tesla’s alone, as new technology gremlins and freshmen companies. But under any light, those recall numbers, combined with software updates, are too many. They’re not like the amount Ford has issued over the past several years, but Ford produces far more vehicles than Tesla. 

Can we expect reliability problems from the new EVs coming?

White Tesla Model X on highway
2023 Tesla Model X | Tesla

And there are companies producing far fewer EVs that one wouldn’t expect to see on a Top 10 Worst Anything list. The Porsche Taycan EV was in the middle of Consumer Reports’ list, and its sister Audi E-Tron was just behind it. Pickup up last place is another new company in Rivian. 

And don’t forget, some of the more widely-advertised EVs are only now becoming available. These are cars made by Fisker, Lucid, and so on. Unfortunately, with the problems even legacy automakers are having with EV gremlins, we expect to see both Fisker and Lucid on the list sooner rather than later. Not that we’re wishing that on any manufacturer. 

So with new EVs popping up almost weekly, we’ll see whether Tesla stays off the worst reliability lists because the newbies are having their own problems, or because it finally has its Model S and Model X dialed in.

Updated: 5/30/2023


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