Consumer Reports Downgrades Tesla Model S To ‘Below Average’ Reliability

The Tesla Model S P85D exceeded Consumer Reports scale when tested earlier this year, but the consumer organization said the sedan doesn’t follow through with a similar high score when it comes to reliability.

Because the reliability rating of the Model S dropped from last year’s “average” rating, to this year’s “below average” rating, Consumer Reports said it can’t recommend the Model S.

“Tesla owners chronicled an array of problems: display screen freezes, door handle malfunctions, sunroof leaks, and full-blown replacements of their car’s electric motors,” said Jake Fisher, auto test director for Consumer Reports. “This extensive data allows us to forecast that owning a Tesla will likely mean worse than average reliability, a decline from last year’s average prediction.”

“As a result, the Model S will not receive Consumer Report’s recommended designation, even though it did so well in our separate road test evaluation,” he added. “To be recommended, a vehicle has to meet stringent testing, reliability and safety standards, including having average or better reliability.”

SEE ALSO: Consumer Reports Says Tesla Model S P85D is the Best Car It’s Ever Tested

For its annual Auto Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports collected information from about 1,400 Model S owners that bought their car within the last three years. The car’s systems and components are broken down into 17 categories, which are analyzed for patterns that indicate problem areas. Consumer Reports explained that through this exhaustive scrutiny, it can predict the reliability of a new Model S.

“The main problem areas are the drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment, center console, and body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks,” noted Consumer Reports.

The Model S received worse than average ratings for body integrity for 2013 to 2015 model years. Earlier complaints with the drive system (noted for the 2013 model year) and the audio system (for 2013 and 2014 Model S sedans) didn’t carry over into the current model year.

But few Model S owners seemed fazed by these problems. According to the study, 97 percent would buy a Model S again, and owners praised Tesla’s repair team for being fast and effective.

Still, Consumer Reports wonders if Tesla will be able to maintain this high level of service as it ramps up production.

“It’s one thing to have problems with a low-volume vehicle,” said Fisher, but “Tesla says it’s aiming for 500,000 annual global sales in 2020. As the number of units on the road increases, Tesla’s ability to service its ever-growing owner base may be challenged.”