Consumer Reports Finds Plenty Of Problems, Glitches In Model S

Consumer Reports has released an update on its long-term Tesla Model S tester, and while the organization still enjoys its revolutionary nature, driving performance and good safety scores, its example has suffered a decent string of issues.

Having covered nearly 16,000 miles in CR’s care, the Model S – which CR purchased to eliminate ostensible conflict of interest – suffered “many minor problems that merit some reflection.”

While none were ever life-threatening or massive in scope, the automatic door handles failed to operate, the front trunk wouldn’t open and perhaps the most severe, the interior display/control screen went blank.

Most were fixed with either over-the-air updates or, in the case of the display screen, a “hard reset” during the vehicle’s annual service. Other issues CR focused on included one third-row seat buckle needing replacement, along with fixing a creak on the passenger side pillar.

CR did note that the shops regularly did things on their own accord without prompting, including replacing, “…the front bumper carrier hardware… … (the) 12-volt battery, the HVAC filter housing and the powertrain battery’s coolant pump.”

The organization had awarded the Model S an average reliability score based on owner feedback, but with fewer than 650 responses of 2012-13 models, the sample size remains reasonably small. However, CR stresses that its long-term test vehicle results are never reflected in the reliability ratings.

Tesla did in any event receive a huge feather in its cap when it was rated among CR’s top new cars ever reviewed. While CR’s review process begins with anonymity with a privately purchased car, today CR Spokesman James McQueen did say Tesla would likely know it is servicing a car owned by the influential consumer publication, as it flat-bedded the car away from CR’s headquarters in keeping with Tesla’s usual service practice.

But CR maintains it remains detached, and what’s more, its owner surveys cannot skew its own subjective impressions, said McQueen. CR is assessing Model S in an ongoing basis, he said, as did the article.

“Given the number of bits and pieces Tesla has replaced on our car, it might be tempting to guess that the reliability score will go down,” CR’s article continued. “The reality is, it might — depending on the frequency and severity of problems reported by our subscribers and whether they show that reliability is below average.”

Although certainly problematic, CR’s experiences were nowhere near as severe as those from Edmunds, who had 28 service campaigns outside of the regular maintenance schedule, including four drive units, two touch-screens, a battery replacement and more.

Consumer Reports