Tesla has been having some issues with service lately, with long waits for some simpler fixes. These issues have been magnified by the internet, and by Tesla’s natural press/social media draw, making the situation seem quite dire when individual service horror stories are magnified by Tesla’s popularity.
But according to British magazine What Car?‘s annual reliability survey, Tesla is doing quite well when compared to other manufacturers. In a survey of 31 manufacturers, Tesla ranked 4th, with a score of 96.9%.
What Car?‘s reliability survey is similar to Consumer Reports‘ in that it is based on a survey of thousands of readers. What Car? asked 18,119 readers about their real-life experiences with new cars. Their calculation includes both the number of faults, and the cost and difficulty of fixing those faults.
Unlike Consumer Reports, though, What Car?‘s formula treated Tesla quite well. Consumer Reports recently removed their Tesla Model 3 recommendation due to reliability issues, and had done a similar thing in the past with the Model S. The magazine removed its Model S recommendation soon after the car came out because of reliability issues with early cars, and then restored its recommendation after those early cars were ironed out of the data.
In What Car?‘s survey, not only did Tesla rank fourth in overall brand reliability, but the Model S ranked as the most reliable electric car in the “electrics and hybrids” category, with a score of 98.9%. This was higher than the i3, Leaf, and Zoe.
Five hybrids outranked the Model S with scores above 99%, with the “hybrids and electrics” category doing quite well on reliability in general.
Tesla gets a lot of flak for service issues, and a lot of it is deserved. They really need to work on their communication, because when a customer falls through the cracks, they often do so rather dramatically. And in today’s social media climate, with Tesla having such a high profile, it’s easy to magnify these terrible experiences and make them seem like the norm.
Typical owners usually have a pretty easy time with their cars, though, as EVs in general experience less need for service visits. For example, the typical ICE owner won’t think of an oil change as an exceptional “reliability issue,” but it still takes time out of your day and money out of your pocket to get it done. For an EV, that’s not necessary at all – as Jay Leno pointed out recently.
I haven’t brought in my 11-year-old Tesla for service in a few years now, and it’s running just fine. There are some issues, as should be expected out of an 11-year-old hand-built early model car from a startup company, but overall it has been a pretty easy experience owning this car.
There’s definitely work to be done on Tesla’s service experience, but this survey shows that, at least in the UK, reliability and service aren’t doing nearly as bad as the horror stories might suggest.