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Does Tesla Have a Reliability Problem? What Students in Automotive Mechanics Training Need to Know

Published on November 15, 2018 by in Blog

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Since releasing the record-setting Tesla Roadster in 2008, Tesla has built a worldwide reputation as one of the world’s leading makers of high-performance all-electric cars. The company has enjoyed a tremendous amount of public hype over the years, and it’s built a loyal following of devoted Tesla drivers with its sleek designs, over-the-air updates, and advanced features like Ludicrous Mode, which allows Tesla Model S drivers to accelerate from 0 to 97 kph in an impressive 2.8 seconds.

Consumer Reports Found Reliability Issues with Some Tesla Vehicles

One issue that’s come up repeatedly with Tesla’s cars, though, is their reliability. That issue has drawn attention once again with the release of 2018’s Consumer Reports reliability ratings. The non-profit organization dedicated to unbiased testing of consumer products releases these rankings every year based on reviews from over half a million vehicle owners. This year’s results saw Tesla’s Model S and Model X lose their official recommendations, with the Model X even being included in the year’s list of 10 Least Reliable Cars. The car maker’s overall ranking fell to 27th out of 29 brands, with an average reliability score of only 32/100.

Students in Mechanics School Should Be Aware of the Reported Problems

The Tesla Model S actually lost its Consumer Report recommendation once before in 2015, before regaining it last year. This up-and-down movement in ratings can sometimes happen as a result of significant changes in a car’s design, because they can lower a car’s reliability rating temporarily as the kinks are worked out over time. As students in automotive mechanics training might already know, the Model S has had many such changes.

The recent loss in reliability has been largely attributed to problems with the Model S’s air suspension system, which became standard in the 2017 model year. The company has since stated that the problem has already been addressed, and was corrected with an over-the-air update within weeks of being reported.

The Model S, pictured here, has reportedly had issues with its air suspension system

The Model S, pictured here, has reportedly had issues with its air suspension system

The Model X SUV, on the other hand, saw its rating sink due to a variety of reported issues, including problems with its falcon-wing doors, electric-powered front doors, and the centre display screen.

The Model 3 Overcame Reliability Issues with a Software Update

Consumer Reports initially withheld a recommendation for Tesla’s Model 3 as well, but changed course after a software update solved some important issues with the car.

The Model 3 is Tesla’s first attempt at a more affordable, mass-market vehicle. While its first review was highly favourable in some regards, Consumer Reports took issue with the car’s long stopping distance in emergency brake tests. The Model 3’s stopping distance of 46.3 metres at 97 kph was the worst of any contemporary car tested by Consumer Reports, but after learning of the issue, Tesla issued a software update which brought the stopping distance down to 40.5 metres, a reduction of nearly six metres.

The Model 3 received a recommendation only after receiving a late software upgrade

The Model 3 received a recommendation only after receiving a late software upgrade

Unlike many of the other cars that students in mechanics schools will work with, whose manufacturers tend to be conservative in developing their products, frequent advancements in design mean that Tesla is always working out the kinks on each model’s newest developments and features. Over-the-air updates, however, are also frequently tweaking the software of each model to try and solve these issues as they come up.

This means that it might take some waiting to see whether Tesla’s reliability issues continue to be a problem or can be ironed out over time. In the meantime, students stay aware of the potential issues.

Are you interested in training for a new career at automotive mechanics school?

Contact CATI for more information about our programs.

 
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