My Model S 50,000 Mile Service Record

Consumer Reports surveyed 1,400 Tesla owners and lowered their prediction of reliability from average down to worse-than-average.  Tesla stock has dropped on this news today.

Consumer Reports sites problems with display screen freezes, replacements of the cars’ electric motors and sunroof leaks.  Most early Tesla owners such as myself have experienced a number of problems, but newer Model S cars appear to have had less issues as Tesla has made the car more reliable.  Buying a brand new platform from a new car company with a below 5,000 VIN number, I knew I was an early adopter and expected some problems to crop up.

What Consumer Reports did not mention is that Tesla service is stellar.  They valet your car to your home or office with a loaner Model S (in most but not all cases).  Appointments are not always fast if the issue is not urgent, but they treat their customers universally well.  Part of the company culture is treating their customers with respect which is the opposite of most car companies.  I have only been inconvenienced once with this level of service in the 6 1/2 years driving Teslas.

During my 50,000 miles 2 1/2 year journey with the Model S, I have had a series of seven issues with my car all of which I have documented on this blog.

  1. Serious problems with tire alignment ruining tires
  2. Door handles that would not open
  3. Bluetooth issues connecting to the iphone
  4. Faulty tire pressure warning sensors
  5. Panoramic roof liner had exposed adhesive
  6. Roadster adapter cable failed completely
  7. 12 Volt battery replacement

My issues have been both serious and minor with some difficult to diagnose and fix.  I am hoping to report on the tires soon.  The door handle problems were with the first design of the handles, and new cars do not have these issues. I have not had my motor replaced due to any noise issues although I can hear it a tiny bit more than when I first bought the car. The drive unit is under warranty for a total of 8 years and infinite miles. I won’t think of replacing it unless the noise is a lot more than barely perceptible.

Can I say my car has been as reliable as average?  As much as I adore my car and Tesla, the true answer is no. I think even achieving an average or close to average rating is fabulous for a brand new car company.  I would not expect a great reliability from a new company doing something radically different in the first 10,000 cars they produce.

Ironically today my car is in for the service of the bluetooth.  I have had intermittent problems connecting to the phone along with the 17” screen telling me the bluetooth needs to be serviced.  I had to wait several weeks for an appointment, but I have a loaner in the driveway.  Unfortunately it is an older P85+ without autopilot.  I was hoping to test the autopilot and write my impressions here on this blog.  Even with these issues, Tesla employees are great to deal with and they make servicing the car painless.  I can’t imagine going back to dealing with an ICE as my daily driver.

My only question is should I buy the extended warranty?  I had gathered my list of service issues in an attempt to make that decision making writing this timely post easier.  I’d love to hear your thoughts if I should spend $4,000 to extend my warranty for another four years and 50,000 miles.  I do not expect to be driving as much as I have in the past.


12 thoughts on “My Model S 50,000 Mile Service Record

  1. Whats your annual mileage? I think it comes down to how long a period does the extended warranty cover. For me its 18 months so thats not a great investment. But if its 4 years then I would probably have done it. Even 3 years would have been a clear win. 1-2 years not so much.

    • I really don’t have a consistent annual mileage as I don’t work. I did the 10,000 mile cross country trip. So if I take that out it is 16,000 or little over 3 years. So maybe, I’ve just been on the fence as I have no idea how much these parts cost, or even labor.

  2. According to the NYT, the survey was of 1,400 Tesla owners, not 140 as you wrote in the 1st sentence.
    And I would buy the warranty – with such a low VIN, your car is destined to be a classic in a decade.

    • oops. thanks for the correction!

      I never thought of the “classic” angle. My Roadster was a very early VIN, but I didn’t want to hang onto it and the Model S.

  3. My car (delivered about 7 weeks ago) has a 98,000-and-change VIN, but I still bought the extended coverage for 4 years, and I’ll almost certainly purchase the additional 4-year cover when the time comes – for the very reason you cite. Nobody on earth builds a car like this, and while it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that these cars are still beta vehicles, in legacy car industry-speak, 100,000 cars is the blink of an eye. Not a big production run to work out every last kink.

    That said, I’m still in the “over the moon” phase with the car; I have a Tesla Grin whenever I get within 20 feet of it.

    I look forward to that being the case for many, many years. I hope to be in a position to say “well _that_ was $3800 I could have spent on other toys,” but better safe than sorry.

  4. I would not want to own this car out of warranty. Their repair charges are astronomical. As to the autopilot, I have it and I’m really not understanding the point of it. It drives itself but you must a) keep your hand on the wheel b) be fully informed of the road and car situations c) take over if necessary. Why bother?

    • I agree with you on both aspects.

      The autopilot is “exciting” because of the technology more than the practical aspect. It is kind of cool that the car can do what it can do but does it really help the actual driver?? I already drive mentally on autopilot already.

    • Autopilot is in its early stages. Be patient.
      And occasional wheel contact is required by EVERY automaker that has a comparable system. I’m sure that even when these systems become much more reliable, regulations will still require occasional steering wheel contact

  5. Autopilot in an airplane is meant to assist the pilot with the flight controls so he can direct some of his attention to other tasks he must do when flying. Assuming an IFR flight, someone else (ATC) is GUARANTEEING you won’t hit another aircraft. Autopilot in a car… Different animal. In flight, you are not inches away from another aircraft. Traveling on the highway, even using the system as its intended, the car comes very close to other cars, much to close for my comfort. I’m all for technical innovation but over the long haul, it’s just a matter of time before this system puts drivers in perilous situations. The press is going to relentlessly flog Tesla when these accidents start coming to light. I sold my RWD 85 for a 70D to get the hardware… I don’t see it developing into something that can guarantee safety. And once the accidents pile up, or a traffic fatality happens… Watch the stock drop like a rock. And the auto park… No way this thing can put itself in my garage now or ever. It doesn’t have the sensor tolerances to navigate the opening. Every time I park, it says STOP because it thinks I’m too close. I’m their biggest fan, but these pie in the sky features are light years away from human decision making.

  6. Hey. Have a Model S now since May 2014 and my experience with tesla differs a lot the what you write in the blog, I have so many stories of FAILED service you wold not believe. For example they called me in Jan this year and asked if I was still interested in buying a Model S.. have plenty of stories like that so for me their service is a huge joke.

    But my worst problem is that from the very first day I got the car I had a strange problem with my roof (have panorama roof) that I reported the same day, its an intermittent problem that occurs when it is sunny = the roof gets hot, if I have any speed above 40km/h when closing, the glass bends on the back and the roof leaks. This makes a lot of noise when driving and also leaks water if raining. Strange is that if the glass cools down it can settle back to its normal state (not always the case since I have been driving around for weeks with this issue) I have had the car on service 6 or 7 times now to fix this issue and it is still not fixed. Next mail I send to tesla now will be of a bit more juridical nature…

    P.S. Last service I waited 5 months for and 3 days before service date Tesla called me and said they did not have time to look at the car and wanted to reschedule to a late date that they could not specify at the time…..

    I regret buying this car.

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