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Clean Transport consumer-reports-tesla

Published on August 13th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Consumer Reports Latest To Have Tesla Woes

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August 13th, 2014 by
 
consumer-reports-tesla

Originally posted on GAS2

With four drive unit replacements and two new battery packs, the Edmunds long-term review of the Tesla Model S has raised some reliability concerns regarding the electric sedan. Joining the chorus of concerned publications is Consumer Reports, which delivered one of the most glowing reviews of the Model S to date but has updated its review with some reliability issues they encountered.

Unlike Edmunds, Consumer Reports hasn’t experienced any drive unit or battery failures, though it did encounter pop-out door handles that occasionally didn’t pop out. Also, just before their 12,000 mile service appointment, the massive touchscreen console that controls almost all of the car’s functions went blank, leaving the car unable to even charge. That doesn’t bode well for the highest-rated car in the magazine’s history.

All these issues, as well as a few other quibbles (like a non-functioning trunk lid and replacement rear seatbelts) were fixed at no cost to Consumer Reports. It does, however, show just how hard it is to build a car from scratch these days. Tesla has reportedly ironed many of these issues out, and Consumer Reports noted that some fixes were done with over-the-air updates that didn’t even require a visit to the service center.

With the latest Consumer Reports reliability ratings just a month around the corner, will Tesla lose its vaunted “Recommended” rating due to reliability woes? Or is this otherwise well-crafted electric car still good enough to remain one of the highest-rated vehicles in the magazine’s history?

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • Alan Dean Foster

    “All these issues….”
    You mention two (2). Is there some aspect of the English language that I’m missing?

    • GCO
      • Alan Dean Foster

        “Consumer Reports hasn’t experienced any drive unit or battery failures, though it did encounter pop-out door handles that occasionally didn’t pop out. Also, just before their 12,000 mile service appointment, the massive touchscreen console that controls almost all of the car’s functions went blank, leaving the car unable to even charge.”

        Nope, didn’t miss it the article. The above is what you reference when you say “all these issues”. Not Edmunds, and not the following “these, plus a few other quibbles.”

        If you’d referenced Edmunds’ problems plus the quibbles, then “all these issues” would have been accurate. But you didn’t. You only referenced the two.

        FYI, the car is quite drivable even if the center screen goes blank (doesn’t affect the driver’s dash screen) and you can charge it simply by opening the charge port (via the button on the charging cable or a phone app) and plugging in. You can monitor the charging via the phone app even if the center screen stays blank.

        • Steve Grinwis

          It specifically said the car was unable to charge in the article, are you suggesting you’ve seen differently? That would be interesting, and re-assuring information.

          • Alan Dean Foster

            From the CS article: “the center screen went blank, eliminating access to just about every function of the car, including popping open the charge port.”
            This says they couldn’t open the charge port from the (blanked) center screen. It doesn’t say they couldn’t charge the car (utilizing one of the other methods I reference previously).
            It would indeed be interesting to know if they tried the other methods, and if so, what eventuated.

  • Kyle Field

    Highest rated car in consumer reports history with a few glitches (for a brand new car company at this scale and a brand new model car). I’m thinking that still qualifies it as recommended. It’s just a function of doing things en masse for the first time. my humble 2 cents…

    • Lakshman Dalpadado

      Even with many cars needing drive train replacements, battery pack replacements, tires needing replacement after 10,000 Kms, break downs and getting stranded, sticky door handles, non-releasing power cords, non-functioning screen, non-releasing boot lid, etc, etc???

      • Kyle Field

        Yup, it’s still the highest rated car in history, even with that stuff.

        • Lakshman Dalpadado

          Do you really believe what these dim witted motoring journalists write?

          • Kyle Field

            I question your wit if you continue to come back here just to berate these articles. Yes, I believe in Tesla. Yes, I believe the great, educational news published on this fine news site (the #1 clean tech news site in the world if I recall correctly). Do you have another clean tech/green tech site that you prefer? I’m open to other options…but in my searching, I have not found a higher quality source…

          • Lakshman Dalpadado

            I am not talking about Green Tech – I am talking about the intellectual capabilities of Motoring Journalists. Most of them don’t know the difference between and ORV ( Off -Road vehicle) , SUV and a crossover. They write about 4 door coupe cars and SUVs . Since the French introduced the terms to describe their versions of Coupes and Cabriolets, a Coupe’ has always been( body type) a medium to large 2 door car with 4 seats, with rakish front and rear windscreens, longish bonnet and shorter boot. Motoring Journalists speak of Mercedes ” Shooting Brake ” wagon — which is absolute nonsensical. They do not know that It is a type of wagon that British aristocracy used for a ” Shooting Break ” — not Brake– a shooting holiday break and the wagon’s cargo compartment floor was made of wood. Underneath the wooden floor was a compartment made to hold guns,ammo, etc needed for a Shooting Break — shooting quail, Wood Pigeons, etc.Just a few examples to show how ignorant modern Motoring Journalists are.
            Coming to Tesla — Its a car looking for a purpose. Most Families have two cars and the ideal combination would be a small car to get to work( only one person usually goes to work, and easy to navigate and park) in the city and an SUV or ORV to transport the whole family for a weekend trip. Most BEVs – small one like Leaf or BMW i3 –are used for a short trip to the office or to do a bit of shopping and ideal for the job. But a Tesla S? It is expensive and too big for city use in most countries and not suitable for a week end trip to Grand canyon . For example in Europe where Cities were built in 500BC and have very narrow streets. And it is not suitable for a weekend fishing trip due to very poor ground clearance and lack of a four wheel drive system. Most large manufacturers understand the market — small vehicle for office commute and a larger SUV type vehicle for family use where children, dogs and camping equipment will all go into an SUV. Where are you going to put the dogs in a Tesla.

            What Musk has gotten wrong is that the Days of the Saloon cars are numbered. I use a small sports car for daily commute and personal use and a an SUV for longer trips with the family — dogs included.

            Electric cars are the future- but I doubt that they will be BEVs. The ICE is so inefficient( 0nly 30% efficient) and polluting the sooner it goes the better.

  • Steve Grinwis

    These issues are disconcerting…

    • Kyle Field

      I would be curious to see how relevant they are at a statistical level vs just individual issues. All cars have issues (they are huge, complex, ever evolving beasts of technology after all)…just as with the fires, all Tesla issues are over exaggerated…and should be looked at across the entire fleet on a % of vehicles impacted basis…and more relevantly, when compared to their peer group. Not saying these issues are insignificant, just not able to be examined as presented.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Perhaps it is just bad luck, but there have been a lot of drive units replaced. I’ve owned a lot of cars. I’ve yet to replace an engine.

        I like Tesla, I want to buy a model III. But I hope they get these QC issues under control. These are all reports from early production models. Hopefully that’s all this is.

    • Lito Tongson

      Steve, have you ever owned a car which was free of any glitches? I have yet to find one. If you have, please let me know.

      • Steve Grinwis

        I’ve had cars with glitches. I’ve never had to replace an engine or transmission.

        These electric drivetrains are actually wrote simple compared to an ICE mechanically.

        Hopefully these are all issues from early production, and are now resolved.

        • grendal

          Replacing a motor is not like replacing an engine. One is very simple and takes 10 to 15 minutes and the other is a complex beast that takes hours to do and only by a professional. The motors don’t have to be replaced but they are making an annoying noise. The repair is a 50 cent shim. It is easier to quickly replace the motor then refurbish the old one for the next person. It is resolved now.

          • Steve Grinwis

            There are relatively few people you hear about that need differentials re-shimmed from the factory. It’s also not a $0.50 fix. That’s the price of the part. But the labor to pull the motor, rip apart the differential, check the run-out, shim it, re-check it, make sure the gears are setting up nicely, and put it all back together is a couple of hours.

            Source: I looked into replacing the gears in my old car. Parts: $150. Labor: $1150.

            Look guys, I realize I’ve said something vaguely anti-tesla, so the attack dogs have come out to tear me limb from limb. I guess that’s fine, it’s to be expected here.

            But, given the option, I’d rather that these cars never had any issues, regardless of the reason or excuse. And this isn’t a software update, this is where they’re ripping out the entire drive unit, and / or battery pack. We’re talking about a re / re of tens of thousand of dollars worth of equipment. I’m looking at putting real money down, on my own real Tesla in a few years, and I don’t like hearing about things that might potentially impact my investment. Especially when the Tesla warranty isn’t particularly awesome.

            Note to self: Spring for the extended warranty.

          • grendal

            Nothing I said was an attack. I’m just pointing out that you are comparing a complex engine from what you are used to, a gas car, to an electric motor. Tesla says it is a simple fix and that new cars don’t have the issue. The motors aren’t ruined and Tesla can make the modifications at their leisure. The expensive equipment isn’t lost so it just comes down to having someone make the repairs to the motors with issues.

            Owner’s have said that Tesla has fixed every issue they’ve had and the process is better than anything they’ve had to do with a dealership warranty issue. I’ll have to go with actual owners opinion on this.

            I plan on buying one next year. If you haven’t gotten a test drive yet, I highly recommend it. The car was freakin’ amazing. I really want the Model III, but waiting another three years to buy a Tesla would drive me crazy.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I’m comparing a complex engine that rarely ever has issues, with the average car requiring one minor repair every two years on average, and a much simpler mechanical unit that we have several high profile examples of being replaced a couple times a year. What are the odds that consumer reports and Edmunds both got lemons? Either that’s bad luck, or they really need to fire the guy setting up their diffs at the factory. I’m guessing it’s the latter. It’s not like setting up diffs is rocket surgery. Lada managed to figure it out.

            Let’s be clear. I’m a huge EV fan. I’m one of the early adopters, and I drive an EV to work every day. I’m also a huge Tesla fan, and I plan on buying a Model III when they’re out. I firmly believe the Model III is going to rock the automotive world. But to do that, these cars have to roll off the line and be awesome all the time. Not just most of the time.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “setting up their diffs at the factory”?

          • Steve Grinwis

            As I understand it, the issue with drive units is that the differentials are being shipped out of spec.

            This is the result of the differential gears being ever so slightly out of alignment, causing the ‘milling noise’ that some have reported. That’s what the shims being referred to are. You have to adjust the alignment of the differential gears until they’re pretty much bang nuts perfect. So, you take a tiny shim, and you use it to adjust the runout until it’s within spec.

            Because the tolerances are so tight, you have to take into account really weird things, like the tension on casings. Having bolts tightened or not can actually be enough to throw your measurement off.

            That being said: This is all really standard stuff, that Tesla really should have had nailed down.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Ah, differential.

            I thought “setting up their diffs” was some sort of engineer speak for quality control standards or something.

          • grendal

            Hello Steve. Elon admitted that they went overboard with Edmunds. They replaced motors that didn’t need replacing because the problem was a wire and not the drive unit. Once they figured out the real problem there hasn’t been anymore problems with the car. I can’t remember exactly what it was but it was something like that. The cars worked. CR still says the car is the most phenomenal car they’ve ever tested – that is a direct quote. They just commented that the car had some issues that an owner might consider inconvenient.

      • Lakshman Dalpadado

        I have had my Volvo XC 60 D5 AWD for two years — so far ZERO glitches.

        • Lito Tongson

          Really? Better look here:

          http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchResults;jsessionid=TlHbT8BYKbXZyTVTYl96F6Gp6jd2pvD0yhV2fXRsYjyXFhy6TBk2!-404377577
          First recall seems insignificant, second one below is probably a little more critical.

          Have you had these recall items fixed? Don’t know if your vehicle is within the dates but you should probably check.

          SUMMARY:

          VOLVO IS RECALLING CERTAIN MODEL YEAR 2012 S60, XC60, S80 AND XC70 VEHICLES MANUFACTURED FROM MAY 16, 2011, THROUGH OCTOBER 6, 2011. IN THESE VEHICLES, THE WIRE HARNESS UNDER THE FRONT SEATS MAY HAVE NOT BEEN ATTACHED PROPERLY TO THE SEAT FRAME. AS A RESULT, WHEN THE SEATS ARE MOVED TO ADJUST THE SEATING POSITION, THE WIRE HARNESS MAY GET PULLED, CAUSING IT TO DISCONNECT.

          CONSEQUENCE:

          IN THE EVENT OF CRASH, THE FRONT AND/OR SIDE IMPACT AIR BAGS MAY DEPLOY IMPROPERLY OR NOT AT ALL, INCREASING THE RISK OF INJURY. ALSO, THE LAP BELT PRETENSIONER MAY NOT DEPLOY.

          REMEDY:

          VOLVO WILL NOTIFY OWNERS, AND DEALERS WILL INSPECT AND, IF NECESSARY, SECURE THE SEAT WIRE HARNESS. THIS SERVICE WILL BE PERFORMED FREE OF CHARGE. THE SAFETY RECALL BEGAN ON APRIL 12, 2012. OWNERS MAY CONTACT VOLVO CARS AT 1-800-458-1552.

          NOTES:

          THE VOLVO RECALL CAMPAIGN NUMBER IS 250. CUSTOMERS MAY CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153); OR GO TO http://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.

          • Lakshman Dalpadado

            These are safety issues and are not ” glitches” that affect the use of the car– does not interfere with your daily use of the car — and the driver is not aware of until a very safety conscious manufacturer– Volvo — inform the owners. Also the numbers are very small and my vehicle was not one that was affected.
            An issue like ” air bag may not inflate properly ” is quite different from 1. Boot lid not opening when your hands are full of shopping 2. Unable to open the doors to get in 3. stuck door handles 4. Stuck power cord 5. Drive train replacement 6. Battery replacement 7. Tire replacement — all within two years — and all common problems with Model S. Anyway congratulations for your effort, after trolling the internet , find something that is not working in a Volvo car– a rare achievement. In the two years I have had the Volvo XC60 I have only been to the Dealer twice — for routine annual service.

          • Lito Tongson

            No trolling. One google search. Simple. And proved my point. No car is perfect, not even your Volvo

    • RobS

      First home made car from a new start up, it would be more disconcerting if they didn’t have a few gremlins to work out, they are learning and they are fixing them as they go and they have proven themselves to be nimble enough to fix things on the fly and incorporate the fixes into the production line and will no doubt be incorporating all this knowledge into the a model as and Gen 3.
      We also know that 2 out of the 3 Edmunds drive unit replacements turned out to be easily fixable problems they just elected to swap out the unit to get Edmunds back out on the road then work out the problem in their own time, the downside of that is the appearance that they have had 3 total drive unit failures which is not true.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Having to replace an engine even once is disconcerting.

        Hopefully these issues are all sorted out.

      • Steve Grinwis

        The one total drive failure that stranded them… do we know anything about what that was about?

        • Randall Smith

          I think it was a faulty sensor in the inverter. Musk addressed the drivetrain issues including fixes including a 50 cent shim for a tolerance issue and a tie-wrap for a loose cable, both of which caused noise. I found references to those two issues, but I can’t find a reference to the inverter sensor issue, which I’m sure I read a few days ago.

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