The Most Common Tesla Problems

Teslas are commonly plagued with unexpected loss of power and poor manufacturing. Average annual Tesla repair costs hover around $590.
Written by Annette Maxon
Edited by Pat Roache
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The most common Tesla problems range from autopilot system failures and faulty power steering systems to unexpected loss of engine power and poor build quality.
  • Poor manufacturing and electrical issues are common sources of problems in all Tesla models.
  • The Model X is the most expensive Tesla model to maintain, but the 2013 Tesla Model S is considered the least reliable model overall.
  • The Tesla Model 3 is the least expensive Tesla from starting price to maintenance costs, and the 2021 model is lauded as the most reliable Tesla of all time.

The most common Tesla problems

Average annual Tesla repair cost: $590
Tesla is arguably the most popular electric car brand on the market, but that doesn’t mean Tesla vehicles are immune to needing
car repairs
Across the manufacturer’s four primary models, the most common Tesla problems include
  • Issues with Autopilot feature and cruise control adjustment
  • Failed power steering system
  • Occasional loss of power
  • Unable to be towed
  • Poor build quality
  • Unreliable warning lights
  • Prematurely worn-out battery pack (especially in cold weather)
Check out the most common Tesla problems by the model in the chart below:
Tesla model
2023 Starting price
J.D. Power reliability rating
Most common problems
Years to avoid
$91,380
N/A
Door handles conducting heat, faulty transmission
2013, 2016
$101,380
N/A
Autopilot failure, poor windshield visibility, faulty steering system, unexpected acceleration
2017, 2019
$41,630
N/A
Shuts down while driving, loss of power, lock system malfunctions, faulty touchscreen
2017, 2018, 2019
$52,630
N/A
Unexpected stopping, poor wheel alignment, sudden loss of tire pressure, faulty seat belt retention system
2020, 2021
Roadster
Est. $200,000
N/A
Battery failures
, faulty tire pressure monitor system, excessive road noise
N/A

Most common Tesla Model S problems

Average annual repair cost: $457 
CarComplaints.com complaints: 26
The
Tesla Model S
has grown in popularity for its sleek, high-tech features. However, this luxury model comes with the following common problems:
  • Faulty transmission systems, sometimes resulting in a full transmission replacement
  • Poor manufacturing quality
  • Sudden loss of power
  • Faulty universal joints on the drive shaft 
A risky quality issue: The streamlined door handles conduct heat when the Model S is left in the sun—burning some owners when they try to open their cars’ doors. 
Even with these issues, the Tesla Model S still makes the list of best electric vehicles of 2021.

Most common Tesla Model X problems

Average annual repair cost: $572 
CarComplaints.com complaints: 9
Several new
Tesla Model X
owners reported the following issues with their new car’s powertrain and high-tech features:
  • The Autopilot system doesn’t work at all—or malfunctions later in the car’s life.
  • Power steering failure leads to the steering wheel locking up while turning.
  • The Model X  is prone to dangerous, unexpected acceleration. 
Tesla service center mechanics have yet to find a surefire way to fix these dangerous acceleration issues, so there’s no guarantee that they’ll be covered under warranty.
Poor visibility design flaw: Model X drivers have reported “ghosting” effects in the windshield, which is when the size of the massive windshield causes drivers to develop double vision. Not only does it disorient drivers, but it also reduces the vehicle’s overall visibility. 

Most common Tesla Model 3 problems

Average annual repair cost: $359
CarComplaints.com complaints: 14
Common problems with the
Tesla Model 3
include:
  • Complete failure of the touchscreen system 
  • Getting locked out of the car  
  • Sudden loss of power while driving
Some of these issues have been traced to a faulty high-voltage controller, while others may require a simple software update to remedy. 
Least expensive Tesla: While Tesla owners are no stranger to the headaches that often come with this model, the Model 3’s average annual repair costs are lower than any other model. This helps make it one of the
best low-budget electric cars
worth buying.

Most common Tesla Model Y problems

Average annual repair cost: $473
CarComplaints.com complaints: 1
Consumer reports gives the
Tesla Model Y
a 2/5 reliability score, especially when it comes to issues with its high-tech electric vehicle transmission system.
Here are some of the Model Y’s most common issues reported by car owners:
  • Faulty wheel alignments
  • Unexpected stops caused by collision avoidance system malfunctions
  • Sudden loss of tire pressure
  • Broken seat belt retention systems

Most common Tesla Roadster problems

Average annual repair cost: N/A 
CarComplaints.com complaints: 0
Back in 2008, Tesla debuted the original Roadster, only to recall nearly 400 of the high-end vehicles for safety concerns. However, this model was not forgotten as the automaker is releasing the second-generation Roadster in 2023.
First-time users have already experienced several problems with the new Roadster:
  • Battery failures 
  • Faulty tire pressure monitoring system
  • Excessive road noise
  • Water intrusion in the headlamps
  • Overheating
  • Brake failure

Teslas have poor reliability

Tesla has consistently been rated as one of the most unreliable manufacturers on the market. In 2021, the experts at Consumer Reports ranked Tesla 27th out of 28 car makers for reliability.

The least reliable Tesla model: 2013 Tesla Model S

NHTSA complaints: 374
Most common 2013 Tesla Model S problems: 
  • Whining or grinding noises upon acceleration: This high-speed car is known to have a range of whining or grinding noises that happen upon acceleration.
  • Door handle failure: The door handle system is prone to failure early on in this model’s life.
  • Loose interior panels: Poorly-installed interior trim panels are the cause of excessive rattling noise when the car is in motion. 
The luxury sedan was introduced to combine the best of a high-performance sports car with a spacious, passenger-friendly vehicle. Though the manufacturer achieved this goal, the 2013 Model S has earned the most customer complaints because of its noisy ride. 

The most reliable Tesla model: 2021 Tesla Model 3

NHTSA complaints: 317
Most common 2021 Tesla Model 3 problems:
  • Faulty electrical system
  • Structural problems
The Model 3 is the cheapest of the Tesla line-up (starting at $39,990) and received the best reliability score from Consumer Reports, despite its common problems. This makes it an
attractive lease candidate
.
Advantages of the 2021 Tesla Model 3:
  • Solid performance over time
  • Low running costs
  • 272-mile standard driving range and 358-mile long range
  • Revamped interior
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FAQs

Teslas are designed to last 300,000 to 500,000 miles.
Despite their sky-high price and countless high-tech features, Tesla cars are unreliable because of:
  • Frequent transmission problems
  • Poor structural materials
  • Paint defects, and 
  • Serious safety concerns 
These safety concerns range from faulty autopilot systems to the car unexpectedly losing power while driving.
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