There are a few reasons why people tend to gravitate toward big names like Tesla. For one, the more popularized something is, the more that consumers seem to trust the quality of said product. However, time has taught us that this is obviously not always a good assumption to make.
Then there are those buyers that don’t even consider quality when shopping around for a vehicle, instead looking for what would project their desired image. Tesla fits nicely in most people’s minds because their cars are state-of-the-art, trendy, and expensive. Anyone who is image-obsessed is instantly drawn to products like Teslas.
But there are also plenty of consumers who genuinely prefer cleaner energy alternatives. Since Tesla runs on electricity, which can even come from a home solar array, for anyone environmentally-friendly, these cars are the ultimate choice. Still, there is a lot more to this manufacturer than meets the eye.
Not everything is unicorns and rainbows when it comes to an electric vehicle, and Tesla (undoubtedly) has a few kinks to work out. However, some of these flaws have seemingly been ignored or swept away from the public eye. There are some things that are never openly admitted or speculated about Tesla vehicles, yet we harshly criticize run-of-the-mill autos with ease. Out of fairness—and for potential buyers, necessity—we should take a look at a few of the complaints that current owners have raised about these beloved EVs.
25 They May Not Be The Best Quality Vehicles
If you have ever experienced difficulties with a Tesla, firsthand, then you probably know better than anyone how pricey repairs can become if they’re not covered by a warranty or insurance. This explains why insurance premiums are so high for these vehicles. However, the truth of the matter is that even if you’re not paying to replace those parts, they are much poorer quality than we’re all led to believe. If Tesla’s parts were, in fact, of great quality, then we wouldn’t have freak issues such as bolts rusting off after a mere few years of ownership, or falcon doors constantly misaligning themselves. Not everything on a Tesla is inherently low-quality, but Tesla is certainly cutting corners. The durability shows in the longevity of the parts and by how early rattling, squeaking, and other common problems seem to surface.
24 The Model 3 Speedometer Is In Your Peripheral
The golden rule we’re all taught in driving school is to keep your eyes on the road. This is, obviously, why police have been cracking down on drivers who use handheld electronic devices while driving. You would expect that a carmaker would probably build a car with safety in mind and take things like this into consideration during the design process. But technology comes first for Tesla. Their (controversial) touchscreen is also the home for the speedometer, which on the edge of the driver’s peripheral vision, which means that they have to look away from the road in order to see what speed they’re going. It’s not necessarily the biggest problem, at least in hindsight, but it can become a dangerous feature for the unsuspecting.
23 Maintenance Costs Will Burn A Hole In Your Pocket
Part of the appeal of buying something expensive is the expectation that it will save you money in the future. But Tesla has earned a spot in the hall-of-fame for overpriced vehicles, and that doesn’t just apply to the sticker price but also takes into account all of the maintenance costs that plague owners. Even though the Tesla’s don’t need oil changes, spark plug replacements, or oil filters, Tesla recommends drivers invest in their maintenance plans that include a thorough inspection of the vehicle every 12,000 miles. The prices vary based on the year and model of the car, as well as which specific plan the driver chooses, but standalone inspections range anywhere from $475 to $750 per visit (not including repairs). A four-year maintenance plan is around $2,500. Needless to say, you’ll need to have a good chunk of change set aside for these evaluations.
22 Power Steering Failure Is A Major Issue
It’s true that Teslas tend to carry a bit of technological baggage with there state-of-the-art devices. Most of it is just annoying more than it is dangerous, but rest assured, Tesla has also managed to squeeze in a few mechanical problems as well. They’ve been much less common than the cosmetic flaws but can have life-threatening outcomes. A few new Tesla owners have experienced problems with the steering wheel locking up while turning. Not only will you see your life flash before your eyes, but you may be dismayed to find out that several weeks of repairs are typically involved since it’s not an issue that Tesla has completely resolved.
21 Tesla Service Centers Have Slow Turnaround
Speaking of car troubles, Tesla dealerships are so sparse that many owners are forced to plan out their trip to the service center much more thoroughly than the average driver would. Unfortunately, the plight with their new Tesla’s can sometimes be uncharted territory for mechanics—this is a relatively new technology, after all—so it may take several days, and sometimes even weeks, before owners get to see their cars again. What’s worse is that many of these technical difficulties aren’t fully resolved during the first visit. Like we’ve said before, there isn’t much knowledge on electric vehicles and technicians may not be as familiar with the problems that plague these vehicles, primarily because a Tesla operates more like a computer than it does an old gas guzzler.
20 Are Tesla Owners Actually Just Beta Testers?
It may seem strange, but new owners have run into so many glitches with their Teslas that some of them have even considered whether or not these cars are actually ready to be sold. In fact, some have even taken things a step further and theorized that these early Tesla owners are actually paying beta testers. It’s definitely far-fetched, but it’s also not a bad deal, at least in Tesla’s terms. How else can anyone explain the consistent malfunctions that service departments never really seem to have answers for? Teslas are well-made vehicles, but considering that they are in the early phases of development, they’re quite overpriced. No matter how you look at it, electric vehicle owners (in general) are beta testers for this new technology.
19 The Emergency Release Is Tempting
It may seem like a nitpick (and it is) but the terrible placement of the emergency handle is also a potential threat to the car and therefore, it’s a necessary point to bring up. Since Tesla’s vehicles don’t have your average door handle and everything in the car is electric, the manufacturer was witty enough to install an emergency handle on the interior to prevent passengers from getting trapped inside. There’s just one little flaw with this idea: the placement. Since new passengers aren’t used to the high-tech vehicle, they tend to go for the emergency handle instead of using the standard electric button that opens the door. This is an honest mistake since the emergency handle is near where a door handle normally would be, but if it’s pulled too often it can and will crack the window. And that’s the last thing any Tesla owner wants to deal with.
18 Blind-Spot Detection Has An Illogical Placement
Another feature that is seen in many modern-day vehicles (electric or not) is blind-spot detection. This is a nice touch to have and is practically expected on a high-end vehicle these days. The only thing that separates Tesla from other manufacturers that are employing blind-spot detection is the placement of the detector. Similar to the difficulty that people have seeing the speedometer, the blind-spot detection doesn’t alert drivers of a threat on the side-view mirrors like most vehicles do. Instead, a notice pops up on the touchscreen. A lot of people have something against the touchscreen and, while we don’t find it to be all bad, there are instances such as this one when it’s understandable why it can become a nuisance. If every feature is integrated into the touchscreen, it seems like the entire car revolves around a mounted iPad.
17 Cosmetic Problems Should Be Expected From Factory
Have you ever bought something nice only to have it experience defects shortly after? If you’ve put a good amount of cash into it, it’s not only inconvenient but also extremely frustrating. Proud Tesla owners have been extremely let down to find that their overpriced electric vehicle has scratches all over their car and bulges in the windshield. These unfortunate Teslas were born with cosmetic defects from the factory. Clearly, the newbie manufacturer hasn’t been able to get the assembly process down yet. Waiting out the initial wave of manufacturer defects would be wiser than jumping on a waiting list for the latest and greatest model.
16 The Trunk Isn't Great For Short People
It wouldn’t seem like anyone could possibly have something bad to say about the trunk, of all things. If you know anything about customer service, though, there’s always a glitch waiting to be found. One of the most (seemingly) neutral parts of the car, the trunk, is oddly tall for the average human. Model 3 owners have noticed that the trunk opens up vertically, at almost a complete ninety-degree angle. It’s great for loading, however, if you’re on the short side you may find it a bit challenging reaching up to close it. A Model 3 owner who is close to six-foot-three found that it was even above his own height.
15 Model 3 Owners Want Better Tires
There are some things that you never know about a car until you personally own it. And, to be fair, owners tend to critique their own cars harshly. A common nitpick with the Tesla Model 3 is the obnoxious fact that it comes with all-terrain (otherwise known as, ‘all season’) tires. Many Model 3 owners dislike this because they want more performance-oriented tires. Not to say that it’s not a smooth ride—it has received incredible reception for that alone—but if it was included with performance tires, the experience could be enhanced tremendously. The shared belief among many owners (specifically, those who don’t need winter tires) is that all-terrain tires should be something that a buyer can purchase on their own if they happen to need them.
14 Repairs (And Insurance) Will Gouge Your Wallet
Along with the sketchy aspect of having an electric vehicle, there’s also a major setback on the cost to repair it as well. While a charge may not be so pricey, the cost to replace any of the parts on a Tesla can really become a burden. For instance, if you had to buy a new battery for a Model 3, the base would cost around $6,500 (on the low end) and the extended-range battery would come close to $10k. Sadly, that’s as much as a used car (maybe even a few). There’s a domino effect with these overpriced repairs as well, as the price to insure a Tesla tends to be more than the average vehicle. The high rate of accidents in Teslas is partly to blame, but their expensive repairs are no help.
13 Tesla Is Too Cool For Dealerships
Tesla has just recently begun opening service centers in areas with a large amount of foot traffic, but the idea of dealerships is a concept of the past for this manufacturer. Following a completely different business model from the traditional car manufacturers, Tesla sells its cars directly to its customers through their own small, intimate stores. This allows Tesla to educate the customers on what exactly they're getting into with an electric vehicle and to choose precisely how they’d like their car to look. Of course, it takes months for customers’ vehicles to be delivered, but this still allows them to get exactly what they want. It also means that Tesla makes money off of their cars, while traditional dealerships make money from their service departments. The drawback for a Tesla owner is that these are located, largely, in metropolitan areas and so are the service centers. Unlike traditional dealerships that are in every town, Tesla selects store and service center locations based on foot traffic.
12 There's Usually Something Cheaper Out There
Even though Tesla has managed to bring down the customer’s cost of a vehicle by cutting out dealerships altogether, they’re still pretty pricey. Many of Tesla’s major competitors have a bit of an edge by offering vehicles that aren’t 100% electric, which is an appealing point for many buyers, but they’re also less expensive. The base Chevy Volt, for instance, is cheaper than Tesla’s base Model 3. Less people are as willing to go for the Model S purely because they have no desire to have an electric vehicle that revolves around performance. For many, the price just isn’t worth it, not when the battery will need to be replaced in a matter of a few years (depending on use). This goes hand-in-hand with the cost of Tesla’s parts because consumers don’t want to spend a lot of money on a car that will also be pricey to fix down the road.
11 Autopilot Doesn't Notice Cars That Aren't Moving
As you may now well know, Tesla drivers are much more likely to get into an accident than other vehicles. Though Elon Musk doesn't want you to know about this little fact, there are a wealth of possible reasons as to why this statistic may be. One of the main suspects is the autopilot feature. It’s similar to cruise control, except the car is supposed to slow down if someone pulls out in front of you or suddenly stops. Unfortunately, Tesla’s autopilot cannot detect stationary vehicles, so if you rely heavily on this feature then you may be in for a rude awakening. You could yourself slamming into a non-moving vehicle.
10 Tesla Batteries Don't Like Cold Weather
There are so many common glitches that go on with a Tesla that drivers have become paranoid of serious troubles, especially anything involving that precious battery. If you haven’t tested one out in cold weather, don’t be alarmed at that slow acceleration, it’s normal. Yep. If you buy a $35,000 (and up!) vehicle, you can expect that the cold air will affect the battery just like it would any other vehicle. But cold prevents the battery from regenerating as quickly as it typically would, which limits the driver’s ability to move faster. It sounds simple in retrospect, but it can be a frightening few minutes for a Tesla owner to discover their car is having trouble moving quickly.
9 Accidents Are Swept Under The Rug
Contrary to what Elon Musk has claimed on social media, Tesla has been accused of having a fatality rate that’s more than triple what you see in luxury vehicles. Musk claims that Tesla’s are the safest vehicles on the road, which is either an ill-researched claim or a blatant lie on his part. Since his stats are based on vehicle miles (rather than vehicle years) it leads you to an inaccurate conclusion, and we don’t actually know how many miles these vehicles have traveled, and this also leaves out passengers. After thorough research, many of the Tesla accidents weren’t even properly coded, meaning that Musk’s claim leaves out several accidents within the US and other countries (such as China) that have higher accident rates.
8 The Rattling Will Never Cease
The little things in life shouldn’t bother you, but when it’s an incessant rattling noise in your brand-new luxury car, those little things can be difficult to ignore. There’s a common problem with Teslas experiencing rattling in several areas of the cars. Owners have taken their cars to service centers numerous times for this issue but a very rare few have seen the annoyance resolved. In fact, a few have even documented their experience online, while some have even received their car from the service center only to discover that the rattle has not gone away plus there is a new one! It shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, but the fact of the matter is that consumers have put a lot of their money into these cars and they expect a decent level of quality so if problems occur then some resolutions would be nice.
7 The SolarCity Products Are Likely A Scam
Lesser known than Tesla’s famed electric vehicles is the Solar Roof and Powerwall. As the names imply, these are solar panels that store energy that is even cleaner for the car to run off of. Just two years into this accessory, though, sales have dropped over 70% from their peak. The Powerwall 2 is said to lose 70% of its efficiency after 10 years and solar tiles are close to $42 per square foot, which is part of why most consumers steer clear. Investors aren’t extremely pleased with the outcome of SolarCity’s products (which Musk has endorsed with open arms), but the signs were written on the walls, as it were. If solar panels were cheap enough for everyone to afford, wouldn’t we all have them on our houses? Since they don’t even have a guaranteed longevity, consumers generally feel that the Powerwall and Solar Roof are simply not worth it.
6 Customer Service Is Stereotypical
The underworld of the customer service department is dreaded by customers of just about any major corporation. No customer wants to call in and get passed around from rep to rep and robot to robot. You’d think that Tesla would have come up with a more efficient way to handle their ‘valued’ customers' problems and have a decent customer service team. That’s wishful thinking, though. If you need any help, particularly with SolarCity’s products, then you can forget ever getting through to anyone the first time. Attempting to get ahold of the ‘right’ representative is a game of cat-and-mouse, and you’ll have a pretty challenging time catching them in a spare moment (when they can actually speak, at all).
5 Was Financial Failure Ever On The Table?
While it’s no secret that Tesla has struggled with sales, it raises a few questions about what that means for the future of the corporation. We don’t really know how close Tesla truly came to going under, seeing as how Elon Musk has repeatedly glossed over Tesla’s issues instead of being frank about things (e.g., the SolarCity investments, accident rates, etc). So, Musk’s exasperated croaks of how Tesla nearly went bankrupt almost sound like the boy who cried wolf, at least from an outside perspective. If Musk is being honest about the company’s financial struggles, then the future looks bleak. Scraping by when the economy is relatively stable is not a good sign for a new car company, and what happens when those battery costs skyrocket? No one is going to be willing to pay more than $40k for a base Model 3.
4 The Wheel Gaps Are Off-Putting
You don’t have to give a Tesla, specifically the Model 3, a thorough inspection to notice that there’s an insane amount of space between the tire and the fenders. It’s not an overly invasive issue, but when you’re paying around $35,000 for a car, there are a few minimum expectations that should be met. One of those is definitely a clean look. Each of the Tesla models has perfectly executed an aerodynamic style, with concealed handles and sleek lines, which makes the wheel gap that much more noticeable to anyone who happens to glance in the direction of a Model 3.
3 Low-Quality Door Handles (Model 3)
One of the most notable characteristics of every Tesla is their futuristic door handles that pop out with ease. The higher-end models have nice, metal handles with chrome finishes. However, if you happen to compare, say, a Model S to a Model 3, you’ll immediately notice the lack of strength behind the latter's handles. Not only are the door handles on the Model 3 thinner, but they seem to be made with inferior materials to the higher-tier models. There have even been a few people who have had the door handles freeze to the car, leaving them unable to get inside. We have to note that there hasn’t been a plague of door handle issues, so this isn’t an official defect, but it’s more of a cosmetic problem that could become a mechanical one in the future.
2 Fully Electric Vehicles Are Unrealistic (At Times)
The naïve car buyer is often led to believe that electric cars are all ponies and rainbows. However, many manufacturers acknowledge that we have yet to get everything down to a science. Plus, there’s a learning curve for those new to EVs, which is why most semi-electric cars are still able to be powered with gasoline. The serious drawback with a Tesla is the lack of a safety net should the battery run dead. Jumper cables are entirely out of the question, which is why owners of EV’s get anxiety on road trips and long-distance commutes. The remaining range can be inaccurate, potentially leaving a driver stranded if they don’t judge their car’s abilities correctly.
1 The Design Is Generic
Although this isn’t much of a shock at all, few fail to recognize the total lack of variety that’s offered in the Tesla fleet. Of course, the higher-end models have prettier finishes and tend to look nice no matter what, but each and every Tesla is almost identical. This is obviously the case with everyday run-of-the-mill vehicles as well, but that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? If you’re spending a good chunk of change to claim that over-hyped Tesla as your own, wouldn’t it be nice if you at least had a decent amount of options to truly make it feel like your own? For what you’re paying, it seems like there should already be a plethora of options.
Sources: PolicyGenius, Electrek, and Tesla.