Posted on August 10, 2018 by Charles Morris
There are plenty of rave reviews from Tesla Model 3 owners on YouTube and elsewhere, but as the saying goes, the plural of anecdote is not data. There have also been plenty of posts on reddit complaining about Model 3s that were delivered in terrible shape, but there’s another saying about the reliability of anonymous online posts, and some of these sound pretty far-fetched.
Above: Model 3 ready to be delivered to a customer (Image: EVANNEX)
If you’d like to see a more comprehensive look at the satisfaction levels of Model 3 owners, and the various problems they’ve encountered, check out this Tesla Model 3 Owners Survey.
The survey originated from a discussion on the Model 3 Owners Club, and was advertised there and on the Tesla Motors Club, the official Tesla forum, and the Tesla Motors reddit page. It is based on 193 responses received over the course of a week. The authors of the survey discuss their methodology in detail (including a couple of clever “honeypot” questions specially designed to weed out trolls). However, the survey does not identify its authors, which limits its credibility. Scientific studies and surveys include the names and organizational affiliations of all authors. In this online age, anonymous postings are common, but savvy information consumers (all too rare, alas) understand that surveys of this kind are the online equivalent of a conversation with a stranger at a cocktail party.
That said, while we wait for an academic institution or media outlet to perform a more formal survey, we can have some fun with the results of this one (for informational purposes only, of course).
Above: Tesla Model 3 charge port door (Image: EVANNEX)
The survey breaks down Model 3 problems into categories - Panel/Trim Fit and Alignment; Paint; Loose Trim; Squeaking and Rattling; Glass Cracking, etc - and tabulates the percentage of respondents who experienced problems, the severity of those problems, and how they were resolved.
In most of the categories we find that the majority of owners experienced no problems, a substantial number had minor or moderate issues, and a small number had serious problems. For example, in the category Panel/Trim Fit and Alignment, 83% reported no unevenness outside of expected margins, 12% reported that one panel was slightly off, and the rest reported more noticeable gaps. One common issue has to do with the charge port door - 14% of respondents reported problems. The most common problem of all is that the Tesla app is sometimes slow to wake up - a minor inconvenience that affected all but 13% of respondents. The most serious potential issue is probably drive unit failure, which was a problem with early Model S vehicles. Tesla seems to have greatly improved its quality control in this area, as 97.3% of respondents had no problems at all, and only two individuals required a drive unit replacement.
The survey also asked owners about their experiences getting problems fixed - for each category, we learn how long it took Tesla to make repairs. Another very interesting set of data is the incidence of each problem over time. In most cases, there seems to have been steady improvement - most of the major problems showed up on early production vehicles, and even minor issues have become less common. For example, while the much-publicized panel gaps were common in the early days of production, for cars delivered in May 2018, there were no “major” problems, and 89% of users reported no issues at all.
Above: Tesla's Model 3 (Image: EVANNEX)
What about general satisfaction? Nearly 80% of respondents chose the hyperbolic “YEEEEEEEAAAAYYYYY!” Only one respondent out of 184 described themself as “somewhat satisfied,” and not a single respondent said they were unsatisfied.