2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Wrap-Up | Edmunds.com

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited July 2014 in Tesla
image2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Wrap-Up | Edmunds.com

We had a Long-Term 2013 Tesla Model S for 17 months and drove it 30,251 miles, including cross-country, twice.

Read the full story here


  • rdollierdollie Member Posts: 16

    Wow, highly unfortunate for you AND Tesla that you drove such an early production unit. I know you show depreciation of about 1% per month of ownership but I think at the actual number is much higher since the car was new when you sold - you replaced everything but the paint!

  • davechapindavechapin Member Posts: 10

    Wow. What a spectacularly unreliable vehicle.

  • keefwivanefkeefwivanef Member Posts: 10

    Shoulda bought a Trabby!
    1989 Trabant 601 S 0.6 from Germany

    Year of manufacture 1989
    First year of ownership 2000
    Most recent year of ownership 2000
    Engine and transmission 0.6 Manual
    Performance marks 8 / 10
    Reliability marks 9 / 10
    Comfort marks 6 / 10
    Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
    Overall marks (average of all marks)
    8.0 / 10
    Distance when acquired 10000 kilometres
    Most recent distance 11000 kilometres

    A real character car


    Exhaust blown - easily welded.

    Rear fog light had to be fitted for the British MOT.

    "Problem" with the windscreen washer pump handle from the inside - leaking - still to be rectified.

    General Comments:

    Consider we are really lucky to have one.

    Superb condition, think we may get another one and keep this one under wraps.

    Really good fun.

    Brought it back from Bavaria just a few weeks ago, the man at Customs wanted it!!

    Don't knock them until you have actually got one - they are really brilliant.

    We are looking for a Tramp if anyone can help.

    Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

    Review Date: 22nd November, 2000

    23rd Mar 2003, 10:20
    The Trabant is an amazing car! On a recent trip to Berlin there were still a significant number of them going around, and that's West Berlin as well as East! People may be buying new cars such as Volkswagen, but most of them actually keep their Trabi knowing it'll be a collectors item in years to come!

    Long live the Trabant!

  • al20al20 Member Posts: 1

    1) You can't have luxury interior amenities and good resale value. This is either / or
    2) Latest active safety systems drive down resale value too. Also when it comes to safety, don't forget to mention Tesla is one of the safest cars on the road
    3) What doesn't need at least a Level 2 charger needs gasoline. And lots of it!!!

    Finally I bet your comments such as fast, thrilling performance, technologically brilliant were not made based on routine daily commute with car resale value in mind.

    You've probably exposed your car to some pretty unusually rough conditions. You say extensive list of repairs and I hear 9 days out of service over 17 months, excellent warranty, no questions asked.

    Bottom line (in the order that matters to me):

    1) Fast, technologically brilliant car with thrilling performance
    2) One of the safest on the road
    3) Good resale value
    4) No drop of gasoline, no regular maintenance needed
    5) Excellent warranty. Repairs done quickly, no questions asked

    Please kindly provide more details about what you did to your car. I am looking for a family sedan, that is also safe. Not exactly a race car.

  • throwbackthrowback Member Posts: 445

    It will be interesting to see if the Model X is more reliable. It seems Model S owners are happy being beta testers, but if Tesla wants to sell a "mainstream" 35K car (model 3), they will need to step up their game.

  • drcomputerdrcomputer Member Posts: 82

    It's funny to see all of the negative comments from people that say "why would people buy a Tesla knowing they are beta testers?" Yet I'm sure all of those people own iPhones or iPads, Windows computers, Android phones, or DVRs from their television providers. All of these devices are released well before their software is stable. The providers then update them remotely until they have worked out all of the bugs. If we've accepted this for mainstream electronics then why is there such an issue when a car maker does the same thing?

  • quadricyclequadricycle Member Posts: 827

    @drcomputer said:
    If we've accepted this for mainstream electronics then why is there such an issue when a car maker does the same thing?

    Look, if you're able to treat a car a such, fantastic; but you are in a very small minority of people who can do so. Almost everybody who owns a car DEPENDS upon it to get to work, take their kids to school, and quietly work in the background to make their lives carry on.

    Also, remember that mainstream electronics become obsolete quite quickly, so long-term reliability isn't the most important thing in the world. An iPad is also a lot cheaper than a hundred thousand dollar Telsa, or heck, even a twenty thousand dollar compact car, plus people don't depend on them like they do an automobile (their primary form of transportation). If I had an iPad and it broke, I'm probably not going to lose my job. If I can't get to work, or get there late, because my car is regularly breaking down, my boss isn't going to be happy. By the way, those who do heavily depend on electronics, be it a corporation, agency, or individual; actually have very little tolerance of unreliability. We really, really, really don't like downtime...

    You mentioned providers updating things remotely. That's actually something that I do like about the Tesla's infotainment system, even though the screen was also unreliable. It is great that features could be added, removed, or changed through a wifi connection. To bad you can't repair drive units through the internet, huh?

  • omarsultanomarsultan Member Posts: 4

    Its kinda crazy to have such a wildly different experience--I just hit the 1 year mark with my Model S and 30,000 miles later, my car, which is my daily driver, has been nothing like yours. Its been bulletproof. I think one of the things this might point to is Tesla's willingness and ability to make running changes to hardware and software. My build is probably 7 or so months later than your car, so things learned along the way are immediately applied in production.


  • kcaikcai Member Posts: 15

    Typical American car issues.Endless problems and never get fixed at the end.

  • geekydongeekydon Member Posts: 1

    Looks to me like Edmund's car was a bit of a lemon--all manufacturers have them. I've had my Model S for 15 trouble-free months. I only have about 13K miles on the car but with no problems. According to Consumer Reports approximately 99% of owners would buy the car again which indicates either stupid owners or the fact that Edmund's car was an anomaly.

  • redxsageredxsage Member Posts: 21

    Thanks again, for your thorough and informative long term review of the Tesla Model S!

  • justin70justin70 Member Posts: 1

    Your car or experience is an anomaly. In the last Tesla earning report, their total yearly warranty cost was about 9.3 million on approximately 30K cars. That makes the warranty cost per car only about 500 dollars -- which is quite different from your experience.

  • 500rwhp500rwhp Member Posts: 99

    Justin, if they have accrued for the warranty cost in a previous period (and this is often done at the time of sale), the cost of quality reported for the quarter is the presumed cost of warranty of the cars sold during that quarter. If you don't understand accrual accounting, please keep your accounting analysis to yourself.

  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    edited July 2014

    This car is in a race against the CL65 AMG in the unreliability sweepstakes, but as the CL65 hasn't had a massive engine failure requiring a replacement, the Model S is currently losing (winning?). Heck, the Model S is probably the most unreliable car that Edmunds has ever had.

    @al20 said:
    Please kindly provide more details about what you did to your car. I am looking for a family sedan, that is also safe. Not exactly a race car.

    Dude, have you not like... looked through any of their long term test entries for the Tesla?

    @drcomputer: As several commenters have noted, a car is not an electronic device. You are piloting a 2-ton vehicle at rapid speeds so it needs to be safe and reliable, especially in this day and age. You also depend on it to get to places. If this was any of Edmund's other long term testers it would be crucified, but the Tesla gets a free pass thanks to the fanatics.

  • zoomzoomnzoomzoomn Member Posts: 143

    I have to laugh at the comments for the folks defending this car. This service record is deplorable, first year, or not! A major purchase like this is not anything like an i-phone, etc!!! What a stupid comparison. Obviously They have a long way to go on their endeavors. At least you can rest easy knowing that your tax dollars are paying to get them there.

  • zephzeph Member Posts: 8

    I think the reliability issue could largely be attributed to teething problems. It is their first car, and at least reliability seems to be on par with -say- Jaguar ;-)

    I don't understand people pissing on this car for that. Here is a new company trying to build something different from the ground up, and I think they have done a remarkable job all things considered.

    Owner Satisfaction is highest ever according to Consumer Reports, so it can't be all bad.

    I'll be on the lookout for Model3.

  • jbaimerjbaimer Member Posts: 1

    Wow am i relieved, i started to feel the way Tesla service would react to issues, that i had the only white unicorn of a car with a 'spectacular' number of issues. I too had a 2013 model S only to have it go into service 11 times in 8 months over 17 various issues ranging from minor to less minor like replacement of sunroof and drivers seat. It was maddening to me a car billed to be built with fewer parts needing less service was so elusive for me. Well it gets better - this was eventually replaced by a 2014 model only to experience 3 issues in just under a month. I came to realization while a fantastic looking car, that drives super fast it is an expensive beta who isnt ready for prime time reliability needs of every day drivers. Even the high end drivers dont want to spend more days in loaners than months that they have owned their car. Too much technology in a generation one vehicle to expect anything but problems right now.

  • temooretemoore Member Posts: 3

    It might have been helpful to include a photo of your Model S doing smoking tire burnouts, for perspective. My Tesla service advisor tells me that your car has among the highest cumulative energy consumptions in their entire fleet of cars, and he strongly implies that this is prima facie evidence of routine abuse throughout your 30k miles. He characterized it as "showing off for guest journalists, etc.". But that doesn't seem to square with the consumption numbers you reported here, which were quite low and better than EPA estimates. Can you help reconcile these claims?

  • temooretemoore Member Posts: 3

    You skipped my post yesterday, but I'll try again: Today we learned that the drive train noises were usually caused by a missing shim and/or cable tie down. But you reported a roadside breakdown in connection with a drive train issue. Was it the drive train or the battery or what that caused your breakdown?

  • tridoc2tridoc2 Member Posts: 1

    As an early adopter, I took possession of my non performance 85 MS in December of 2012. After 20 months, 24K miles, and 1 annual service later, I have had absolutely no problems to report or reason to have the car serviced other than having to replace the key fob. I have had multiple LA to SF and LA to Palm Springs trips including dealing with awful, congested LA freeways on a daily basis. So far this has been the most hassle free car I have driven in my 50 years of driving…...

  • alex_the_greatalex_the_great Member Posts: 1

    You know, I read another article that has Elon Musk giving another take on the problems with the Model S that you guys had. And then reading the comments by owners on this website, leads me to believe, you guy may have been smoking the tires to trash the engine.

    If you push any piece of equipment to the limit, it will fail. How much were you guys pushing this car? In today's day and age with computers hooked up everywhere, and the computers hooked up to other computers via the internet, it is kind of hard to hide what really took place.

  • quadricyclequadricycle Member Posts: 827

    Yeah, a car shared among twenty journalists isn't going to have an easy life. In fact, you could call it accelerated durability testing. That's the whole darned point, I believe, of Edmunds acquiring cars and reporting on them here. You would think this would go without saying, but the Edmunds gang has tested PLENTY of cars this way. There's even a list of them on the right of the page! Many of them have almost nothing come up during that time, even though some of them were raced at the track plenty of times, while some have had trouble. That's the way it works people.

    But no, the Model S must have been exclusively abused. It can't just be an unreliable example of the car. Sure, the sunroof failed, but Edmunds did a burnout, that must be why! In fact, magic journalistic burnout vibrations are to blame for everything, even the failure of the MMI screen and a door that opens by itself. That just makes complete sense.

    So your personal Model S has been trouble free so far, how does that mean that EVERY Model S has been the same. That's a fallacy, last I checked. Why don't we use objective data, which shows Tesla as average to below average in reliability. No, not every car was as bad as this one, but there's still obviously issues that need to be worked out.

  • maksimmaksim Member Posts: 3

    Wow, what a lemon.

    For the guys on the ats coast, or outside Comifornia, where does the car go to get fixed?

  • na_hosoina_hosoi Member Posts: 2

    I've owned my $32k Honda Accord for over 2 years and the only thing I've had to change on it was a tail light bulb and the brakes. I've put about 52k miles on it and it's my only car and primary means of transportation.

    And my feet are made of lead! Both of them!!

    Even so, with a/c running my range is 450 - 475 city miles.

    This car appears unreliable to me. I wouldn't buy one for over 100k.

  • phowarthphowarth Member Posts: 1

    I received my Tesla Model S P85 the same month as Edmunds - February 2013. I have over 20,000 like Edmunds. My Model S has been trouble free so far. The only things that has broken has been the vanity mirror cover on the passenger side and that was replaced. I have had no problems with drive unit or screen or battery or door handles or cables.

  • dm3dm3 Member Posts: 25
    edited August 2014

    Article incorrectly states the 40kwh battery has a range of 100 miles. The expected range, even conservatively was closer to 140 miles. Tesla had stated 160 miles.

  • zykluszyklus Member Posts: 1

    30,000 miles on a test car, which means it was probably driven hard-as-hell, and 7 unscheduled trips to the dealer for repairs, all of which accumulated to a grand total of $0 in repairs.

    Sure, they had some pretty major issues (drive unit replaced 3 times, touchscreen repeatedly not working, doors & windows automatically opening, etc), but they had one of the first Model S', and it seems like Tesla was extremely helpful with their service.

    There are numerous, valid, complaints about how the Tesla doesn't live up to other luxury cars in many areas. It's true, it doesn't. It's not as mature -- it doesn't have lane sensors, or cruise control sensors, or chilled seats, or is lacking weird things like a good center console / cup holders.

    But for all the things it lacks, it's far ahead of most luxury cars in other areas. Fuel prices, performance, in-car technology, space, etc. And for what it's worth I've heard a dozen different times on various threads that "My just sits in the garage now". I think that's the highest praise you could give a car like this, that is brand new technology.

    So as far as "not recommending the car" due to its issues, I think it's absurd. Other than the very odd repeated drive unit failures, I don't think any of them were that critical. I somewhat expect Teslas to have a few issues, and if you're not willing to deal with them (via extremely helpful and friendly Tesla staff) then you probably shouldn't be buying them just yet. Wait for everything to mature a few more years. But then maybe you should just keep waiting a few more years after that, as whatever comes later is bound to be better, right? Maybe you should just never buy anything ever again.

  • david_dennisdavid_dennis Member Posts: 0

    @quadricycle I doubt Edmunds did anything in bad faith, and I don't think that's a good tack to take here. However, I do suspect that the extremely high degree of interest in the car caused a lot more usage than a typical car under test, and especially a lot more high speed demonstrations. Of course the car should be able to handle this, but it might be at least a partial explanation for some of the problems. In short, a direct comparison between the Tesla and competition may seem damning but actually be statistically insignificant.

    I notice that in a medium where disgruntled owners' access to expressive outlets is extremely high, there are still very few people complaining about the car. Most people love theirs, and I think that should count for something.

  • man_711man_711 Member Posts: 1
    Overated pieces of junk.
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