Tesla's reliability rating drops after Model Y problems

Tesla founder Elon Musk.
Tesla founder Elon Musk. Photo credit: Getty

Tesla Inc's newly introduced Model Y crossover, which has had body-hardware and paint issues, dragged down the electric-car maker's standing in Consumer Reports magazine's annual reliability study.

Owners of the Model Y, which began production in January, have reported misaligned body panels that had to be fixed and mismatched paint including, in one case, human hair stuck in the paint, according to Consumer Reports. The Model Y finished with a "much worse than average" reliability rating.

Tesla's ranking would have risen a few spots if not for the Model Y's performance, said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.

New models often have reliability issues, but Tesla's problems were not typical.

"I am surprised that we would see just basic paint and trim type issues and body panel fitment issues," he said in an interview. "You would think that that would have been worked out a long time ago."

"Really disappointing when you spend this much money for a car and hopefully they'll be able to rectify a lot of these as time goes by," Fisher added.

Tesla's ranking slipped two spots to November 25 out of 26 brands rated in the US market, ahead of only Ford Motor Co's F.N Lincoln luxury brand, according to the annual survey released on Thursday. 

The Tesla Model S sedan and Model X SUV were both "worse than average, with the former losing its "recommended" status, Fisher said. The Model 3 sedan maintained an "average" rating and its "recommended" status.

Tesla could not be reached for comment.

The poll predicts which new cars will give owners fewer or more problems, based on data collected for more than 300,000 vehicles from model years 2000 to 2020. Its scorecard is influential among consumers and industry executives.

Brands with no major changes to their lineups, such as Mazda Motor Corp, made gains. Mazda finished above Toyota Motor Corp's Toyota and Lexus brands, marking the first time a Toyota brand did not finish first in the survey, Fisher said.

The reliability of full-sized pickups, the most popular vehicles in the US market, was weaker.

General Motors Co's Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups had "much worse than average" reliability, while Fiat Chrysler Automobile's Ram pickup finished "worse than average." Ford's F-150 was not rated because a redesigned model was just launched, but the larger F-250 and F-350 versions were "average."