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In the market for a used, early model Tesla? You might want to read this before you buy

Owner data, compiled by Plug In America, suggests that 2/3 of earliest Tesla Model S drivetrains need replacement at 60,000 miles. Now you know why Consumer Reports ejected this car from its coveted "recommended buy" list in October of 2015. However, can Tesla Motors correct the Model S drivetrain reliability issue with a design change?


In all fairness to Tesla Motors, let us first mention that the company has a remarkable 8 year warranty coverage on the drivetrain. It protects new and used Model S owners. In August 15, 2014 Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote in Tesla Motors' blog that "the Tesla Model S drive unit warranty has been increased to match that of the battery pack. That means the 85 kWh Model S, our most popular model by far, now has an 8 year, infinite mile warranty on both the battery pack and drive unit. There is also no limit on the number of owners during the warranty period."

Now, there are several types of opinions being discussed in electric car forums.

The first one, in defense of Tesla Motors, says "This is like discovering that you have to change a timing belt after only 60,000 miles." The second type of opinion considers this a serious problem that needs to be quickly addressed.

The third type hopes Tesla will correct the issue with a design change. "There is no reason an electric car for that kind of money can not last 300,000 miles. My Saturn did - with oodles of repairs along the way - and the Tesla will with no maintenance," writes Christopher Booth in Electric Cars group on Facebook.

The last type of opinions belong to people whose drivetrains Tesla Motors has replaced. They think it's great because Tesla has responsibly taken responsibility and learned something from all the early adopters. The company has fixed it and is moving on.

The alarm on this very issue has been raised last year in October, when TorqueNews covered this article, in which we said.

The Tesla Model S has had its share of minor problems, which is not unexpected from a young automaker producing its first mass-production vehicle. Of note, Edmunds experienced drive unit problems that turned out to be alarmingly common among early-production models.

What is your take on this? What do you think Tesla Motors should do to address this drivetrain reliability issue?

Reference: Tesla Model S Survey Vehicles


David White (not verified)    December 11, 2015 - 8:50AM

I have one of the first Teslas, yes the drive train was replaced. Because it made a funny noise, no other reason, it makes noise, replace, no hassle.

What isn't mentioned: it only took five hours. in by 7, out for lunch with a new motor installed. It took longer for annual service than for a motor replacement.

The last gasoline engine replacement took how long, and they fought you every step of the way.Then wanted to charge you for a tuneup afterwords.