Problems dog Tesla Model 3 in Edmunds tests


2018 Tesla Model 3

2018 Tesla Model 3

Hundreds of thousands of people waiting to order their Tesla Model 3s are also anxiously waiting for word of the car's reliability and build quality.

Now Edmunds.com has released its second update on the early car that it bought, and the news isn't good. 

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With 5,257 miles on the odometer, they continue to have recurring problems with the car's electronics, focused on the center touchscreen.

-Through April, Edmunds' car continued to randomly crank the stereo volume up to "deafening," and occasionally even turn the stereo on by itself at full volume.

-The rearview camera image sometimes failed to appear. The navigation screen would zoom in and out and scroll all by itself, frequently pixelating the image.

-Icons on the map screen would flicker. The audio display would rapidly jump up and down the screen by itself.

-Or, the whole center screen, which houses most of the car's primary controls, would refuse to turn on.

Once, the car wouldn't recognize the key card from inside, and thus wouldn't engage Drive or Reverse (even after it had recognized the card from the outside and let the driver into the car.)

Edmunds Tesla Model 3 [Credit: Edmunds]

Edmunds Tesla Model 3 [Credit: Edmunds]

All of these problems required rebooting the car. For the most part, that fixed the problems temporarily, but sometimes not all the features, such as the rearview camera, came back.

Twice, the passenger's side vanity mirror fell out of the visor, and Edmunds editors pressed it back onto the double-sided tape designed to hold it in place.

After documenting the problems, Edmunds took their car into the Tesla service center, where Tesla technicians replaced the center screen and upgraded the car's software. This seemed to fix most of the problems with the center screen, such as the radio suddenly turning on and the maps going haywire, but other problems soon appeared.

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An error message would appear on the center screen telling the driver to wait before shifting into Drive or Reverse. After several seconds and a loud clunk from the rear of the car, the message would clear and the driver could shift into gear.

Edmunds Tesla Model 3 [Credit: Edmunds]

Edmunds Tesla Model 3 [Credit: Edmunds]

Another error message came on suddenly while driving, saying "Cannot maintain vehicle power. Car may stop driving or shut down." This was an isolated error message, and the car didn't shut down or stop driving, but the error message was worrisome nonetheless.

A third message said "Regenerative braking limited." The car was showing 170 miles of range at the time, so the battery should have had plenty of room to store regenerative energy. It wasn't clear what might have caused the problem.

Edmunds Tesla Model 3 [Credit: Edmunds]

Edmunds Tesla Model 3 [Credit: Edmunds]

Edmunds also had some problems with the car's Autopilot system, though they were fixed with an over-the-air update.

So far, the car hasn't required any days out of service, so it hasn't left any Edmunds staff members stranded. (The visit to the service center took just three hours.) Still Edmunds reports that its staff members are growing weary of all the problems in a $56,000 car that's only four months old and has just over 5,000 miles on the odometer.

The organization has scheduled another service visit this month, and plans to keep readers abreast of any more problems that occur.

 
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