15 Things Tesla Drivers Love to Complain About

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Teslas may be the most popular electric vehicles, but the cars do have some drawbacks.
Updated April 11, 2024
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man is driving a Tesla car

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Teslas may be all the rage when it comes to electric vehicles, but they’re not always the perfect alternative to gas guzzlers.

In fact, even Tesla owners complain about things they wish were better about their vehicles. Some issues are expensive, too, like owners needing to make extra money just to enjoy premium features.

So, if you think you want a Tesla, here are some issues you may not have considered that current drivers are frustrated with.

Premium services cost extra

Liubomir/Adobe nervous and unsatisfied man with phone looking at camera

You may think the high price tag on a car like a Tesla means it automatically includes streaming services or traffic updates.

But Tesla charges extra for those features despite outfitting its cars with big screens that are perfect for them. So factor that in when considering the monthly costs of owning a Tesla.

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Self-driving mode isn't standard

Tierney/Adobe man driving a Tesla Model 3 on autopilot

One of the biggest features Tesla talks about as a selling point is its self-driving mode, which allows you to travel hands-free while the car drives for you.

But the self-driving mode isn’t a standard feature, so remember to ask about how much it will cost to activate self-driving and factor that into the total cost of the vehicle before you buy one.

Quality control issues

bnenin/Adobe serious business conversation

Telsa has become notorious among owners for having quality control issues with the vehicles.

Owners complain of leaks, body panels that don’t line up, touchscreen issues, and paint problems. Some owners even have issues with the quality of the cars' windshield wipers.

All of these issues can add up and be a nuisance to fix when you've already spent so much on a vehicle.

Service delays

fabioderby/Adobe Closeup of Tesla engine

Tesla doesn’t have many service centers in the U.S. and has to certify other car repair centers to work on Tesla drivers' vehicles.

The lack of service centers is causing some owners to face long delays in order to get their cars fixed.

The EV company is also having issues with parts supplies. A fender bender or a simple repair can take longer to get fixed for Tesla owners than others, which could cause additional issues.

Confusing steering wheels

ako-photography/Adobe steering wheel

Some of Tesla’s newer models come with a yoke steering wheel, which may look cool and futuristic but can also cause issues when driving.

Some drivers have complained that the horn isn’t in the right place, the buttons don’t work, it doesn’t respond to turns properly, and it can cause accidents.

A regular steering wheel might not be the solution, either. Telsa is currently under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board for reports of regular steering wheels falling off Telsla Model Ys while they were moving.

Random braking issues

didesign/Adobe stressful situation during car driving

There have been public stories lately about Teslas having random braking issues that have caused accidents.

Phantom braking issues can cause vehicles to stop without warning. One incident may have even led to an eight-car accident on the San Francisco Bay Bridge last year.

Limited charging locations

Aleksei Potov/aDOBE Tesla model x electric car

Tesla has more than 40,000 superchargers in the U.S., making it the largest fast-charging network in the world, according to the company. But it’s not always easy to find a charger. 

For example, Alaska has only one supercharging Tesla station in the entire state. And both North Dakota and South Dakota only have charging stations along major highways.

Not enough charging stations per location

sheilaf2002/Adobe cars standing in charging stations at kettleman city

Tesla had a major problem on its hands during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2019. Long lines developed at California charging locations as owners tried to charge up after spending time away for the holiday.

The issue could come up again as more cars are sold, especially if charging locations can't keep up.

Temperamental batteries

Antonio/Adobe red Tesla car in residential area

You may be surprised that the batteries on your Tesla may not work the same way as other batteries.

Teslas operate ideally with between 20% and 80% of a battery charge, so you can’t expect it to run well at 5% the way you can when your gas-powered vehicle’s tank is almost empty.

The batteries also don’t run well in very cold or very hot environments, so you’ll need to take outside temperature into account, especially in the winter.

Costly roadside assistance

rh2010/Adobe road assistance worker in uniform changing car wheel

Tesla has its own roadside assistance that can help you with a number of things, like flat tires or getting locked out of your vehicle.

Tesla can also send a tow truck to pick you up and tow your car to the closest charging location if there is an issue with your car that caused it to lose charge.

However, if you’re the one who didn’t charge your Tesla and ran the battery down, you’ll have to pay for that tow.

Sentry Mode sucks up energy

VadimGuzhva/Adobe girl talks the phone on tesla car charge station

Sentry Mode is a great option for your Tesla if you’re trying to keep it protected while it’s parked. Your vehicle’s sensors and cameras stay on and will record if something suspicious happens to your Tesla.

But Sentry Mode also takes quite a bit of battery to operate and could deplete your vehicle’s power while it’s sitting there. That could cause you issues when you’re ready to drive again.

Too few dealerships

Kirk Fisher/Adobe Tesla Automobile Sales and Service Center at sunset

Did you ever think there would be a time when you would lament the fact that you can’t go to a dealership to buy a car?

Tesla has pretty much ditched the dealership model compared to other car companies, so you probably can’t just go into a Tesla showroom and order a vehicle.

That also means Tesla stores might not have a vehicle for you to test drive, and you won’t get benefits that you would get using a dealer’s service center, like discounted maintenance and repairs.

Batteries are expensive to replace

VisualArtStudio/Adobe Tesla control panel screen

One of the great things about driving an electric vehicle is you can rely on batteries instead of using gas, but Tesla’s batteries are expensive for owners to replace.

For example, a simple accident can cause batteries to lose their ability to charge fully and need regular replacement, which can cost a lot of extra money.

Failing door handles

myndziakvideo/Adobe man opens the door of Tesla Model S

Tesla’s door handles look futuristic and blend into the side of the car, but they can also cause issues like freezing to the door in cold weather, causing drivers to be frozen out of their cars.

And there have also been issues with passengers getting stuck in their vehicles during emergencies due to issues with the car's indoor handles.

Tesla’s CEO isn’t focused on Tesla

kavi surya/Adobe Elon Musk's own companies logos on smartphone

Elon Musk is the well-known co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla. He’s also been in the news quite a bit recently for his takeover of Twitter.

But his work outside of Tesla is worrying owners and investors. Most notably, the company’s stock has been lower since Musk acquired Twitter.

Sales in the fourth quarter of 2022 were also below expectations as Tesla struggled while its CEO was distracted with other ventures.

Bottom line

Ivan Traimak/Adobe man sits inside a car thinking about buying on credit

Like any car, a Tesla can be a big investment, and you don’t want to feel like you’re wasting money on a vehicle. It’s a good idea to weigh all your options before you buy one to make sure you can afford it.

And remember that other car companies are coming out with their own electric vehicles, so you might be better off keeping money in your bank account and waiting for the right car down the road.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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