Tesla Model 3: reliability & safety rating
It may be one of the safest EVs you can buy, but Tesla’s reliability record leaves a lot to be desired
|5 stars (2019)
Electric cars should, in theory, be more reliable than your run-of-the-mill petrol and diesel car. We say ‘in theory’ because Teslas are notoriously unreliable – and the same seems to be true for the Model 3. Still, at least it does come with a four-year warranty and a stunning array of safety kit for peace of mind.
Tesla Model 3 reliability & problems
Some American owners have reported worrying issues with the car accelerating independently when cruise control is active, but otherwise there are no other significant recurring issues with the Model 3.
There’s a lot to like about the Model 3, according to drivers; it was rated the sixth-best electric car to own in our 2023 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Owners praised the Tesla’s suite of safety systems, low running costs and flashy infotainment system. Its simplistic design didn’t win many favours, though, neither did overall build quality which, along with ride comfort, was the Model 3’s lowest-ranking category.
As a brand, Tesla came third in Driver Power's list of the 29 best car manufacturers, which is an impressive showing for a young brand competing with the likes of Ford and Mercedes. However, a first-year fault percentage of 40% was the highest of any carmaker listed; nearly half of respondents have had issues, but that shows owners are prepared to put up with some teething issues, thanks to their love for the brand.
The Tesla Model 3 boasts the maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. The company leads the industry for semi-autonomous driving systems, so it's no surprise that its score of 94% in the Safety Assist category was an all-time record at the time. It's since been surpassed by Tesla's own Model Y SUV which scored 98% in the same category.
All Model 3s come with lane-keeping assistance, parking aids, traffic-sign recognition and a full suite of airbags, but the semi-autonomous mode that will see the car change lanes for you and even leave a slip road off a motorway (and more) is a £6,800 option.
An update rolled out in 2019 added semi-autonomous city driving, including responding automatically to traffic signs. All of these systems are semi-autonomous, not fully autonomous, meaning that the driver must still be actively paying attention and in control. Sadly, there’s no spare wheel – not even a space-saver.
In This Review
- 1VerdictA recent facelift has cemented the Model 3’s position at the top of its class, with the baby Tesla offering everything you could possibly need from an electric family car
- 2Range, battery & chargingNot only does the Tesla Model 3 offer superb range, but full access to the amazing Supercharger network
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Model 3 is generally affordable to buy and run, but it’ll cost an arm and a leg to insure
- 4Performance, motor & driveAside from point and squirt performance, the Model 3 offers little in the way of driver engagement
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe Model 3’s interior does feel pretty plush in places and boasts the latest tech, but ultimately feels a little ‘form over function’
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThough spacious for a small saloon, we wish the Model 3 had a hatchback bootlid – the Model Y is even roomier
- 7Reliability & safety rating - currently readingIt may be one of the safest EVs you can buy, but Tesla’s reliability record leaves a lot to be desired