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In-depth reviews

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

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Reliability & safety rating rating

3.5 out of 5

Price
£39,990 - £59,990
Fuel Type:
Electric
Euro NCAPAdult protectionChild protectionSafety assist
5 stars (2019)96%86%94%

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. 

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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.

Safety

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.

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Hello there, I’m Tom Jervis and I have the pleasure of being the Content Editor here at DrivingElectric. Before joining the team in 2023, I spent my time reviewing cars and offering car buying tips and advice on DrivingElectric’s sister site, Carbuyer. I also continue to occasionally contribute to the AutoExpress magazine – another of DrivingElectric’s partner brands. In a past life, I worked for the BBC as a journalist and broadcast assistant for regional services in the east of England – constantly trying to find stories that related to cars!

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