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In-depth reviews

Tesla Model S review: reliability & safety rating

The Tesla Model S has a relatively clean record for reliability, and once again boasts a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Reliability & safety rating rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£94,070 - £114,070
Fuel Type:
Electric

Euro NCAP

Adult protection

Child protection

Safety assist

5 stars (2022)

94%

91%

98%

The Tesla Model S has secured five out of five stars in its Euro NCAP crash tests twice now: once in 2014, and again in 2022. What’s more, there are no reliability issues known to keep cropping up on the Model S. 

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Tesla’s four-year warranty is a little better than the class average – most rivals limit cover to three years – though we think the 50,000-mile cap is a little stingy. That’s especially true given how adept the maker’s cars are at long distance travel, helped by the fantastic Supercharger network. The battery is guaranteed for eight years, however, and you can do an unlimited number of miles in that time without invalidating it.

Tesla Model S reliability & problems

In 2017, Tesla issued a recall for the Model S and Model X, covering cars built between February and October 2016. This was to fix a potential fault with the electronic parking brake, although the company was keen to stress that at no point were cars unsafe to drive.

As the Model S is an electric car, there are few moving components and therefore few things that can go wrong with it. Tesla also issues periodic over-the-air software updates, which can fix potential problems and also unlock additional performance from the electric motors. In 2016, the Model S achieved the highest ever percentage score in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, finishing fifth overall for reliability. The Model S has been absent from the survey more recently; through the Covid pandemic, the maker paused deliveries and has only just restarted selling left-hand drive cars over here.

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What's concerning is that while Tesla came second in 2022 and third in our 2023 survey, nearly half of those who responded reported issues before the car was a year old.

Safety

The Tesla Model S scored five out of five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test in 2014, rating 82% for adult safety, 77% for child safety, 66% for pedestrian safety, and 71% for its safety assistance systems. The latest versions of the Model S were tested in 2022 and received the full five-star rating again, this time receiving 94% for adult safety, 91% for child safety, 66% for child safety, and 98% for its safety assistance systems.

Collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking systems are included as standard, as are front airbags, ISOFIX child-seat attachments, a seat belt reminder, and much else besides. The Model S is also very sturdy: when its roof was crush-tested in the US, it actually broke the testing machine, having withstood a force four times that of gravity.

While not a safety concern as such, the Model S is now (from May 2023) left-hand drive only. This may not suit some buyers looking to own and drive their car in the UK.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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