Tesla Model 3 loses Consumer Reports recommendation over 'declining reliability'

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Inversely to the mounding problems experienced by Model 3 owners, Tesla still tops CR's charts for highest overall owner satisfaction. However, the automaker's efforts may be in vain. The dropped recommendation follows two Model 3 price cuts this year to partially offset lower federal tax incentives.

One specific issue described by Consumer Reports claims the touchscreen interface would act as if it was being touched at multiple points all at once, causing a storm of random functions to activate and deactivate. As a result, it said it could no longer recommend the vehicle that's become Tesla's flagship.

"All three Tesla models have below-average reliability, and we don't recommend any of them", said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at the magazine published by the nonprofit group Consumers Union.

The consumer outfit said that Tesla buyers are more likely to be satisfied with their auto than customers of any other brand... but "many customers reported problems with the Model 3, including loose body trim and glass defects".

"In most cases, reliability issues will undermine satisfaction", Fisher pointed out.

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The Model S lost Consumer Reports' recommendation in October 2018 over suspension problems, and the Model X never received one in the first place. "The vast majority of these issues have already been corrected through design and manufacturing improvements, and we are already seeing a significant improvement in our field data".

Its findings led it to drop its ranking for Tesla to 19 from 8.

Interestingly, Toyota made Consumer Reports' list of the best new vehicles of 2019. In a statement to Reuters, Tesla noted that the earlier-than-expected deliveries "marked a significant milestone for the market", particularly as the company has been rather conservative about its timeframes for the Model 3's push into China. That kind of love-hate relationship isn't uncommon for iconic vehicles with persistent quality issues, such as the Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Corvette, he said. Problems with the in-car electric systems, paint and trim, as well as body hardware were most commonly reported, says CR. The latest survey data also shows complaints about paint and trim issues. Tesla's stock dipped after Consumer Reports pulled its recommendation for the Tesla Model 3.

Tesla stock has had a rough week.

"It's quite possibly going to get bought out for that valuation because it represents what that is."