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In-depth reviews

Tesla Model 3 review - Reliability & safety

There could be some quality issues, but the Model 3 feels like the best-built and safest Tesla yet

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

1.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Reliability & safety Rating

4.0 out of 5

​Although electric models should, in theory, be simpler than petrol, diesel and hybrid cars because there are far fewer mechanical parts, the Tesla Model 3 doesn’t seem to perform well in terms of reliability. Tesla has been known for quality issues around fit and finish, although there are promising signs of improvement. The Model 3 is rated highly for its overall ownership experience despite these issues, however.

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A shockingly high 40% of Tesla Model 3 owners experienced a problem with their car in the first year of ownership, according to the 2023 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, although this is 4% less than the year before, and it will be interesting to see if the facelifted car brings an even greater improvement. In the media, this is often attributed to Tesla's relative inexperience in mass-producing cars compared with manufacturers such as Mercedes, but Tesla is also keen to show it offers great customer service by rectifying issues quickly under warranty.

The Tesla Model 3 finished 22nd out of the top 75 cars in the 2023 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. The brand itself came in second overall in this year’s poll, again despite a poor reliability figure. This bodes very well for the ownership experience overall, but make sure to take advantage of Tesla’s warranty and customer service if an issue does occur.

Safety

Euro NCAP crash-tested the Model 3 in 2019, and it scored a higher figure than any car before it in the safety assist category, with an impressive 94%. Its overall five-star score includes excellent ratings for adult and child occupant protection, and it scored well in the vulnerable road user category. The Tesla Model 3 is one of the safest cars on sale, and the manufacturer claims the Model 3 is particularly safe thanks to its compact electric powertrain, which allows for large crumple zones and a rigid passenger compartment.

Thanks to its semi-autonomous Autopilot technology, the Model 3 is also covered in myriad sensors and cameras that can help protect occupants by alerting them to danger and even braking or steering around obstacles by itself.

​Servicing

There's a Tesla Maintenance Plan for owners that ensures the car is checked, interior air filters are replaced and brake fluid is tested and replaced when necessary. However, maintenance should be less than for a conventional petrol or diesel model, and Tesla even states that the warranty remains even if servicing isn't carried out.

Warranty

Every Tesla comes with a reassuring four-year warranty, although its 50,000-mile cap is slightly lower than the industry standard. However, this is mostly offset by separate eight-year/100,000-mile coverage (120,000 miles for Long Range models) for the electric motors and battery pack.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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