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With Higher Sales Abroad, Tesla's Repairability Concerns Are Crossing the Pond

Reaching more people can be a blessing or a curse. Ask anyone who suddenly became famous, and they will tell you more about that. That can also be seen in the automotive world. When a company achieves higher sales numbers, its issues are amplified in the same proportion. Just check Tesla: its design flaws, quality control problems, and reliability concerns are now widely known. In Europe, the best-selling titles the Model Y is receiving are being followed by the realization that Tesla BEVs are very expensive to repair.
Tesla has a long record of issues – such as water leaks behind the glove box – that are now getting famous in Europe as well 109 photos
Photo: AL via Facebook
Tesla Model S door handles have a design flaw, but the company would only do something about that if it were a manufacturing defectTesla Model S door handles have a design flaw, but the company would only do something about that if it were a manufacturing defectNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterNickolas Catherine had barely driven his Tesla Model 3 when a familiar issue left him stranded: a failed rear motor inverterDana Brems bought her Tesla Model 3 recently and got stranded in the left lane of a freewayDana Brems bought her Tesla Model 3 recently and got stranded in the left lane of a freewayDana Brems bought her Tesla Model 3 recently and got stranded in the left lane of a freewayDana Brems bought her Tesla Model 3 recently and got stranded in the left lane of a freewayDana Brems bought her Tesla Model 3 recently and got stranded in the left lane of a freewayDana Brems bought her Tesla Model 3 recently and got stranded in the left lane of a freewayDana Brems bought her Tesla Model 3 recently and got stranded in the left lane of a freewayDana Brems now knows what happened to her Tesla Model 3: a broken rear drive unitDana Brems now knows what happened to her Tesla Model 3: a broken rear drive unitThomas George Exton was driving from London to Nottingham when his brand-new Tesla Model Y showed this messageWhen his Model Y shut down, the buttons for opening the doors stopped workingExton knew how to use the manual release in the doors, but the window got stuck in the body and crackedWhen the tow truck arrived, the door accidentally closed: Exton broke a piece of the cracked window to open the carThe entrepreneur cut his hand while removing the glassTesla Road Service arrived two hours later: they were the only ones able to deal with the vehicleExton faced a lot of abuse on Twitter from Tesla advocatesExton faced a lot of abuse on Twitter from Tesla advocatesTesla Model Y failure in the UK was blamed on PCS, but that's only the inverterTesla Model Y lost its steering wheel a while after deliveryTesla Model Y lost its steering wheel a while after deliveryTesla Model Y lost its steering wheel a while after deliveryTesla Model Y lost its steering wheel a while after deliveryTesla Model Y lost its steering wheel a while after deliveryTesla Model Y lost its steering wheel a while after deliveryTesla Model Y lost its steering wheel a while after deliveryTesla Model Y With Failed Suspension Knuckle in ChinaTesla Model Y With Failed Suspension Knuckle in ChinaBroken Tesla SuspensionBroken Tesla SuspensionReddit User Shares Tesla Email With Recall InformationReddit User Shares Tesla Email With Recall InformationReddit User Shares Tesla Email With Recall InformationBroken Tesla SuspensionBroken Tesla SuspensionTesla Model Y Will Have Recall to Replace Defective Suspension KnucklesTesla eMMC Inside the MCUTesla eMMC Inside the MCUTesla eMMC Inside the MCUTesla eMMC Inside the MCUTesla eMMC Inside the MCUInside brake pad on the right rear wheel of April Gillmore's Tesla Model 3 PerformanceInside brake pad on the right rear wheel of April Gillmore's Tesla Model 3 PerformanceTesla Model 3 Performance bought by April Gillmore had no inside brake pad on rear left wheelTesla Model 3 Performance bought by April Gillmore had no inside brake pad on rear left wheelText messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Text messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Text messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Text messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Text messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Tesla Model Y made in China also presents paint issues. And it is not the only one.Tesla Model Y made in China also presents paint issues. And it is not the only one.Tesla Model Y made in China also presents paint issues. And it is not the only one.Tesla Model Y made in China also presents paint issues. And it is not the only one.Tesla Model Y made in China also presents paint issues. And it is not the only one.Signs of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barTesla Model S presents rust problems with its front bumper reinforcement barTesla Model S presents rust problems with its front bumper reinforcement barTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model Y with serious quality issuesTesla Model 3 shattered glassTesla Model 3 shattered glassTesla Model 3 shattered glassTesla Model 3 shattered glassTesla Model 3 shattered glassWater ingress happens in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y through the air vents under the glove boxWater ingress happens in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y through the air vents under the glove boxWater ingress happens in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y through the air vents under the glove boxWater ingress happens in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y through the air vents under the glove boxWater ingress happens in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y through the air vents under the glove boxTwo missing bolts are the possible cause of this door trim detachmentFront collision broke this appendix on the front structure casting in a Model YFront collision broke an appendix located here on the front structure casting in a Model YThis is what the appendix where the wing that supports the front fender is supposed to look like
The French magazine L'Automobile decided to investigate the situation after complaints about the American BEV maker increased as much as its sales. The most common protests relate to excessive delivery delays for spare parts, high repair rates, and warranty denials, among other issues.

A taxi driver identified only as Afid said that the Model S he has driven since 2020 had a problem with its battery pack. Although it was still under warranty, he had to hire a lawyer to make sure the company would replace it. Afid also said that there are about 40 Teslas working as taxi cabs in his region and that there is only one approved shop per city, which is clearly insufficient. A taxi cab waiting for repairs is a vehicle that is not helping its owner pay the bills. Tesla would not even allow the taxi drivers to buy light bulbs and replace them themselves just to charge for the service.

According to Afid – who must have preferred to remain anonymous – the Tesla vehicles in his region all face several problems and bugs. He probably refers to the myriad of defects other customers already shared about their BEVs, such as door handles that stop working, motors that fail, inverters that leave drivers stranded, suspension components that break, and a long etcetera. Unfortunately, the taxi driver did not elaborate on them.

Tesla Model S door handles have a design flaw, but the company would only do something about that if it were a manufacturing defect
Photo: Morten Haagensen/Creative Commons
In 2020, Cesvimap performed a crash test with a Model 3 at only 16 kph (10 mph) and discovered it cost €8,501.42 ($9,251.25 at the current exchange rate), without taxes, to fix the vehicle, one of the highest repair prices for such a low-speed crash. Although the front of the BEV was not badly damaged, the two frontal airbags and curtain airbags were deployed, which made the repair costly. The Dacia Spring and the Opel Corsa-e were tested under the same circumstances, and none of their airbags went off. Cesvimap did not disclose how much the Spring would demand to be fixed, but a Corsa-e owner would spend €4,017.12 ($4,371.43), mostly due to the LED headlights.

The Sécurité Réparation Automobile (SRA, something like Safety Automotive Repair) is a French organization that measures repair costs for insurance companies. According to it, Tesla parts cost 56% more than those of similar vehicles. The BEV maker's cars are among the most expensive to repair in France, second only to Porsche.

In its investigation, L'Automobile came to similar conclusions to those that customers on the other side of the pond already pointed out. Tesla is not exactly interested in allowing independent shops to take care of its cars, something that has raised fierce disputes around the right to repair. The BEV maker has opposed it more than once without being able to give customers a trustworthy repair network. Even if it did not fail that mission, some buyers could prefer to take their vehicles to technicians they trust, who would need technical information to properly fix these cars. Several shops accuse Tesla of withholding such instructions to restrict its customers to the crowded and insufficient Tesla Service Centers.

Dana Brems now knows what happened to her Tesla Model 3\: a broken rear drive unit
Photo: Dana Brems/edited by autoevolution
In a surprising move, L'Automobile managed to talk to Tesla. The company said the accusations are not true and that it only recommends repairs in Tesla Service Centers or authorized shops to ensure a high-quality repair. It also said it expects to have 60% more of these shops by the end of 2023 compared to 2022 in France. Considering the complaints have only improved this year, it seems this expansion did not make that much difference.

The French magazine talked about these arguments with authorized shops, and some of them explained why both Tesla and those complaining about the company may be correct. According to these shops, the issue is that Tesla does not give much information in its technical repair instructions. On top of that, its vehicles are highly complex to fix.

That only confirms something insurance companies and anyone paying attention to the BEV maker could say: Tesla does not care about repairability and did not conceive its vehicles with that in mind. Its electric cars need specific tools and procedures to be fixed that no other carmaker uses. That pushes shops interested in working with these BEVs to make higher investments in these tools, which also increases repair prices.

At this point, it is inevitable that more people will learn about Tesla's hurdles. Although BEV demand has dropped, Tesla is increasing production and pushing cars out of assembly lines as much as possible with the help of massive discounts. That worsened depreciation and multiplied Tesla's audience beyond the legion of dedicated and forgiving fans that catapulted it to notoriety. While the BEV maker does not improve its game, its advocates will not manage to silence the predictable disappointment of those who expected Tesla to do better.

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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
Gustavo Henrique Ruffo profile photo

Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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