5 Reasons You Shouldn't Buy a Tesla

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Key Takeaways

  • Tesla has had multiple recalls, including major ones for Autopilot issues and seat belt detachment, raising concerns about safety.
  • Teslas are known for their steep prices.
  • Waiting times for Tesla models can vary significantly, ranging from just a few weeks to several months, potentially causing delays for those in immediate need of a vehicle.
  • Tesla has faced criticism for poor build quality, with reports of paint dents, misaligned body panels, and other external issues, raising doubts about overall craftsmanship.

While Tesla is one of the most well-known EV brands on the market today, its products aren’t perfect. While many people love their Tesla EVs, there are a number of reasons why you may want to think twice before purchasing your own.

Multiple Recalls

Tesla recalls have affected millions of vehicles. One of the biggest recalls took place in December 2023, when the company recalled two million vehicles due to an Autopilot issue. In this case, the NHTSA concluded that misusing the Tesla Autopilot feature was too easy, meaning an over-the-air (OTA) update had to be issued for the two million cars affected. Just a month prior, 300,000 Teslas were recalled due to a taillight issue.

Luckily, recalls like this don’t inconvenience the driver, as they don’t lose their car. But Tesla is also no stranger to physical recalls. In July 2023, over 16,000 Tesla vehicles needed to be physically recalled due to an issue with the Model S and X’s seat belt anchor design, which posed the risk of seat belt detachment. Given the evident risk to drivers, a recall was announced, wherein affected drivers had to take their cars to a Tesla garage to have the problem remedied. Another physical recall in the same month when it was discovered that the front-facing camera on 2023 Model S, X, and Y vehicles wasn’t aligned properly.

At the end of 2021, issues with the rear camera on 2017-2021 Model 3 cars also led to the recall of over 350,000 vehicles. This huge recall came in conjunction with the recall of an additional 120,000 Model S vehicles due to problems with the front hood’s opening and closing mechanism, which posed the risk of the hood opening mid-drive.

Steep Prices

One thing you’ll notice about Teslas from the get-go is that they aren’t cheap. The lowest-priced Tesla on the market right now, the Model 3, comes in at around $42,000 when new. For a base model, this is fairly pricey.

Are Tesla’s more costly because they’re luxury vehicles? The Model 3 has been considered a “near-luxury” car, meaning it doesn’t quite make the cut for the luxury category, but isn’t considered your basic EV. Others believe that the base-level Model 3 isn’t a luxury car at all, so the matter is certainly up for debate.

There are many EVs out there with similar capabilities to the Model 3 that come in and significantly lower prices, such as the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf.

However, it’s worth noting that the Model 3 isn’t outlandishly expensive, as similar cars like the Kia EV6 and Volkswagen ID.4 start at a similar price. What’s important to remember is that, just because the Model 3 is Tesla’s cheapest model, doesn’t mean that it’s the best you’re going to get.

Long Waiting Lists

While some cars can be bought and driven home on the same day, this isn’t always the case for Teslas. When you buy a new Tesla, you’ll likely have to wait some time before you get your hands on your vehicle. This waiting time varies depending on the model you buy.

According to Tom’s Guide, the late-2023 waiting times for varying Tesla models were as follows:

  • Model Y Long Range: 1-2 weeks
  • Model Y Performance: 1-2 weeks
  • Model X: 6-11 weeks
  • Model X Plaid: 6- 11 weeks
  • Model 3 RWD:1-2 weeks
  • Model 3 Long Range: 1-2 weeks
  • Model 3 Performance: 1-2 weeks
  • Model S: 6-11 weeks
  • Model S Plaid: 6-11 weeks

As you can see, some Tesla models have fairly short waiting times of one or two weeks, but others can take months to arrive. If you’re looking for a car right now, it may be wiser to steer clear of Tesla, but don’t forget that waiting lists aren’t unique to this brand.

Poor Build Quality

One of the biggest points of contention around Teslas is their build quality. Over the years, Tesla has hit news headlines time and time again due to build quality issues. In fact, the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, admitted to former Ford engineer Sandy Munro in 2021 that his criticisms of Tesla’s quality control were “accurate,” despite Musk also stating that production issues have been ironed out over time.

Many Tesla owners and critics have posted their own videos online discussing the issues with Tesla build quality. In 2021, YouTuber Pinnacle Performance recorded himself walking around a Tesla Model S Plaid while pointing out external problems, including dents in the paint, misaligned fenders, tail light scratches, and misaligned body panels.

Another channel, named Vehicle Virgins, uploaded a video in September 2023 discussing issues with the Tesla Model S Plaid. The main topic of this video was issues with the Model S Plaid’s wheel camber, which caused the driver’s wheel to rapidly deflate while the car was in motion. The creator also discussed the rapid price drop of the Model S Plaid by around half its original sale value, leaving drivers with a car worth just half of its initial price.

With Tesla models being recalled multiple times in the past for various hardware installation issues (as previously discussed), it’s natural to question whether the Tesla you’re thinking of buying will also have multiple flaws.

An Abundance of Alternatives

While you may notice that Tesla has a lot of loyal customers and the hype around the brand is significant, don’t let this convince you that this is the best EV brand for your budget and lifestyle. If you have a favorite car brand, it may already have a line of EVs you don’t know about, so be sure to research this before making any commitments.

Below is a list of just a few Tesla alternatives and their prices:

If you want to shop around outside of Tesla’s range, there are plenty of EV-exclusive brands, as well as industry veterans, that offer electric cars, from basic models to luxury vehicles.

While a lot of EV news often revolves around Tesla, that doesn’t mean it’s the only EV brand worth considering if you’re looking to go electric. There’s more than one reason why Tesla may not be right for you, and plenty of alternatives to consider if this is the case.


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