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In-depth reviews

Tesla Model 3 - Reliability and safety

The Tesla Model 3 achieves full marks for safety, with strong customer feedback in our Driver Power survey

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Reliability and Safety Rating

4.2 out of 5

Price
£39,990 to £59,990
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The Tesla Model 3 has proven to be mechanically reliable, although some owners have experienced issues with paint and overall build quality, including unacceptably large panel gaps and loose trim. Overall, owners seem pleased with their Model 3s, because the electric saloon managed to finish 22nd in our most recent list of the best cars to own, which is based on the results of the 2023 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. 

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In fact, the Model 3 was the sixth-best electric car on the list, with owners praising the car’s safety systems, low running costs and infotainment system. Meanwhile, Tesla as a brand finished third (out of 32) in our best car manufacturer rankings, beaten only by Polestar and Porsche

Crash safety experts Euro NCAP put the Tesla Model 3 through its paces in 2019 and awarded it the maximum five-star rating, along with very impressive 96 and 84 per cent scores in the adult and child occupant protection categories, respectively.

The Model 3 also received a rating of 94 per cent in the safety assist category. Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot technology did not contribute to this rating, but the system incorporates autonomous emergency braking and sophisticated adaptive cruise control, among other systems. 

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Every Model 3 features a basic version of Autopilot, but buyers can upgrade to either ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ or the misleadingly named ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’. The former allows – provided the driver is paying attention to the road ahead – the car to maintain lane position with steering, acceleration and braking, and it can also change lanes. It has several features yet to be activated, such as auto parking tech and a ‘Summon’ feature, which can drive the car out of a tight space – both of which are features you can utilise right now with an Ultimate trim Hyundai Ioniq 6

The mislabelled Full Self-Driving builds on this by recognising and reacting to traffic lights. However, it still needs the driver to pay attention and be ready to take over, and it doesn’t have the autosteer feature activated for driving on city streets. Until these additional features become available, it isn’t worth spending nearly £7,000 for a suite of assistance systems you can’t use at the moment, especially when these can be added to the car later.   

Warranty

The Model 3 comes with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty. This beats the industry standard three-year warranty, and should provide plenty of cover for those planning to lease a Model 3. However, it can’t match the mileage allowances of other premium manufacturers like BMW. 

The battery pack is covered by a separate warranty of eight years or 120,000 miles.

Servicing

There are no set servicing intervals for the Tesla Model 3, with the car itself alerting the driver as and when a service is required. Over-the-air updates and remote diagnostics help make some smaller maintenance jobs more convenient, as do Tesla’s Mobile Service technicians. 

Fixed-price Tesla Maintenance Plans are available and can be transferred from owner to owner when required.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

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Most Economical

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Fastest

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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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