Best & Worst Tesla Model 3 Years

I've ranked each Tesla Model 3 model year so you can avoid picking the worst Tesla Model 3 year and go for the best Tesla Model 3 year!

In this guide, I’ll break down all Tesla Model 3 model years, highlighting the best Tesla Model 3 years to buy and the worst Model 3 years to avoid.

Our analysis draws on authoritative sources such as the NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and Kelley Blue Book, ensuring our insights are grounded in dependable data and industry expertise.

Specifically, I’ll delve into the Tesla Model 3’s performance, reliability, technological advancements, common issues, recalls, and resale values that have defined the Model 3’s reputation over the years.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Tesla Model 3 Generations

The Tesla Model 3, introduced in 2017, marked a significant milestone in the electric vehicle industry.

As Tesla’s first foray into the mass market, the Model 3 combined performance, safety, and affordability in a package that appealed to a broad audience.

Featuring advanced autopilot capabilities, a minimalist interior design centered around a large touchscreen display, and impressive range and acceleration, the Model 3 quickly became one of the best-selling electric cars worldwide.

Here is an overview of the Tesla Model 3 generations:

1st generation2017-Present

This listing aims to provide a clear perspective on the evolution of the Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When evaluating the best and worst years of the Tesla Model 3, our analysis is comprehensive, factoring in:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

This graph amalgamates all the ratings from the mentioned sources, offering a clear view of the Tesla Model 3’s journey since its launch.

Tesla Model 3 Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Following this, we’ve categorized each model year of the Tesla Model 3 into best, neutral, and worst years based on an exhaustive examination of the data.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation2023

The “Neutral Years” represent a balanced option for buyers, offering Tesla’s innovative electric vehicle technology with decent reliability and owner satisfaction.

Some factors, such as NHTSA recalls, have a negative impact on our rankings. The higher the number of complaints and recalls, the more it suggests potential reliability issues.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst years for the Tesla Model 3.

Best & Worst Years for Tesla Model 3 1st Generation (2017-Present)

Tesla Model 3 1st generation 2017 model
The 2017 Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3, unveiled in 2017, represents Tesla’s ambitious foray into mass-market electric vehicles, aiming to blend performance, affordability, and cutting-edge technology.

As Tesla’s most accessible model, it quickly garnered attention for its sleek design, impressive range, and advanced driver-assistance features.

The Best Years: 2023, 2024

Which year Model 3 is the best?

The 2023 and 2024 Tesla Model 3 years are the best and most reliable model years of Tesla’s engineering and innovation for this generation.

Tesla released the refreshed version of the Tesla Model 3, also known as the highly anticipated “Tesla Model 3 Highland” model.

These models come with advanced powertrain options, including an improved long-range battery that offers up to 358 miles of range on a single charge and supports fast charging capabilities, significantly reducing downtime during long trips.

Power output across these variants is impressive, with the Performance model boasting upwards of 450 hp, enabling a 0-60 mph acceleration time of just 3.1 seconds.

The introduction of the latest Autopilot hardware and Full Self-Driving (FSD) software in these years has significantly enhanced the vehicle’s autonomous driving capabilities, making it one of the most advanced on the market.

Additionally, these years saw the roll-out of new trim levels, each equipped with premium interior features, including a custom audio system, heated seats for all passengers, and a minimalist interior dominated by a 15-inch touchscreen that controls most of the car’s functions.

Despite these advancements, it’s important to note that, like any vehicle, some owners have reported minor software glitches and hardware issues, though these have been promptly addressed by Tesla through over-the-air updates and improved manufacturing processes.

The Neutral Years: 2022, 2017

The 2022 and 2017 Tesla Model 3 years are categorized as neutral, offering a mix of pioneering spirit and the growing pains typical of a novel vehicle line.

The 2022 model introduced several incremental improvements over its predecessors, particularly in battery efficiency and software functionality.

This year’s Model 3 offered a respectable range of up to 358 miles on the Long Range variant and maintained robust performance metrics, with the dual-motor setups delivering both all-wheel drive stability and spirited driving dynamics.

However, the 2022 year was not without its issues, including notable recalls for display malfunctions due to CPU overheating, which affected the vehicle’s infotainment system and, by extension, its navigation and climate control functionalities.

The inaugural 2017 model, despite its historical significance for Tesla, was marred by recalls related to safety features like the autopilot and rearview camera systems.

The Worst Years: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

The Tesla Model 3 years to avoid, 2018 through 2021, experienced various issues that make them less reliable than others.

During this period, Tesla quickly scaled up production to meet the high demand for the Model 3, leading to various quality control issues.

Electrical system problems were prevalent, including failures of the power conversion system that could impact vehicle performance and safety.

The forward collision avoidance system and suspension components like front lower control arms also saw frequent complaints, leading to a less reliable driving experience.

Additionally, these models were affected by significant software-related issues, such as autopilot failures and the infamous “phantom braking,” where the vehicle would unexpectedly apply brakes without apparent reason.

Recalls during these years addressed critical safety concerns, including inoperative rearview cameras and unintended emergency braking, highlighting the teething problems Tesla faced with the Model 3.

See NHTSA 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Tesla Model 3 recalls and complaints.

Tesla Model 3 Resale Values

The following graph explores the Tesla Model 3’s average resale values over time.

Tesla Model 3 Average List Price


What years are the best for the Tesla Model 3?

Clearly, the 2023 and 2024 Tesla Model 3 models stand out as the best and most reliable years to consider, while prospective Tesla Model 3 buyers might want to avoid the 2018 to 2021 models due to their reported issues and recalls.

Have you experienced any of the problems mentioned with these Model 3 years?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.