2020 Tesla Model X Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Suspension, forward collision avoidance, and electrical system issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Premium-focused drivers want an electric SUV that outperforms the other options on the road, which is why so many are happy to spend more for the 2020 Tesla Model X. The automaker claims that this luxury model is “designed for efficiency.” Maybe it was, but owners who experience rapid battery drain and sudden loss of control due to electrical malfunctions don’t agree. Others are unhappy because their SUVs creak, shudder, and vibrate, or malfunction because of forward collision avoidance or other major problems.  

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Problems Summary

Complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) indicate a plethora of problems with the 2020 Tesla Model X. Components and systems that have attracted the most complaints are suspension, forward collision avoidance, and the electrical system. There are a large number of complaints listed as brake problems, but many of these are linked to automatic emergency braking malfunctions that are commonly listed as forward collision avoidance issues. Similarly, the volume of complaints linked to steering is commonly also listed as being suspension issues.

Other components and systems that feature in the long list of consumer complaints to the NHTS are backover prevention, electronic stability control, the engine, exterior lighting, lane departure, the powertrain, seats, structure, tires, vehicle speed control, visibility/wiper, and wheels.

The third of four Tesla products, the prototype of the Model X was unveiled in 2012, and the first Model X in 2015. And right from the start, the SUV has had major problems, with every model year subject to recalls and investigations.

In addition to complaints — which aren’t limited to the NHTSA — the 2020 Model X is subject to nine recalls and six NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) investigations.

2020 Tesla Model X Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Unknown Or Other
Vehicle Speed Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Service Brakes
Power Train


While there are a total of nine recalls, seven of these relate to the electrical system, four to forward collision avoidance, and two to steering — clearly with some relating to more than one component. While they are all serious, some are more serious than others. Here are some examples.

Listed as electrical system problems:

  • 53,822 Tesla vehicles, including the 2020 Model X, may fail to stop at a stop sign increasing the risk of a crash. This is because the “rolling stop” functionality available as part of the full self-driving (Beta) software may let it keep going.
  • 362,758 Tesla vehicles are at risk of the full self-driving software allowing them to exceed speed limits or travel through intersections unlawfully or unpredictably. This also increases the risk of the vehicles crashing.
  • 2,031,220 Tesla vehicles have autopilot controls that are not sufficient to prevent misuse. If Autosteer is engaged and the driver doesn’t stay in control or intervene when the system fails, there is an increased risk of a crash.

Listed as a forward collision avoidance issue, 11,728 Tesla vehicles may experience an unexpected activation of the automatic emergency brake (AEB) system. This can cause the car to stop suddenly, which increases the risk of a crash.

One of the steering recalls affects 40,168 Model X and Model S Tesla vehicles. More specifically, a loss of power steering assist can require greater steering effort, especially at low speeds. This also increases the risk of a crash.

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Investigations that include the 2020 Tesla Model X are varied. Three relate to the electrical system, two to the autopilot and first responder scenes, one of which was still open in April 2024. One relates to vehicle speed control and sudden unintended acceleration. This one is also still open.

There is also an open investigation into a shift interlock request. This “requires a brake application by the driver in order to shift from Drive to Reverse to reduce the number of sudden unintended acceleration events.”

The sixth investigation relates to Tesla Passenger Play. Even though the investigation has been closed, the NHTSA ODI makes it clear that this doesn’t mean that a safety-related defect doesn’t exist. The Agency reserves the right to reopen the investigation if it needs to.

Suspension Problems

The suspension of a vehicle is necessary for a smooth ride. Yet, the Model X has a multitude of suspension-related problems including creaking, squeaking, and clunking sounds, especially when turning or going over bumps. Multiple reports highlight failing control arms and half shafts, leading to vibrations, shuddering, and difficulty steering. It is interesting to note that while steering complaints amount to 50% of the volume of suspension problems, nearly 62% of these are identified as being suspension and steering problems.

Some owners have been faced with sudden component failure including a broken strut tower that can cause a loss of vehicle control. Additionally, many complaints state that Tesla cannot or will not repair faulty vehicles.

Shuddering, Vibrations, and Squeaking Noises

An owner from Nevada describes the vibration issue succinctly. “Tesla Model X is infamous for its acceleration shudder. They have replaced the drive shafts twice already. When you accelerate the wheel vibrates only between 15-35 mph. When you brake hard it does the same thing.”

“My Model X vibrates at low speeds. I took it to (the) service center multiple times. They couldn’t fix the issue,” says an owner from California. It looks like the suspension issue as it makes noise when the car goes up or down using air suspension.”

Describing the well-known Tesla suspension system squeaking problems, an owner from Colorado says “Tesla wouldn’t do anything about it.” Having taken the SUV into Tesla at least six times in two years, the owner says, “Tesla is well aware of the issue but couldn’t find a solution. When scheduled for service through the Tesla app, it even has an option for squeaking/noise.”

An owner from Tennessee experienced the passenger-side suspension creaking. The “fore and aft links (were) replaced as well as upper control arms.” The Model X continues to make noises but the service center states they cannot duplicate the problem.

An owner from Florida states that Tesla simply refuses to repair vehicles despite knowing there are problems. “Upon accelerating the front end bounces and vibrates unsafely. Tesla is aware of the faulty dangerous design, yet they continue to sell their Model X without disclosing (the problem) to purchasers. Additionally, they refuse to repair the vehicle, indicating that new front half axles will only temporarily solve the issue. The bounce happens when starting from a complete stop or often when accelerating from one speed to another. The bounce has been happening since April but repeated repair requests to Tesla have been refused.”

Suspension Failure

An owner from North Carolina describes what happened after hitting a rough patch of road with potholes. “There was a loud bang, we felt the front of the car drop and felt an immediate change in steering/stability. We could hear loud scraping/grinding noises, and we pulled to the shoulder as quickly as we could. At first, we suspected a flat tire. However, the tires were all fine. We could hear air hissing coming from under the car when the ignition was on.” The vehicle was towed to a Tesla service center and they found out “that the front driver-side suspension had failed and broke through the surrounding strut tower. The vehicle was deemed a total loss and was sold at a salvage auction.”

Another complaint states that the suspension of his 2020 Tesla Model with 55,000 miles failed completely and had to be replaced. “The control arms for the front left and right side have failed as well. My car has been in the shop multiple times in the last 6-8 months. Fortunately, I have an extended warranty on the vehicle. But still have to pay a $200 deductible. These parts are being replaced several times.”

Forward Collision-Avoidance Issues

There are two main forward collision avoidance issues with the 2020 Tesla Model X.

  1. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) malfunctions: Many complaints describe the car braking unexpectedly and often forcefully for no apparent reason. This is commonly described as phantom braking. It can happen with Autopilot, cruise control, or even when these features are off.
  2. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) malfunctions: Many other complaints mention issues with the cruise control system, including unintended acceleration, sudden changes in speed, and complete disengagement.

AEB Malfunctions

A New Jersey owner is one of many to have experienced phantom braking. “When using any driver assistance function (autopilot, adaptive cruise control, or autopilot with navigation), phantom breaking is common and terrifying. I am scared to use the systems now because of how unpredictable phantom breaking can be and how jarring (and unsafe it could be) when it happens.”

Another owner states that the brakes often lock up for no reason. “It is a hazard to operate the vehicle since it will randomly slam in the brakes while driving down the road or reversing out of a parking space.”

As with suspension issues, owners say that Tesla is not helpful. This complaint tells how the Tesla repeatedly brakes harshly when traveling between 30 and 55 mph while using adaptive cruise control. “There is never anything in the road or a car anywhere nearby to warrant dramatic braking.” Deceleration is harsh and almost caused a rear-end accident twice. “I have repeatedly told Tesla about this and mostly gotten a nebulous response about ‘hardware’ or ‘software’ issues and that they are working on it. This is dangerous and hurts when it unexpectedly happens!”

ACC Malfunctions

An owner from New York is one of many who experienced sudden acceleration. While attempting to park the UV, “my feet slightly touched the brake. At that point, the car suddenly accelerated and jumped forward without any control and hit a car that was coming out of McDonald’s driveway. That car was about 15/20 feet away from my car and I hit the driver’s side. My car was at such speed that it pushed the other car 6 feet on the other side which in turn hit a pedestrian crossing the road. I am 100% sure that I did not press the accelerator and the car moved by itself.”

An owner from Florida also crashed when the Model X suddenly accelerated. This happened while the brake was on and the vehicle was idling in Drive. “My car accelerated by itself forcefully into the vehicle in front. My seat belt did not lock up, airbags did not deploy, (and the) emergency brakes didn’t work.” The complaint reports one injury.

A complaint categorized as a brake, electrical system, and unknown or other problem tells how when pulling out of a Starbucks drive-through “the car accelerated quickly on its own. The brakes also failed. The vehicle only stopped after hitting a tree and a light pole.” Tesla’s reported lack of concern came to the fore yet again. “The brakes also failed. The vehicle only stopped after hitting a tree and a light pole.”

Electrical System Problems

There are a variety of electrical system problems that owners have been highlighting in NHTSA complaints. The main ones are:

  1. Sudden Loss of Control: Several complaints describe a complete or partial loss of control due to electrical malfunctions. This includes issues like failing to slow down with Autopilot engaged, sudden stops due to software freezes, and inoperable brakes.
  2. Infotainment and Screen Issues: Many complaints mention problems with the central touchscreen and driver display, including complete blackouts, reboots, and software freezes. These issues can affect essential features like navigation, speed readings, and backup cameras.
  3. Battery and Charging Problems: A few complaints mention issues with the battery and charging system, including rapid battery drain, and malfunctioning home charging stations causing electrical damage.

Examples of Complaints

An owner from Nevada was driving at 79 mph on Autopilot when he lost control of essential features like park assist, steering assist, and automatic emergency braking. The car wouldn’t go into Park mode and he had to use the Tow mode to finally stop. This is a major safety concern, especially since it happened twice with different vehicles. Worse still, he was forced to pay $5,300 to fix the problem.

An owner from North Carolina experienced a complete infotainment screen blackout while driving on the interstate at night. The complaint states that the entire computer system froze. The navigation screen wouldn’t respond, and then everything went dark, including the driver’s display and even the signal lights. “This was terrifying and dangerous and I and others could easily have gotten hurt.”

An owner in Hawaii experienced recurring infotainment system reboots. “While starting the vehicle, the driver screen and the center console screen went dark.” This resulted in the driver having no access to the electrical features in the vehicle. When the system failed, the electrical functions and safety features were inoperable. The local dealer sent a mechanic to the residence to reformat the software, however the failure persisted.

An owner from Arizona had battery drain and electrical issues. After plugging the SUV into the home charging station, the driver received an alert that there was “no charging power.” Upon inspection, the electrical cables had malfunctioned, causing burning and damage to the home’s wiring as well. The cause of the failure had not been determined at the time of the complaint.

What To Do If You Have a Lemon

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Tesla pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Jessie H

    My 2020 X has a bad vibration in front wheel motors upon excelleration, plus issue with fan when running AC.
    we have an appointment on Wed. Hope they can fix it, we paid a ton of money for the car

  • Hernando

    I have a Tesla Model X with the vibrating issue and Tesla keeps taking the car for repairs almost every month for the last 14 months but no fix is done, after 30000 miles driven the car still vibrates shakes. No fix.

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