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

Exterior lighting, suspension, vehicle speed control and structure issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

In the rise of electric vehicles, the 2020 Tesla Model Y continues to be a highly-coveted model. The automaker claims that it has “a place for everything,” but do owners want to put anything that matters to them inside a defective vehicle? It turns out this EV struggles with the exterior lighting, suspension, vehicle speed control and structure, but the list could go on.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2021   2022   2023

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2020 Tesla Model Y

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

Problems with the Exterior Lighting

It doesn’t matter which vehicle is being driven; it’s important to see clearly at night. Yet, the Model Y can’t even seem to get the placement of the lights in order.

One Edmunds user wrote, “Headlights and taillights assemblies and some body panels are not well aligned; there are some loose plastic panels in the trunk area and rubber gaskets around the doors.”

It turns out Tesla was forced to issue a recall because of lighting concerns. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V609000 talks about defective trailer brake lights that don’t illuminate properly, leaving occupants in danger. Maybe it’s that Tesla really didn’t want people to see this car on the road because of shame, but it’s not a vehicle worth putting anyone’s family inside of.

Suspension Issues

One would expect that a car costing as much as the Model Y does would have a smooth ride, but that’s not the case either.

Here’s another Edmunds review. “My 2021 (apparently) Model Y has awful ride quality, one of the worst cars in terms of ride I’ve ever had. In the NYC area with the bad roads the ride is truly horrendous. Every bone in your body will know the slightest bump or imperfection on the road. I’m now driving with 5 psi less tire pressure than recommended to offset the bumpy ride, but its still pretty bad. Steering is vague and a total let down at high speeds, it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence at high speeds which this car will get to fairly quickly.”

Again, Tesla Model Y vehicles are the subject of another recall. NHTSA Campaign number 20V709000 states that the bolts connecting the front upper control arm and steering knuckle were not properly tightened at the factory. Because of this defect, the control arm bolts can come off and affect the wheels. As the wheels lean in or out unnaturally, steering is affected and drivers face a higher crash risk. By the time this recall came around, owners might have been wishing that the car would steer out of control so they could collect the insurance money on it.

Vehicle Speed Control Problems

If the Model Y wasn’t already dangerous enough, there’s trouble with the vehicle acceleration and speed control.

An Edmunds review says, “Our brand new Model Y accelerated without prompting and drove itself into the back of our garage damaging the car and knocking the wall off of the garage foundation. The car has less than 450 miles on it. We had the car towed to the Tesla service center where it sat for 3 weeks until the Tesla unintended acceleration team evaluated it. Of course Tesla denies any problem with the car and will not release the event data recording. They did tell us we could recover the data ourselves if we bought a $2000 set up from Tesla. We also own a Tesla Model 3 and are very familiar with the Tesla platform so driving an electric car is not new to us. We have reported the problem to the National Traffic Safety Administration and hired a law firm to represent us in arbitration with Tesla. None of this would have been necessary if Tesla would just admit the car is flawed. We had no idea that this is a pervasive problem with all Tesla models and a quick online search will verify my point. Do not buy a Tesla until they can verify this problem has been resolved. We do not trust their brand after this horrible experience.”

This is one problem that Tesla chose not to talk about. Maybe the company is hoping no one will notice, but it’s become unavoidable, especially with all of the complaints online. People driving the Model Y are now asking themselves, “Why?”

Problems with the Structure

A final look at the structure shows the lack of care put into the construction of this model.

One more Edmunds review states, “Roof glass was not installed correctly, allowing air and water to enter the vehicle. The glass had to be adjusted. The charge port door was broken, had to be replaced. Multiple exterior panels, including fenders and hood needed adjusting.  The car had uneven gaps on most of the panels.  Most of the on the passenger side. Door glass had to be adjusted, also allowing water and air to enter the vehicle.”

Tesla has chosen to be relatively quiet about these problems too, other than one small communication. Service Bulletin #SB-20-10-003 discusses peeling and delamination issues with the paint due to a defect. However, customers are left waiting months for service appointments. By the time the problem gets fixed, the Model Y might just peel away into oblivion.

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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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Kami

    I recently was involved in a motor vehicle collision with the Model Y. I side swept one vehicle and rear ended another one in front of me. Please know my foot was on the brake the whole time this happened. The car went lunging forward two times and did not want to stop. Are they not made to detect objects around the vehicle? I am just glad no one was injured and that there were no pedestrians around.

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