HomeGuideTrue Cost Of Tesla Model 3 Maintenance, Are Teslas Really Maintenance Free?

True Cost Of Tesla Model 3 Maintenance, Are Teslas Really Maintenance Free?

Tesla Model 3 is the cheapest Tesla model you can buy if you’re looking for an electric car as your next vehicle. As it’s an electric car, it doesn’t require the maintenance required for internal combustion engine cars. So, it does not require oil changes, fuel filters, spark plug replacements, or emission checks. Brake pad replacements are also rare as it uses regenerative braking to return energy to the battery which significantly reduced wear on the brakes.

True Cost Of Tesla Model 3 Maintenance
Picture Courtesy – Rich Rebuilds

True Cost Of Tesla Model 3 Maintenance

Tesla recommends changing the cabinet air filter every 2 years. It is also advised to replace the High-Efficiency Particulate Filter (HEPA) every 3 years. Tire rotation, balancing, and wheel alignment should be done every 6250 miles or if the tread depth difference is 2/32 inches or greater. The brake fluid should be checked for contamination every 2 years and replaced if the need arises. The Air Conditioning service should be done every 6 years by replacing the AC desiccant bag.

Are Teslas Really Maintenance Free?

As Tesla maintenance is different as the car keeps getting software updates and keeps on evolving. Car and Driver drove their test car – Tesla Model 3 for 10,000 miles in six months. They have said the car receives a software update on an average in 16 days. After a major update has been released, there are mostly follow on updates to fix issues due to this major update.

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These updates have added features such as one-pedal driving with the help of regenerative braking, which helps you to drive the car using only the accelerator pedal. Before the update, the car used to slow down to 3 mph and would not come to a complete stop. A feature called “Dog Mode” has been added which keeps the cabin of the car cool. This helps the pets inside the closed car be comfortable while their owners do some work. It also tells people passing by the car that the car has Dog Mode activated by displaying this message and the set temperature. Dashcam and Sentry Mode also has been added. Sentry mode recorded the footage from the cameras all around the car when the car has been parked or when the owners want to use it. Before the car used to record this footage to an external drive. But now the owner can also view the footage recorded on the car’s screen.

Tesla also rolled out a software update to improve the performance of the car. The Tesla Model 3 already had the best performance in its class. But this update has claimed to have increased the car’s power by up to 5 percent and also a 0.1s improvement in its 0-60 mph time. This means when the research and development department of Tesla finds a way to increase the efficiency of its vehicles. It can mostly be delivered to its existing customers by just a software update. How cool is that? Car and Driver covered this distance in the winters so the range dropped by a large margin. Due to the car’s air conditioning working overtime. Also during cold weather, the batteries of electric cars deplete faster.

Tesla Model 3 Expenses After 20,000 Miles

When Car and Driver completed a distance of 20,000 miles in a year’s mark, they had spent a total of $313 which included $103 for tire rotation and $210 to lubricate the car’s brake calipers. The car’s brake lubrication is done annually for cars in places that use salt to rid the roads of ice during winters. This is done as the brakes of the cars are not used often due to regenerative braking. It prevents the brakes from seizing. This additional 10,000 miles was done during the spring so the Tesla Model 3 delivered a better range. Their current residential electricity rates cost 5.5 cents per mile to run the Tesla Model 3. If the supercharger network would be used exclusively then the cost per mile would double. So having a good high voltage charger at home will allow you to reap the benefits of using an electric car instead of an internal combustion vehicle. Car and Driver use the TeslaFi tracking tool and it reported that the car has lost a range of 22 miles of 7 percent of its capacity during this mileage.

Tesla Model 3 Expenses After 30,000 Miles

After completing 30,000 miles, we see that the savings of using electric vehicles over conventional vehicles do not provide any major cost savings. The brake lubrication every 12,500 miles brings the maintenance costs close to conventional vehicles that do not require this. They also reported that by 30,000 miles the car’s Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires were up for replacement. Premature tire wear is also a heavily discussed topic about the Tesla Model 3.

Andy Slye from the Youtube channel Any Slye has covered a distance of 73,000 miles on his Tesla Model 3. This is 2 times the average US mileage of 13,500 miles per year. On Andy’s car, the New Vehicle Limited warranty has expired which included the Basic Vehicle Warranty which covers the vehicle for 4 years/50,000 miles whichever comes earlier. It also includes the Supplemental Restraint System warranty which covers the vehicle for 5 years/ 60,000 miles whichever comes earlier. His car still has the Battery and Drive Unit Warranty which is covered for 8 years/ 120,000 miles whichever is earlier.

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He reported that his door handle wasn’t closing as it should have been. His windshield wiper was also making a clicking noise. The board needed to be replaced as the car’s cellular LTE data also stopped working. He also reported the driver’s side door making a loud popping noise during the winter while opening and closing. All these repairs were covered for free under the warranty by Tesla. These repairs were done at home by Tesla Mobile Service. This meant the car did not cause any inconvenience to its owner even though it these many problems. Around the 40,000 mile mark, Andy had to replace all four tires which cost him $640 total. The recommended service by Tesla was quoted at $600 which includes all that listed above.

After his warranty expired his driver-side door window started getting stuck and had to be repaired by the mobile technician for $94. Later the LTE connectivity stopped working again but was included in the hardware 3 computer warranty so this issue was fixed for free. Then the charge port door stopped opening and closing automatically which was fixed by the mobile technician for a whopping $300 ($185 parts, $115 labor). Recently his iPhone is not automatically connecting which may be an error from the seat occupancy sensor as the car is not recognizing him sitting in the driver’s seat. If the seatbelt isn’t fastened the car automatically shifts to park after shifting to drive.  It cost him a total of $1471 for his total mileage of $73,000 miles.

Our Thoughts

There are many reports of many quality issues with the Tesla Model 3 that Tesla needs to sort out. Tesla needs to ensure that the regular mechanical parts like the door handle and the charging port cover work as expected. This may hamper the usability of the car. Tesla’s mobile service is a very good initiative that does not make the car unusable by keeping it at the servicing station. This means that you could schedule the recommended maintenance of your Tesla while you are at the office or work! The majority of the car’s troubleshooting can be done over the air and any part replacement can be done by the mobile servicemen.

Since all the service stations are owned by Tesla itself, the recommended maintenance car comes out to be costly. As in the case with conventional internal combustion vehicles we can carry out the maintenance ourselves or with a third party. This would allow in saving a lot with the car’s maintenance schedule. So any if you experience any trouble with your Tesla you will have to visit or contact their official service personnel or centers only.

Car and Driver used the similarly average American drives their car in a year. Andy Slye used his car twice the amount an average American drives in a year and still faced only a few more part changes under warranty. Either Tesla needs to improve their warranty offered on their cars or making all the parts more reliable and dependant. This will make more people jump the fence into buying Telsa’s offering.

The maintenance costs of the Tesla Model 3 are only a little less as compared to internal combustion engine cars. If you cover high mileage in your Tesla which means your warranty will expire. So if any part requires replacement it will put a dent in your wallet. Due to these part changes the maintenance costs may equal or may also exceed the cost of conventional vehicles. In the coming years as Tesla increases their fit and finish and built quality these small issues may very well be negated. Then the maintenance costs will also decrease making the switch to a Tesla Model 3 very enticing.

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Soham Sawant
A Mechanical Engineer who is interested in everything related to mechanical and technology.

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