Maintaining your Tesla: everything you need to know

2022 Tesla Model 3 in charcoal, driving.
2022 Tesla Model 3 in charcoal, driving.

Maintaining a Tesla seems easy enough, according to a promise of the electric vehicle revolution. After all, by having fewer mechanical parts in the car, you don’t have to have the expense and inconvenience of oil changes, transmission fluid replacement or coolants.

Tesla, America’s best-known EV maker, is doing everything it can to spread the message of easy maintenance and less expensive routine service costs. Still, keeping a Tesla on the road isn’t free, and service centers aren’t as common as regular auto shops. Read on for insight into Tesla maintenance.

The cost of maintaining a Tesla

Tesla maintenance

Tesla maintenanceTesla’s Model 3 is the second fastest-selling EV in America and one of the cheapest cars of its kind you can own. The sedan won our Lowest 5-Year Cost to Own Award in the luxury EV segment by being $16,411 cheaper than the average car in its class in five years.

However, most of the savings come from fuel costs. In our studies, the Model 3 costs slightly more to maintain than many gas-powered competitors. But the money saved on fuel more than makes up for the difference.

Where to go for Tesla maintenance

Tesla employs a fleet of mobile service providers. They will come to you where your Tesla is parked to perform routine maintenance. Including tire changes, air filter changes and other basic tasks.

For less frequent and more extensive work, Tesla maintains a network of service centers. The company has service centers in 35 states at the time of writing.

However, that doesn’t mean they are all conveniently located. Accessibility varies greatly depending on where you live. California residents can use 39 service centers in the state. If your Tesla has a problem in Idaho, take it to Boise.

Can you take your Tesla to a regular auto shop?

There are currently very few independent service shops with technicians certified to work on electric cars. That is likely to change in the coming years, as electric vehicles make up a larger proportion of cars on US roads. But right now, most independent stores don’t work on Tesla vehicles.

Tesla also notes, “If you choose to take your car to a non-Tesla store for service or repairs, coverage under your warranty may be affected.”

Routine Tesla Maintenance

Tesla vehicles use batteries and maintenance-free electric motors. They take the place of the engine, fuel system and transmission in a gasoline car – parts that are the source of most maintenance needs.

Like other electric cars, Teslas use a suspension system, tires, brakes and other components similar to combustion engine vehicles. These parts still require routine maintenance.

Do Tesla’s Unique Need Maintenance?

Tesla vehicles also require some unusual maintenance services due to their uniqueness. For example, regenerative braking uses the resistance of the electric motor to slow down a Tesla. This feature makes drivers less dependent on braking. That is why brake pads usually last longer in a Tesla than in a gas-powered car.

However, Tesla requires owners to lubricate the calipers annually in states that use road salt during the winter. Car and Driver magazine kept a Tesla for a year for testing purposes. They found that lubricating the brake calipers costs just as much as regular oil changes on a conventional car.

Many Tesla owners have shared anecdotes suggesting that a Tesla’s tires should be replaced before their predicted life ends. Tires advertised as lasting 40,000 miles can only last 30,000 miles on a Tesla. The increased wear and tear could be because EVs weigh more than gas-powered cars. Another cause could be that the instant torque of their engines causes high friction starting.

What maintenance can Tesla owners skip?

Because Tesla’s traditional engines and transmissions lack, regular tasks such as oil changes and coolant flushes are unnecessary.

How much does it cost to maintain a Tesla?

Our experts have determined that a Tesla Model 3 owner can spend $3,115 on maintenance over a five-year period. That is slightly higher than many gas-powered competitors. The equally large For example, Acura ILX cost $2,792 to service during the same period. The Genesis G70 cost $2,621.

But the fuel savings more than made up for the extra cost.

Can you maintain a Tesla yourself?

Some items in Tesla’s routine maintenance schedule are simple enough for a skilled home mechanic. For example, replacing the cabin air filter every two years is easy with minimal experience.

Other tasks, including testing brake fluid for contamination, require shop tools that most of us don’t have.

Owner’s satisfaction with Tesla maintenance

Tesla Sales Have Snowballed – The Company became America’s best-selling luxury automaker in late 2021. The network of service centers has not grown that fast. That’s why many Tesla owners have complained about extremely long wait times for service appointments.

During a recent earnings call with investors, Tesla Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn acknowledged the issue and promised to work on it. “Since then, we’ve worked extremely hard to address this, and we’ve seen our wait times come down,” he said. But, he added, “the best service is not a service. So as a company we are incredibly focused on both the initial quality of our vehicles and the reliability of our vehicles.”

Tesla Recommended Maintenance Schedule

Tesla Maintenance Guide

Tesla Maintenance Guide

Tesla publishes a recommended maintenance schedule for some services. It does not cover wearing parts such as brake pads, which must be inspected at each service and replaced if necessary.

Maintenance Interval
Cab air filter change Every 2 years (Model 3, Model Y)

Every 3 years (Model S, Model X)

Rotate tires, align wheels Every 6,250 miles
Test brake fluid, replace if necessary Every 2 years
Replace air conditioning desiccant bag 6 years (model 3)

4 years (model Y)

3 years (Model S, Model X)

Replace HEPA Air Particulate Filter Every 3 years
Clean and lubricate brake calipers Every 12 months or 12,500 miles in regions using road salt

Source: Tesla

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