Tesla began “mass production” of the Model S in 2012. In mid-2018, the much more affordable Model 3 achieved significant production of 5000 units/week. Having said that, Tesla still has a very short history with limited numbers of vehicles on the road in comparison to other automakers. Naturally, many potential consumers ask, “how will a Tesla hold up over the long run?” To help answer that, I interviewed a high mileage 2013 Tesla Model S owner, (Peter) from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Over the next few posts, I’ll share Peter’s ownership experience. Special thanks to Peter for taking the time to meet with me! Today, I’m going to focus on maintenance. Obviously the following is one owner’s experience, and experiences may vary from owner to owner.
Background on Peter’s 2013 Model S
In the fall of 2015, Peter bought a used 2013 Tesla Model S with rear wheel drive. Peter purchased the car directly from Tesla website and so it was a Tesla certified car. The car cost $75,000 CDN ($57,200 USD.) The car was delivered with 23,000 km (14,300 miles) on it. The warranty is 100,000 kilometres bumper to bumper. 8 years unlimited kilometres on the drivetrain.
Today, Peter has just over 195,000 km (121,000 miles) on it. Peter does a lot of highway driving due to his work. Each year, Peter estimates that he puts on around 45,000 km or 28,000 miles.
Range and Battery Degradation
Shortly after taking delivery of the vehicle, the battery had an issue. Consequently, Tesla replaced the battery AND the motor free of charge. In fall of 2015, the new battery range was 426 km or 265 miles. 4 years and 172,000 km later, the range has only slightly decreased to 404 km or 261 miles.
Internal Combustion Engines(ICE) vehicles with 200,000 km typically have had a significant amount of maintenance performed over their lifetime. For example, multiple oil changes, fluid changes, belts, pumps, spark plug replacements, etc. Conversely, Tesla is 100% electric and has far less moving parts. However, Tesla is not immune from breakdowns. In the following section, I’ve summarized all of the maintenance issues covered with and without warranty.
Maintenance Issues Covered by Warranty
- Two weeks after purchase, the battery had an issue and was replaced. In addition, Tesla went ahead and all replaced the drive unit (motor.)
- Replacement of 4 door handles. (The wiring harness wore out, but has since been replaced with newer generation components.)
- Replacement of Charge Port. (Lots of driving + Lots of Charging = Lots of wear and tear on the port.
- Sunroof(chattering when opening)
- Front driver seat (defective rail assembly)
- New 12v battery (2x) They tend to wear out every 2 years.
- Tail light seals (factory seals let moisture in, so was replaced)
- Steering rack bolts as part of a recall.
- USB ports
- SD memory card corrupted with an update and required a new SD card
Maintenance Outside of Warranty
- Charge Port Replacement. The charge port has been replaced 3 times. The first time was under warranty. Perhaps this is partially due to extreme Canadian winters(cold temperatures, road salt). In addition, the car is driven a lot and needs to be charged frequently. Therefore, leading to more wear and tear. A Charge port replacement costs about $600 CDN.
- Intermediate steering shaft worn out. Cost about $400 CDN.
- Broken rear passenger swing arm. Due to hitting a massive pothole and cost $2000 CDN to repair.
- Tires. On set number 4. Peter mentioned that he tends to buy inexpensive tires. Consequently, overall tire quality is probably a bit below average and wears out faster. Moreover, Peter also has a heavy foot. Having said that, a Model S weighs approximately 2100 kg or 4600 lbs. I assume the weight also contributes to wearing out tires faster than on a lighter vehicle. 4 sets of tires comes to about $2000 CDN. Peter also bought a set of summer rims and and tires, costing an additional $1800 CDN.
- Brakes have NOT been replaced. Tesla’s like most other electric vehicles has regenerative braking, greatly extending the brake life. In fact, by the time most cars hit 200,000 km, brakes may have been replaced 3 times.
Please note that this was the 17,805th Model S coming off of the factory line. In other words, one of the first cars Tesla produced. I’m sure that Tesla has learned a lot since this car was manufactured. As a result, quality and overall reliability has dramatically improved. For example, replacing the battery after only 20,000 km is unusual. Since then the car has put on an additional 172,000 km and suffered very little degradation. Having said that, Tesla has stood by the car as evidenced by much of the work performed through warranty. Overall, Peter has been pleased with Tesla’s service and warranty.
Thank you for reading my high mileage Tesla Model S maintenance post! I’ll be following this post with more about Peter’s ownership experience. In the meantime, please feel free to like, comment, share, and subscribe!