Whether it is to try to reduce their carbon footprint or the stylish looks of a Tesla, people all over the country have started to buy them. This begs the question, are they economical enough to offset the price of the car? Also, how expensive is it to maintain one?
Tesla cars, since they are electronic, require less maintenance per year than gas vehicles, which reduces the overall cost of owning one. For those who purchase a Tesla, the average yearly maintenance cost is under $500 per year, depending on exactly how old the vehicle is and what it requires.
The true cost varies based on your specific Tesla and its needs. For instance, if you have a new Tesla, like with any new vehicle, it requires less maintenance overall. However, while everyone has some idea of what a gas car needs when it comes to maintenance, not everyone knows what an electric car needs, so read on to find out.
Tesla vehicles are unique because they are electric and do not require some of the same maintenance as a normal gas motor car. For instance, oil changes, fuel filters, and exhaust systems do not exist on these vehicles, which lowers the yearly maintenance costs significantly compared to a regular car.
If you are curious about what needs to be maintained and how often, Tesla lists their recommended maintenance on their website as:
|Recommended Maintenance||Recommended Intervals|
|Cabin Air Filter||Every Two Years|
|HEPA Filter||Every Three Years|
|Tire Rotation, Balance, Alignment||Every 6,250 Miles|
|Brake Fluid Test||Test Every Two Years|
|Air Conditioning Service||Varies on Model|
|Winter Care||Brake System Cleaned and Lubricated Every Year|
Cabin Air Filter
Like a traditional vehicle, the cabin air filter for the Tesla works to take any pollen, dust, or other debris before it enters the cabin of the vehicle. Over time, these filters tend to get full and wear out, causing a blockage.
As a result, Tesla recommends that the cabin air filter be changed out every two years to prevent any overall decrease in performance of your vehicle. The cost of the filter varies depending on which model Tesla you own.
- The filters are around $27 for the Model X
- The filters are about $50 for the Model S
Remember that Tesla recommends replacing these filters every two years. Whether you replace them more or less often is up to you. Tesla leaves the option up to the owner to determine the need for following the recommended guidelines.
In most cases, Tesla does not make it a condition of maintaining the warranty on the vehicle. However, if you have an extended warranty on your vehicle, refusal to get the recommended services completed may cause you to have issues with the extended warranty.
HEPA Air Filter
Tesla decided in 2016 to add a High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filter (HEPA) in their vehicles to further reduce the chances of pollutants from entering or remaining inside a vehicle. The HEPA filter design that Tesla uses is based, according to them, on the ones used in hospitals and clean rooms throughout the nation.
The HEPA air filter is only present in the Model S, Model 3, and Model Y and is available to be added as an upgrade to Model X. The prices differ depending on the vehicle:
- The price is around $40 for the Model 3 and Model Y
- The price is around $50 for the Model S
Tesla recommends replacing the HEPA filter every three years to ensure proper function. As stated above, this is a recommendation and does not mean that you need to do it. However, if you decide not to, as with any other recommended maintenance, if you have an extended warranty, coverage could be reduced if you do not.
Tesla touts that their HEPA system cleans out any pollution that may enter the vehicle, making it safer in higher polluted areas. Additionally, Tesla claims that the HEPA system also cleans the air outside of the vehicle.
Tire Rotation, Balance, Alignment
Tire maintenance is routine on any vehicle, regardless of whether it has a traditional motor or is electric. However, Tesla only recommends that the tires on their vehicles be rotated, balanced, and aligned every 6,250 miles on average.
Of course, you should adjust this based upon the terrain of the area you live in and how you drive your vehicle. For example, if you live in an area with potholes, the odds are that you will have to have this performed more often.
The average cost of rotating, balancing, and aligning tires on any vehicle will cost anywhere from $35 to $150, depending on exactly what you are getting done and where you have the service performed.
Tesla recommends that you complete these services at one of their authorized Tire Centers. However, you can have these services done at any tire company.
Brake Fluid Test
The brake fluid in any vehicle degrades over time, and that remains the same for Tesla vehicles. However, instead of recommending that you change brake fluid at certain intervals, Tesla recommends that the fluid be checked for contaminants every two years to determine if it needs to be changed.
You can have the check done by taking the vehicle to a Tesla Service Center or any brake shop that has the capability of checking the fluid. Additionally, there are products out there that enable you to check the fluid yourself for any breakdown or contaminants.
Items to check the brake fluid, like test strips, can be purchased from Amazon. Prices range from around $20 up to about $90 for those who want to do the job themselves. Keep in mind that if you decide to do it yourself, you also need to check the fluid in the brake caliper to ensure the same reading.
If you choose to have the job done at a business, know that the cost will be anywhere from $70 to $150, depending on where you get the work done. Performing this service is necessary to ensure that the fluid is sufficient to allow for proper braking.
Air Conditioning Service
Tesla recommends that you get the air conditioning serviced every few years, depending on the model. The breakdown for how often Tesla recommends the air conditioning service is listed below:
|Model S||Every Two Years|
|Model X||Every Four Years|
|Model Y||Every Four Years|
|Model 3||Every Six Years|
Tesla recommends that you get the air conditioning serviced to ensure that the chemical desiccant is sufficient for the safe and continued operation of the unit. Tesla uses a desiccant to ensure that moisture does not build up in the air conditioning over time.
Desiccant, like any other chemical, will breakdown and degrade as time goes by. If the desiccant degrades to the point that it is no longer preventing moisture build-up, it could damage the air conditioning unit.
Getting the air conditioning serviced should cost approximately $50, provided there are no issues found during the service. If you need to replace the desiccant needs, it should cost around $170 or so, depending on where you get the service performed.
For those who opt not to get the service performed at the recommended interval, keep in mind that $50 or even $170 will be cheaper than repairing any damage caused if the desiccant has started to fail. And, as stated previously, opting not to get the recommended services may cause issues with any extended warranties.
Apparently, Tesla’s do not like being kept in cold weather as much as they do in warmer climates. As a result, on top of other recommended maintenance issues, Tesla recommends that the braking system be serviced yearly or every 12,500 miles.
The service recommended by Tesla includes cleaning and lubricating the brake calipers to ensure that everything is fully functional. People recommend that this service be performed at a Tesla Service Center or authorized brake company.
If you decide to take your Tesla to a professional, the service will cost under $200 with taxes, depending on where you go. You can save money if you decide to do the job yourself, but it is strongly recommended that you have full knowledge of the job before attempting.
The braking system on any vehicle is extremely important to ensure that there are fewer chances of crashing. If you do not know what you are doing, you could inadvertently damage the braking system and end up paying a lot more in the long run to fix it.
Electric Cars in Colder Climates
Operating a Tesla in colder climates also increases the amount of energy needed for your vehicle to operate normally. The increased energy needs mean that charges on your battery that would normally last longer distances will decrease as extra power is needed to keep the vehicle running.
To combat this issue, Tesla recommends that you take steps to ensure that the battery and the vehicle operate nominally:
|Recommended Cold Weather Routine|
|Precondition Car Before You Drive||Scheduled Departure|
|Conserve Energy while Driving||Limit Usage of Tesla App|
|Stay Plugged In||Pre-route Tesla to Supercharger Location|
Precondition Tesla Before You Drive
When the temperature dips outside, Tesla recommends warming up your battery before each trip. Warming up your battery allows the battery to preheat before driving and will ultimately conserve energy, which equals a cost-saving.
You can perform this method by opening the Tesla App and navigating to the climate setting. Once there, turn the climate setting on, which will start the process of warming the battery.
Additionally, Tesla recommends that the defrost be started, also through the app. While inside the app, navigate back to the climate setting and select the defrost icon.
Another way to combat extra charging costs is to schedule departure with your Tesla by using the touchscreen. To do this:
- Plug your vehicle into the charger and select the charging icon listed on the screen
- Select scheduled departure
- Select schedule
- Select depart
Doing this will enable you to input a time that you plan on leaving. According to Tesla, once you do this, your vehicle knows when it needs to start powering up to be prepared for your departure.
Conserve Energy While Driving
Tesla notes that energy consumption will increase during the winter months as your battery needs more juice to keep everything running. One of the ways Tesla recommends combating this issue is to conserve as much energy as possible while you are driving.
Tesla recommends that you do not drive at any high speeds whenever possible and limit rapid acceleration. Additionally, they recommend lowering the heat setting and utilizing the seat warmers instead when you need some heat inside of the vehicle.
Limit Usage of App
Any time you check the Tesla App, it causes your vehicle to wake to check the systems in the vehicle. Tesla recommends that this action is limited during the winter months as there is already a greater load on the battery.
The greater the load on the battery, the more energy is consumed by the vehicle. As stated above, increased energy use of your Tesla will increase the number of charges you need to keep your vehicle fully operational, which will increase your electricity costs.
Stay Plugged In
Tesla recommends keeping your vehicle plugged into a charger any time you are able during the winter months. The charging station allows your Tesla to utilize that power coming into the vehicle instead of from your battery to retain heat.
Again, anything that you can do to limit the amount of energy used by the battery will cause the price of charging during the winter months to remain closer to what you normally see. Lower temperatures will cause your charging pricing to increase.
Pre-Route Tesla to Supercharger Location
Another trick to get the battery in your Tesla to preheat would be to tell it that you are going to a supercharge location. The Tesla preheats the battery when it knows that you are traveling to a supercharge location to efficiently absorb the energy during the charging process. Remember that any increase in usage of your Tesla battery will:
- Cause your energy bill to increase if you charge at home
- Increase the odds that you will have to recharge more frequently
Having to charge more frequently might result in you having to use a charging station instead of just charging at home.
Cost of Charging
With an electric car, additional costs will be made over the course of you owning it in terms of keeping it charged. Whereas the cost for charging a Tesla undoubtedly be less than filling up a gas tank every week or so, it may not be something considered off-hand for those that are simply wondering if purchasing one is right for them.
When it comes to charging a Tesla, there are two main ways in which to do so, charging at home or at a charge station. Charging at home is probably the most convenient, and there are three different options for doing so.
|Type||Time Needed to Charge|
|Level One||14-27 Hours|
|Level Two||7-15 Hours|
|Level Three (Fast Charger)||40-60 Minutes|
As stated above, level one chargers are probably the most convenient because they give you the ability to charge your vehicle in your driveway or garage. However, as with anything, there is a cost associated with it, time and money.
The level one charging cord can be purchased (if not obtained during the sale) from Amazon from around $190 to $340. The cord works as you would expect, plug it into your home electrical system and plug the other end into the cord.
Charging time varies depending on which model Tesla you own and can range anywhere from 14 hours up to 27 hours to get a full charge. This is a non-issue for people who drive their vehicles on occasion and do not depend on them as daily drivers, especially for long trips.
On average, a Tesla owner can expect to spend under $20 to fully charge their vehicle at home. However, the actual cost to do so will vary depending on your electricity rates and if you have solar.
Level two chargers, like the level one chargers, are also convenient because you can charge your vehicle at home. The upside to using one is that it significantly decreases the amount of time needed to complete a full charge on the vehicle.
On average, depending on which model Tesla you own, you can expect it to take anywhere from 7 to 15 hours to complete a full charge. However, the increase in speed will cost you in terms of having to purchase the charger.
The level two charger can be purchased on Amazon anywhere from $200 to $700, depending on which one you purchase. Additionally, typically these chargers are installed by an electrician and require a dedicated 40-amp circuit. So, there are various costs involved, such as:
- The cost of the power cord
- The cost of an electrician
All of this could cost up to $1,000, depending on your specific region. However, it is a one-time expense, so it is something that you may want to consider.
Level Three (Fast Charger)
The level three charger is the fastest way to get your vehicle charged and ready. In most cases, again, depending on the model, the vehicle can be charged as quickly as 30 minutes.
While this sounds great, it should be noted that the level three charger itself is expensive, and a licensed electrician must install it. The average price for this charging method is around $500 on Amazon, and that does not take into account the cost of the electrician.
The level three charger requires a dedicated 480V direct-current system to affect the rapid charge. So, the total cost can range from $450 up to $1,700 for labor costs associated with installing the level three charger.
Additionally, installing the charger into the home can cost $500 to $1,700 with a Tesla Wall Connector. While this seems expensive, it is, as stated above, a one-time cost.
While the convenience of charging your Tesla at home may be appealing, keep in mind that those costs may elevate if your home is not capable of producing the electricity needed for your charger. Your home’s electrical panel might not be equipped to handle a 240-volt or larger circuit, which means that you will have to have it upgraded.
While costs will vary dramatically on the electrical cost depending on where you live, it could cost anywhere from $1,800 to $2,500 to upgrade your electrical panel. Additionally, your wiring may not be capable of holding the additional load of the electricity.
If that is the case, costs for upgrading the wiring will be an additional expense. Globally estimating the complete cost for such a task is impossible due to not knowing the details, which can include:
- The wiring itself
- The length of the wire
- The time needed to install it
As with anything, please check with your local authorities to determine the rules and regulations surrounding any electrical work. Additionally, receive as many estimates as you can from licensed and insured electricians to determine the overall cost.
Any time you do any type of work on your home, odds are that you are going to have to apply and obtain a permit. If that is the case where you live, you need to check with the local authorities to determine the cost of such a permit.
Typically, permits range from $50 up to $200, which will be charged by your local authorities to have a charging station installed at your home. However, some utility companies provide a rebate, which could reduce the amount needed for the permit.
It is always best to get with your local authorities to determine the requirements for the permit and the associated costs. This should be considered before you decide to have one installed.
Tesla charging stations require Wi-Fi to operate properly, which means that you may need to have a Wi-Fi extender for your residence. Most residential Wi-Fi does not extend beyond the exterior of the home.
The cost of Wi-Fi extenders varies greatly and can run anywhere between $20 to $80 for most brands on Amazon. The extenders work as an antenna and take in the Wi-Fi from your home and send it away from the location to extend the range.
Cost of Refilling at Public Station
If you do not want to charge your Tesla at your home or are unable to for any reason, there are public charging stations available throughout the country. In some cases, there is a cost associated with using them, and in others, the service is offered for free.
In circumstances in which you must pay to have your vehicle charged at a public station, know that the average cost to do so will roughly be double what you will pay at your own home.
Additionally, some public charging stations may charge you for what they refer to as an idling fee. The idling fee is assessed when your Tesla is still connected to the charger, yet your battery is full. The reason why they do this is that you are tying up a charging station that someone else may need.
The average costs are:
- The average cost to create a full charge at a public charging station could cost between $7 to $36 a time.
- The average cost for an idling fee ranges from $.40 to $1.30 a minute that your Tesla is attached to the charger when it no longer needs to be.
Electric Car Battery
Traditional vehicles obtain their power from gasoline, whereas your Tesla gets it from the electric car battery. Most electrical car batteries will last anywhere between ten to twenty years, depending on your model and how you maintain the vehicle.
The true cost of replacing a Tesla battery outside of warranty is not completely known, although there are some reports that they are around $6,500. However, there are other reports that the actual cost is significantly higher than that amount.
Floating around out there on the internet is a claim that a battery was damaged on a Tesla, which rendered it inoperable. The battery had to be replaced, and it was not covered under warranty.
The cost of replacing the battery in that instance, just the battery, was $13,500. The labor cost associated with the job was around $2,300.
As with any vehicle, there will be normal costs associated that are to be expected yearly. With a normal vehicle, those costs include oil changes, gas, and the occasional spark plug replacement. The average cost for maintenance on these types of vehicles is roughly $1,500.
With a Tesla vehicle, the same rule applies regarding expected preventive maintenance costs. However, there are no oil changes, no gas, and no spark plugs that need to be replaced. As such, the average cost for maintenance on these vehicles is significantly lower and tends to range to around $500 a year.