Model S

For those of you living far away from service center

edited October 2015 in Model S
I don't own a Tesla (yet). There is only one service center in the state and it's 190 miles (approx. 3 hours) from where I live. My concern is about when something goes wrong with the car with the service center being so far away. What happens if I can't get into the car one morning (Tesla being the only car)?

I understand Tesla sends out rangers to fix certain issues. I accept that I may have to pay a higher fee due to the distance, which isn't a huge deal by itself. But it seems likely that I won't be able to go to work that day.

I would like to know about your experience if your service center is also far away.


  • prpprp
    edited November -1
    If your only car was an ice car and it failed one morning, is that any different?
  • edited November -1
    @prp ... Agree -plus, what ICE dealer would send a ranger to your home to diagnose and fix minor things.
  • edited November -1
    The Model S is continuing to improve in quality (according to CR) and actual inability to drive, while it happens, isn't common. If it does happen, there are a number of approaches to getting you back on the road...

    With the smartphone app you have some capabilities to monitor and control the car from a distance (or just standing next to it).

    If that doesn't work, Tesla has remote diagnostic and some control features that they can use when you call.

    There may be rangers permanently located in your city, so one might be able to get to you without a 3 hour drive. Ask your service center.

    Tesla might very well cover the cost of a local rental (typically Enterprise or Uber) to get you on the road if your car is incapacitated.

    Of course, you should talk to your "local" service center and ask about the costs.

    In general Tesla strives to use distributed (remote access, local rangers and tow trucks) to make your inconvenience similar or even less than having a local dealer.
  • edited November -1
    From what I've read in other threads, at 190 miles, you may be faced with a $1140 fee for a Tesla ranger to come out to your area because Tesla charges $3 per round trip mile.
  • edited November -1
    Tesla does not charge round trip, only way per mile @ $3 beyond 15 miles from the SC. At least that's what I have been told in FL
  • edited November -1
    If your only car were an ICE car and there were no dealer within a few hundred miles, AAA would still be able to figure out whether you were out of gas or had a problem with your starter or a problem with a fuel pump or any number of things. The real concern is that with Tesla, nobody else can help you. With any other car, you wouldn't want anybody else to help you since it you wouldn't want to pay for something that should be covered by warranty. So it's not quite the same.

    In the case of Tesla, you need to think of it the way you would think of any car that would go into a dealership and possibly be there overnight. How fast can Tesla get you a loaner? If they can get you a loaner within three hours, or arrange for a rental car company to show up at your house with a rental within the next 45 minutes, which would work for you? If Tesla can get you on your way, or send Enterprise Rent a Car to your house to give you a car that will be replaced by a P85D loaner by the end of the day, would that work?

    If I were you, I'd call the service center and ask them what they would typically do to help somebody where you live.

    Another thing you can consider is towing coverage from your auto insurance company. The company would have to honor the terms of it, even if it turns out that it wasn't what they expected. Unlike AAA or Tesla that have mileage limits built into the terms, my insurance company goes what looks like a step further and can limit me to a tow to the nearest facility that can fix my car. In the case of Tesla, that nearest facility might be several hundred miles away. It would be hard for an insurance company to justify towing a car to a place that can't fix the car if the terms of the policy say otherwise.
  • edited November -1
    I live 210 miles from the nearest service center. On my original S85, I had unlimited Ranger service. My car was stranded several times, and there was no issue - they sent a ranger ten hours each way twice, and a shorter distance another time. They also came to my house that is closer to the service center twice, each time repairing the issue in my garage. They also did other things that were beyond the call of duty. However, I upgraded to a P85D earlier this year, and was shocked to find that the unlimited Ranger service policy is no longer available at any price, and that the ranger charges and towing fees are quite high.

    Further, and most importantly to me, the formerly lax policy on towing and other gratis customer satisfaction service, that may have been beyond the technical boundaries of the company's obligation, are no longer being extended. At one time, they would actually fly a technician in, put him up in a hotel and do whatever was necessary to keep the customer happy and on the road. Those days are gone, and high towing bills are now the norm. They also charge for basic things like valet service, even for local help. This is partly the company maturing and figuring out that service must at least break even, despite management's former comments that service is not intended to be profitable. It is now just as expensive to have similar services done on your S as on a Mercedes (tire replacement, for example, is identical at our local MB dealership vs the Tesla center).

    The question you ask is how to think about it. I am resigned. I wish that Tesla had more service centers and that they took more responsibility for having so few, by going the extra mile. People are quick to say it is your choice to be so far away. While there is some truth to that, the fact is that the nearest Tesla location is 210 miles, and I pass twelve Ford dealerships, six Toyota dealers, and even three Porsche dealers to get there. So, to an extent, it is incumbent on Tesla to bear some of the cost of their inconvenience factor. They did recognize that at one time, but no longer seem to think it necessary. I disagree, but so be it. It helps our situation that we have a second home abut 30 miles from a service center, and if not, we might not own the car. With that said, I would go out of my way to own this great vehicle, and would pay a premium for location difficulty as part of the experience.

    Do NOT buy into the bull**** around here that EVs, and specifically Teslas, need less service, and so you should not be worried. My two Teslas have visited service centers many times more per mile than any new car that I have owned in my life. You WILL need and use your service center. Even my 9-month-old P85D with only 19k miles on it has needed service for real (non-maintenance) repairs four times already, twice as many times as my wife's Porsche or my F-150 have needed service in the same time period - and in my case, serious parts had to be replaced (front half shafts, main touchscreen, and a few others). My 2013 S85 needed to be almost rebuilt, with multiple drive units, new roof panel, main battery, 12-volt battery several times, new bumper front and rear, and a long list of other more minor things like pumps, blowers, door handles (six), suspension parts, air vents, seatbelts, interior panels, windshield, etc. We had a great 30,000-mile experience with that car, but it did need attention at the service center more than any car I have ever owned, hands down. That car may have been an outlier, but my P85D is not by any means. You will need a relationship with your service advisor unless you are an outlier in the other direction.

    Responding to comments above:

    @prp "If your only car was an ice car and it failed one morning, is that any different?"

    Yes, because other major car manufacturers have locations in dozens of places in most every state. Tesla has one or none in most states, two in a few states, with the exception being California - and even there, you have this issue in places like Fresno, Bakersfield, Eureka and Redding - all 150+ miles t the nearest Tesla location. If you live in a place like Walla Walla, WA, or Wyoming, the Dakotas, Idaho, etc., you do have a nearby dealer (relatively speaking) for every major auto manufacturer - not so Tesla. Further, many third party auto service options exist for any ICE, but you need Tesla for almost anything but tires on our cars.

    @Goose "@prp ... Agree -plus, what ICE dealer would send a ranger to your home to diagnose and fix minor things."

    Many do so. I have never taken my Porsches, Mercedes, or Fords in for service. I have never actually even been inside my local Ford dealer in Painter, VA, even though I have bought four pickups from him. They come get my trucks every time I need something done, and deliver the new custom-ordered ones to my farm. It is all in how you treat people in my experience, and in how much they value your business. I never haggle on price and don't jerk dealers around, and get treated accordingly. That might be different in the city Ford locations, but Annapolis Porsche and Mercedes Benz of Annapolis have always provided pickup and loaner service free of charge to me (within 30 miles - I have never asked them to go 200 miles to our farm and do not think they would do so). We have had less positive experiences with recent Mini, BMW and Toyota dealerships, but that is their business model - less white glove treatment, lower customer expectations.

    Putting the service center conundrum in perspective, Tesla has about 65 service centers nationwide, with a dozen or so in planning or construction. Toyota has 41 dealerships in Virginia alone, and has 77 in New York. more than Tesla has nationwide. Toyota has 172 dealers in California alone, nearly three times what Tesla has across the country. That comes with a price to the owner and may or may not be worth it, depending on your location and tolerance.

    In summary, you have to decide how much location pain and inconvenience you can live with because Tesla now makes it your problem where you live relative to their sparse locations.
  • edited November -1
    Speaking of your Wyoming hypothetical, my BMW and Volvo both got serviced 425 miles away in Denver and the Porsche was serviced in Colorado Springs which was 69 miles further. When I was down to Denver for my Tesla service in August, I saw my neighbor's car there--it had been flat-bedded and I'm almost certain it was gratis. I also noticed labor rates continue to be posted at $125/hr. So YMMV.

    Service is intended to be cost neutral, and I believe it went a few percent into the red last year which resulted in some changes. I would not be surprised if each service center is autonomous and has latitude over good will and labor rates.
  • edited November -1

    "I would not be surprised if each service center is autonomous and has latitude over good will and labor rates."

    I would be quite surprised if the service centers are autonomous. That sounds far too much like traditional service centers located at dealerships or even franchise centers. Exactly what Tesla appears to reject. Of course each SC will operate a little differently but still within a framework provided by Tesla. I do agree with you in that centers may tighten the "good will" philosophy and not consistently. I believe they are still trying to find their way within that framework.

    I find it hard to wrap my head around all of the pieces that put Tesla Motors together. From R & D to manufacturing to sales to supercharger/destination to service to Gigafactory to etc.. All are emerging areas of experience for Tesla; and, for us.

    Tesla is developing a system that is incredibly risky. As owners we are risk takers. GoneToAsheville, OP, is considering taking the risk. I can only applaud the early adopters and thank them all for sharing their experiences. It helped me decide.
  • edited November -1
    Knowing that I would probably be much less likely to purchase another Tesla. That's sorrowful.
  • I live 160 miles from the Portland service center in central Oregon. I have owned for a year. The car has required very little. I had an XM radio antenna problem when new they came to my house and fixed free. Other than that, tire rotations. Once in Portland gratis, once in a southern California SC gratis.
    Being stranded is never good but it can happen in any car. Once your car hits the tow truck it really does not matter where it goes. Tesla provides loaners or Enterprise rentals when that happens. And for really short term stuff there is always that good old taxi. Or Uber.
  • edited November -1
    Reliability is average and improving per Consumer Reports. PD had it bad but I don't think it's that bad overall. Problem free on mine. If I was looking at Porsche I don't think I would do so if the distance from the service center was far- regardless of reliability ratings. Having a Tesla is unique. Personally I would have still bought if three hours away.
  • edited November -1
    I live in central Montana, the closest service center is 500 miles at Salt Lake and as of yet I can't drive there without a overnight stay. When our P85D failed to start one morning I called Tesla and they had a car rented for us within a couple of hours. They also had the car diagnosis and picked it up in one day and had it back 4 days later. It took Chevy dealer almost two weeks to fix a similar problem in the Volt.
    We will be driving to Portland for annual service in December. Car has been very good with only 2 minor cosmetic issues to address.
    Interestingly I was able to monitor the location of the car almost all the time it was gone, with exception of when it was in the shop being worked on.
  • edited November -1

    Did this incident happen recently? Were the pickup and delivery free of charge or did you have to pay an exorbitant amount of money because of the distance between you and the service center?
  • edited November -1
    I live 175 miles from the nearest service center. In one year of ownership I have had ZERO need to take it in. I did order the center console, they picked up and dropped off the car on a flat bed truck, with a loaner, and charged me $0.00.
  • edited November -1
    This happened last spring and to date I have had to pay nothing. When the car came back I noticed no AC. The fellow that dropped it off tried to fix it but couldn't. Tesla sent a ranger and he was unable to fix it. They wanted to haul it back to Salt Lake again. I suggested that I drive it to Denver as I was going to Custer anyway and I wanted the car. They make the arrangements fixed AC rotated tires no cost. I do expect I will have a charge at Portland at annual inspection as we will have 25K+ miles
  • edited November -1
    I live in Boise, and the nearest service center is Salt Lake City. What I have found from some communicating with them is that they collect together non-urgent service issues, and send a Service Ranger technician up to this area about every month or two to make the house calls, so no one has to pay the $3 per mile service fee if you wait for that scheduled visit.

    I was down in SLC for comic con a few weeks ago, so I had some work done while it was there, but there was a part they didn't have, so they are coming to Boise next week and will take care of that when they're here.

    I've never had it not start or not drivable in a year and a half.
  • edited September 2019
    I am a Model 3 owner. I WILL NOT buy Tesla again because of the service. I need my car fix, but the soonest appointment is Not available for at least 2 weeks.
  • edited September 2019
    I am a Model S and Model 3 owner and I WILL buy Tesla again, maybe this week, because of the service. And I live over 400 miles from the nearest service center for over six years of ownership.
  • edited November -1
    @Tthai72- sorry to hear that. If I would have said that about every vehicle that I've owned that could not be fixed right away.... I'd be riding a horse by now. Since you've already made up your mind, my comments are more for others who may feel the same frustration. Not all experiences will be the same, but how much we let it get under our skin can be bigger than the experience itself.

    If the problem with the car renders it undriveable until serviced, Tesla will provide a loaner or rental- and it has been my experience that these issues are given priority.

    If the service need isn't critical- there is no reason for them to take your car before they can dedicate a fair amount of time to the problem. Relax. Enjoy the ride. It does get frustrating, however, if you've waited the few weeks only to find out they cannot address the service need without ordering parts...

    Despite having my share of frustrating service need events over the years, Tesla has its' share of quirks- and they stand out because they are very different than the others. I have to admit that overall, I've been more content with Tesla's service than anybody else. As a general rule, they are very good at prioritizing service that needs to be speedy over those that we want to be speedy.
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