Service Plan: Trying to decide

Service Plan: Trying to decide

I'm having a hard time figuring out whether I should buy a service plan, and if so,
which one. I'm the kind of guy who's fine with paying for things if something goes
wrong - I never add insurance for rental cars, for example. So I'm trying to
determine if $600 makes financial sense. I'm leaning toward either trying it for a
year, or doing nothing. I have two weeks to decide. For what it's worth, I drive
around 12000 miles/year, and I'm within 15 miles of a service center.

Tesla Service includes:

- Annual inspection (or every 12,500 miles)
- Replacement parts like brake pads and windshield wipers (excluding tires)
- 24 hour roadside assistance
- System monitoring
- Remote diagnostics
- Hardware upgrades


- Can I just go to a Tesla store and pay for an inspection/checkup? What would that cost?
- Same thing for stuff like brake pads and wipers, etc. What about tires?
- I assume if something goes wrong out on the road, I call Tesla (at what number?), and
without a service plan I pay for the visit. Not sure how all this works in the new world.
- Dumb question: Without a service plan, I still get software updates over the air, right? Saw a line or two that cast doubt on that, but seems unlikely. Car tried to update last night and failed.
- What do I risk if I lack system monitoring and remote diagnostics?
- What are "hardware upgrades"? Can those be done outside of a service plan?

Thanks for any info on this. Love my Model S, even if it's smarter than I am.

[cross-posted to teslamotors and teslamotorsclub, apologies if you read both]

Sudre_ | May 24, 2013

Here's what answered that question for me on the subject since we sound similar. Would I board a plane that wasn't inspected once a year. Would I board a bus that was not inspected.... no, I probably would not take any public transportation of any kind that is not inspected.... particularly if it's new to the market. How about a roller coaster? nope.

I decided I would feel and be safer with at least one inspection a year from someone who knows what to look for so I purchased the basic 4 year service to reduce my costs.

In four years I will understand the mechanics of the car enough that I might be fine inspecting the basic safety stuff myself and maybe have Tesla check it out every two years.

Pulse | May 24, 2013

The real reason I chose to go with the Service plan is the promise of "Hardware upgrades" which I assume will be free of charge. Don't know what they are going to be but I am hoping to be surprised in future with a Nav upgrade (dont have the tech package) or front and back sensor installs, would love it if I get the 4GLTE dongle :-)

Te reason I qouted my wife was exactly what "Sundre" said ;-)

DouglasR | May 24, 2013

Some of these issues are not known with certainty, but here is my view.

First, of the things you listed as included in Service, I believe everything except the first two (annual inspection and replacement parts) are available WITHOUT paying for the Service. 24-hour roadside assistance is included in conjunction with the new vehicle warranty, so you get that for at least four years without paying for service. System monitoring and remote diagnostics, at least to address particular problems that may arise, also do not require a Service Plan. If nothing else, they use these tools to determine if the problem is covered under the warranty. Obviously, general monitoring and diagnostics in the absence of any observed problems would be part of the Annual Service. Hardware (and software) upgrades have been discussed in other threads, but I believe you will get them with or without a Service Plan. Others disagree.

Notwithstanding that many of these services are available without a Service Plan, I agree with Sudre_ that the Annual Inspection alone is worth the $600. While the car has fewer moving parts than an ICE and there may be fewer things to go wrong, it is still a very complex piece of machinery with many new technologies. TM can run various diagnostics as part of an inspection designed to detect problems BEFORE they become manifest. Both for safety's sake and to protect my investment, I think it is important to have this car looked over periodically by someone who knows what he is doing.

To answer your other questions:

If you just go to a service center and have an inspection/checkup, that will cost you $600 and will cover you for replacement parts for a year. In other words, that IS the Service Plan. The four- or eight-year product is simply a Prepaid Service Plan. You will get exactly the same service.

The Service Plan (prepaid or not) covers maintenance/replacement parts like wiper blades and brake pads. It does NOT cover tires (except rotation, balancing, alignment, etc.).

Yes, you get software updates with or without a Service Plan.

You won't lack system monitoring and remote diagnostics if a problem arises while your car is under warranty. You will certainly get monitoring and diagnostics, remote or not, when an Annual Inspection is performed.

Hardware upgrades have been the subject of much discussion in these threads. I believe that any hardware upgrades offered for free will involve replacing or correcting parts that are problematic, even if yours hasn't failed yet -- e.g., door handles. I believe these will be offered even if you do not have a current Service Plan. I do NOT believe TM will add substantial features such as parking sensors without charging you for them, and this would also be irrespective of whether you have a Service Plan.

As mentioned above, I do not have definitive statements from TM to back up some of these opinions. I am basing my views on a careful reading of the documentation, observations of the way TM has operated up to now, and simple logic. You should draw your own conclusions in making your decision about the Service Plan.

J.T. | May 24, 2013

I have also gone back and forth about this.
It seems logical that if you're going to take the car in once a year for the "thorough going over" a sophisticated piece of technology deserves then why not save the $500.00 and prepay it?

If nothing else, as the S becomes more prevalent, perhaps the people who prepay will get priority for service appointments.

DouglasR | May 24, 2013

@jtodtman - I wasn't addressing the question of whether or not to prepay. Other considerations come into play there: What discount rate should you use in computing the present value of $2,400 over four years or $4,800 over eight years (e.g., would you be better off investing that up-front cash)? Do you expect the price of the Annual Service to increase? I prepaid mine, mostly because I don't want to think about it again. But I was mainly trying to answer the question of whether to get a Service Plan at all.

elguapo | May 24, 2013

The "Hardware Upgrades" are not discussed in the actual agreement as far as I can see. They're just bullet points on the service page. I think there's no guarantee service will be $600/year a la carte, price could go up. So locking in four years today makes sense. Just don't expect the hardware upgrades, if they're included, to be anything significant.

carlf9121 | May 24, 2013

For peacy of mind, I opt for the 4 + 4 Service Plan. The MS being such a revolutionary vehicle with the highest level of silicon & software content of any car on the market, to keep my high $$$$$$$ investment on my P85 running as Designed for years to come, best to have Telsa inspect it at least once per year. I wouldn't trust having the car serviced anywhere else except Tesla. Also with the constant feed of data from all cars in the field to their hqtrs, Tesla SC will be proactive and correct those issues before they become issues on your vehicle. Why try to save $600 a year when you already spent $$$$$$$ on the car? I see from the threads so many owners spenting $$$$$ on wrapping the cars to preserve the paint, waxes, etc., why not budget for the Service to be sure the car runs top notch mechanically with all electrical // computer systems functioning as designed? I hate to be stranded somewhere, no access to a tow truck with a flat bed and my significant other reading me the riot act for not getting the car service to prevent mechanical / electrical breakdown. Don't be Penny wise - Pound foolish. Protect your investment.

DonS | May 24, 2013

I paid because I wanted too make sure that anything that goes wrong is covered. Sure there are fewer mechanical parts, but there are still a lot, and they are very unique. Also, I've never seen a sunroof that didn't leak eventually as the seals age, and I want to be sure it stays leak free regardless of what Tesla has to replace.

I think this is lot about faith. The early adopters put their money in trusting Tesla to do right. I wasn't that early since Tesla was already in production when I made my reservation, but it was still before the rest of the world learned about the Model S. I have faith that Tesla isn't going to take my money for just a new set of wiper blades.

Eletrek | May 26, 2013

I rarely buy service plans or agreements but didn't hesitate to buy the 4 year plan with unlimited road ranger. Rational: new company, new technology and first time they built a car. Took less than 5 seconds to decide.

Brian H | May 26, 2013


Just the reduction in nervousness (though hardly complete) would justify it. TM is at pains not to make non-purchasers nervous, but ...

Xerogas | May 27, 2013

I asked Ownership Experience about the 'hardware upgrades" to find out if the service plan included new stuff, like parking sensors or adaptive cruise control. Here's how he replied:

------------------- direct from Tesla Rep ----------------
Thank you for reaching out to us at Tesla Motors, I am happy to clarify what annual service entails. You are correct, that the annual service may include upgraded parts. However, they will not be parts that add features to the vehicle. An example service shared with me, coming from our Roadster vehicles, was an upgraded fan. The upgraded fan was hardier, and therefore less likely to be replaced due to failure. While it would be nice to have your Model S outfitted with parking sensors, when and if they become available, it appears they will not be added at our annual service.

electricblue0303 | May 27, 2013

I bought the $2,400 deal and like the peace-of-mind that comes with it. I spend at least $600/year on the ICE maintenance as it is (2005 Prius with 130k miles on it)so the price seems reasonable.

conrad_damon | May 27, 2013

Thanks for the input, everyone. I'm leaning toward the $1900 four-year plan. The interesting thing in this brave new world is that there's no way for me to be sure what exactly I'm buying, and whether it was a good decision, until four years from now (peace of mind aside). So I feel like I'm going in blind. With my previous cars, I was happy to pay for regular maintenance as I went, and to fix anything that broke as it happened. There's a chance I'll go for a year at $600 and assess afterwards. Since the only service vendor is Tesla, it's not clear to me exactly what the types of maintenance and/or repair would normally come up. Certainly not the things I'm used to like oil changes, spark plugs, radiator flush, etc.

J.T. | May 27, 2013

Like many, I've been going back and forth. My determining factor is that I will be hard pressed to put more than 6000 miles a year on the car. With all of the info we can glean from the documentation, press releases, Tesla personnel, forums and even speculation there seems to be little reason to pay ahead. Sure you'll save $125.00 per year over 4 years but if you stretch your pay- as -you -go service to 16 months you'll save $100 over the prepaid.
The argument for peace of mind doesn't resonate with me because you'll always be able to get service whether prepaid or not. Plus the warranty is still in force.
So, I'm not taking it. I can see no logical reason to do it.

info | May 27, 2013

I drive a lot. In about three months, I've put over 7,500 miles on the car. I initially bought the 4+4 plan, but then I recalled it. Tesla will not give you 4 services for $1,900. It's 12,000 miles or 1 year, whichever comes first. In my case the 4 year plan would last about 2 years. I figure I will go in once a year at $600 with about 20,000 miles.

I specifically called Ownership and asked if I could buy 4 services for $1,900 and use them whenever. I was told it was 1/year or 12,000 miles whichever came first.

Ddowns2050 | May 27, 2013

I'm going to buy the 4 year with unlimited ranger service. I live 200 miles from the nearest service center and if something goes wrong I don't want to worry about having to get it there or if it takes half a dozen times for them to get the problem fixed I won't have to worry about how many times I call them. I remember some people took more than one try to get the creaks out of the pano roof. For me it is peace of mind and unlimited service with them coming to me at a pre set price.

Brian H | May 28, 2013

You will find enjoyable detours, joy rides, and superfluous errands to double that 6000 miles. I betcha.

J.T. | May 28, 2013

Brian H, I can see it now.
"Honey, where did you go today?"
"I just went to see our daughter."
"Was it nice in Long Beach?" (9 miles away)
"Other daughter"
"YOU DROVE TO ALBANY!!!" (171 miles)

J.T. | May 28, 2013

BTW Brian H, did I read you're from Canada?

elguapo | May 28, 2013

There's no guarantee annual service will remain $600/year. Once more Teslas are on the road and TM has a better feel for actual servicing costs (and inflation), the annual cost (w/o an agreement) could increase significantly. That's essentially the only reason I am buying the four year service plan - to lock in $475/year today.

J.T. | May 28, 2013

What goes up . . .

skulleyb | May 28, 2013

Here is a question, if Elon does not want to make a profit on service why do we have two prices.
One for a upfront payment and two if you pay as you go. It seems to me that he should just make one price and make good on his claim. Make all service $475 and be done with it. Other wise its seems like Tesla is penalizing people who decide to pay as the go for no particular reason.

J.T. | May 28, 2013

Are you being penalized for buying a quart of milk because a gallon is cheaper than 4 quarts?

Brian H | May 28, 2013

Yes, Vancouver.

certainty and time-value of money are more than sufficient reason from TM's POV. Yours is not the only relevant perspective and interest; they have to balance out.

J.T. | May 28, 2013

I'll be in your fair city end of July boarding a cruise up to Whittier. Spending the afternoon on Granville Island.
Re your comment about finding places to drive thereby boosting my annual mileage: I guess driving from NYC to meet you for lunch is out of the question.

Brian H | May 28, 2013

Depends on how many days later, I guess!

rdalcanto | May 28, 2013

Year 1 and year 3 have very short service lists. The most complex thing on the list is checking coolant level and making sure the radiator/condenser isn't plugged up with leaves.

If I saw that they were doing some more complex, computer assisted diagnostics, I would be more tempted to bite.... I might just pay for service on years 2 and 4.

DouglasR | May 28, 2013

@rdalcanto - Thanks for posting that. It does give some definition to what everybody's been arguing about. However, I wouldn't bet that this is an exhaustive list. For example, the service centers get service bulletins all the time -- the manager of the Seattle Service Center has mentioned these to me. I would assume that any corrective actions recommended by these bulletins would be taken while the car is in for its annual service. Also, I find it peculiar that although the sheet contains a code for "Electronic Check," there are no actions that actually use this code. I find it hard to believe that they perform no electronic diagnostics at all, which makes me question whether the list is complete.

rdalcanto | May 28, 2013

You make a good point. I took my 2012 Porsche 911S to the dealer because after 3 hard days at the track, my brakes were squealing. While it was there, they made other updates to the engine and transmission I didn't know it needed. I would have missed those if I had not taken it in. As a side note, Porsche replaced all rotors and pads for free as a one time courtesy (they said if I track it again I'm on my own next time). I hope Tesla provides that level of service for its customers....

mikefa | July 16, 2013

Thank you everyone for all the valuable inputs, especially to: DouglasR, Xerogas, info@richardpo, and rdalcanto who have gave valuable deep insights to help evaluate the Service purchasing decision.

201w77 | July 25, 2013

So I called the service center in San Diego and feel at piece with my decision to skip the service plan. The advisor strongly recommended the service as he told me there are more "moving parts" on this electric car than what most people think. (Air conditioning, center touch panel, etc.). He explained that the annual service checks are very comprehensive. I then asked him if something on my car broke, would it be covered under the standard 4 yr warranty. He said yes. I then tried to encapsulate the essence of our conversation. It went like this...

"So I can pay $1900 (4 yr prepaid plan) to prevent something from breaking whereby if it did, in fact break, it would be fixed for free under warranty." Ergo, the only thing this service agreement offers me is the ability to pay & prevent something from breaking that would be free to get fixed anyway. He reluctantly agreed but told me the warranty is only for 4 years. My reply... "so would it make sense to go without service checkups for yrs 1-3 and then just before the 4th year, invest $600 for a one time service check/overhaul? He felt this was reasonable.

201w77 | July 25, 2013

Just to add to my previous post, the gentleman at the service center didn't actually say he thought my idea of service in yr 4 (instead of a prepaid plan) was "reasonable" or "a good idea". He just replied to me that he understood my thought process. He didn't have an answer to counter my approach.

*BTW, In case TM mgmt reads this, all the service folks in San Diego are awesome. I even upgraded to a HPWC based on speaking with them.

firerock | August 7, 2013

@201w77, I have similar conversation with their service as well. If you live within 75 miles of a service center, you already get free valet service so there's no need to get ranger service. And if anything breaks within 1st 4 years, they are under warranty. I might just go in on year 2 & 4. Otherwise, I'll save the upfront cost to invest in other items (or their stock).

James- | September 28, 2013

Something to note is that it looks as if warranty may be voided if the vehicle is not properly maintained. Rather than repeat and possibly misrepresent what is written it is advisable to review the terms directly.

For example, there is a booklet provided with the car called New Vehicle Limited Warranty, page 4 has a section on Voided Warranty and it does mention observing scheduled inspections and performing vehicle maintenance.

I have not read previous comments in detail so may be repeating what someone else has pointed out.

hyperarmor | September 28, 2013

James -

You are correct that the book implies that service is required to avoid invalidating the warranty. However, I have since confirmed with the service center personnel that they have "stopped telling people that they need to service the car to keep the warranty active." He went on to say specifically that they have been told to honor all warranty claims independent of how often you've brought the car in for service. My feeling is that a decision was made higher up to enforce the warranty no matter what since customers may have complained about being threatened to buy the service plan or else.

J.T. | September 29, 2013

This from the blog on the main page by Elon about service and warranty:
As such, we are comfortable making the annual checkup entirely optional. There is still value to having Tesla look at the car once a year for things like tire alignment, to address a few things here & there and perform any hardware upgrades – our goal is not just to fix things, but to make the car better than it was. However, even if you never bring in the car, your warranty is still valid.

AmpedRealtor | September 29, 2013

If you have a maintenance issue that you do not know about, fail to proactively address the maintenance issue through a service and/or inspection, and ultimately the maintenance issue leads to the damage of other components, those other components will not be covered under warranty and neither will the maintenance issue itself if its failure was also not due to a manufacturing defect.

For example... if the bolts on your wheels were coming loose and the problem persisted until one of your wheels flew off and damaged your suspension and a host of other items, nothing would be covered under warranty. If you had taken your car to a service inspection, they would have caught the problem and addressed it.

Warranties cover manufacturing and design defects, they do not cover damage caused by lack of maintenance. Waiting for something to break and then hoping it will be covered under warranty doesn't seem like the most prudent course of action with a car of this value. Does Tesla do a total system diagnostic and vehicle inspection at the time they fix your window clips under warranty? I don't know.

I would rather catch a problem before it causes other problems. This car is new technology, it's not like you can just take it to Jiffy Lube when it's not feeling well. I pulled the trigger on the $1,900 4 year plan, the car is too important to me to not have it checked up on an annual basis.

GDH | September 29, 2013

I'm with the realtor guy, I'm paying for the annual inspection up front.

hyperarmor | September 29, 2013

In my case, I will be hard pressed to put more than 12500 miles on my MS within two years. Since my feeling is that the undetectable (until it breaks something) issues mentioned by AmpedRealtor are unlikely to present themselves while the car is just sitting around, it seems reasonable to me. Obviously, that's just my opinion for my situation. If I were planning on driving it for more than the mileage limit within less than a year, I'd probably buy the service plan without a moment's thought. And if I do end up driving it much more than I originally planned, so be it, I'll take it in every 12500 miles and eat the $500 or whatever difference it is 4 years from now.

J.T. | September 29, 2013

@amped Would your scenario be covered if the car had maintenance, or are you just hoping it wouldn't happen?