Annual Maintenance Costs

Annual Maintenance Costs

There was a thread started on the Tesla Forum boards regarding what the maintenance fee would be per year for the Model S. I called a couple stores today and was surprised to find out they still don't know what the maintenance fee was or if there was any at all. One store said it would be $300/year and the other store said $1200/year because you needed 2 checkups per year. I was under the assumption that the upkeep and repair of the Model S would be far lower than an ICE car, so am surprised/confused that the maintenance fee would be anything above $200-$300 per year. at $500+, that seems like a premium to normal maintenance costs of an ICE, not a discount. Does anybody know what the yearly maintenance fee is going to be if anything at all? Thanks

Sudre_ | July 14, 2012

Try this thread for many comments on this issue. There hasn't been any new news that I know of.

Sudre_ | July 14, 2012
jscottsanders | July 14, 2012

I asked this question at the WDC event today and was told $600 per year.

Teoatawki | July 14, 2012

I believe in the video of the shareholders meeting, Elon said $50/month. (x 12 = $600/year).

bsimoes | July 14, 2012

It's this kind of thing that is making my enthusiasm lose steam. This same question has been asked forever and is just met with silence or confusion by Tesla. Between the cost issue and where to get the car serviced, my frustration is at a point where I am thinking I'll need to wait at least another year until Tesla figures this all out, and then I'll have to decide if their solution works for me. I'm certainly not going to sign any contracts until I know these answers. I'm really kind of amazed that people have!

rd2 | July 14, 2012

Considering I will be saving over $3k a year on gas alone, paying $600 for maintenance that is mostly done at your own home or place of work (which tesla has repeatedly talked about) is well worth it.

JackA | July 14, 2012

Ah, but one of the often mentioned advantages over an ICE is the lower cost of ownership. I do not pay even close to $600/year to maintain my CTS-V...

stephen.pace | July 14, 2012

@bsimoes: We are certainly still in early adopter mode and anyone with low risk tolerance should probably wait until more of the unknowns are known. However, I figure Tesla is going to try and do the right thing, and I take Elon at his word that maintenance will be lower than a comparable ICE. Sure, Tesla could come out and say maintenance is $6000 a year, and people would rightfully go berserk, but no one here thinks that will happen. I would honestly hope the figure comes in lower than the Roadster (e.g. a base $57k car should be less than a base $107k car), but having said that, what needs to get checked is very similar on both. Regardless, I believe the absolute max would be $600/yr (e.g. what Roadster owner's pay).

Schlermie | July 14, 2012

Although the maintenance cost may be no bargain, there seems to be less maintenance needed and thus, fewer maintenance trips to the shop, so in my mind, the maintenance cost is somewhat mitigated by the price I put on my time.

bsimoes | July 15, 2012

Yes, but I live more than five hours away from the nearest store--I don't even know if they do servicing there. Either I would have to pay for rangers, too, or I have to drive ten+ hours, assuming the car is driveable. I guess my point is that we should know these details now that cars are being delivered. We should know the plan for the Superchargers. We should know what the warentee says. Accepting that we don't is a little niave, when spending $90,000 IMHO.

murraypetera | July 15, 2012

Why should there be any fixed maint cost?

A new car should have almost $0 maint. In an ICE perhaps oil and other fluids but I have never had to pay a monthly maint cost for a car. My last new car a highlander hybrid has been all but maint free since 2006. Yes I get the standard service work done but this is almost 100% ICE issue. Timing belt, oil, (some recalls), filters, etc. but I can promis you excluding tyre's the cost is not near $600/year average. I have 135k on the car at this point.

I expect $0 maint cost for the first few years and then perhaps a few hundred at most after this. What is there break? In my ICE cars is is always sensors which involve the ICE motor O2 sensors, etc.

Timo | July 15, 2012

I agree with murraypetera, there should not be any fixed annual fee for maintenance jobs that do not exist. Tesla is selling enough cars that $600/year is not needed even for keeping rangers at work. I ask almost the same question: what is there to maintain? You might want to change cooling fluids at some point, but they should last well beyond one year. Same with brakes and other normal car stuff. If the car has something wrong in it it should warn the owner about the issue.

jerry3 | July 15, 2012

Assuming they do multiple software upgrades and monitor the vehicles, someone has to pay the programmers and the people who handle the alerts from the monitoring systems. $600 seems "high but bearable" if there really are frequent software updates (one every four to five weeks).

Timo | July 15, 2012

I would expect more like one every four to five years. One every four to five month is too many, and /week is way too many. We are not buying computer with buggy software that can cause security risks. If you are required to get that many software "updates" that frequently then there is something very very wrong into initial design of the system, and I would not touch that buggy car for any cost (except to immediately sell it with profit).

pilotSteve | July 15, 2012

The BMW 550 I purchased in 2006 (first year for that engine) came with 3 years of free maintenance. Dealer updated various software components three times (each event took 2-3 hours of shop time). Replaced several sets of wipers at no charge. Fixed minor rattles twice. No charge for any of this. This is what I would expect from Tesla.

Of course, the next three years of ownership had $1500 brakes, $1800 transmission oil pan, $150 oil changes x 3, etc. THATS where our real savings will be.

stevenmaifert | July 15, 2012

I also agree with murraypetera. It's been the same for my 2008 Camry Hybrid. Up until now, Tesla's client base has been fairly high on the economic food chain. As they work their way down with more affordable cars, the masses will be less inclined to want to pay $600 a year to maintain a car that is advertised as minimum maintenance. As for software updates, Microsoft charges us if we move up to a new operating system, but they don't charge us for the monthly update to the one we have. Solar City monitors my solar electric system in real time, but they don't charge me extra for that, it's factored into the price I paid for the system.

EdG | July 15, 2012

I'm assuming there will be almost no important (safety, etc.) software updates, but there will be a number of app or other nicety updates. As long as the Model S is being sold to new buyers, such updates will improve the as yet unsold cars and their value. I see the importance of such updates as a sales value at least as much as a maintenance value. Paying for the updated programming of same should be made by TM for future sales at least as much as by Model S owners.

If/when the Model S production is discontinued, would we expect any updates to the software? Perhaps there will be some minor changes needed, but the annual maintenance fee will likely go on without any significant hardware or software changes. So I see the annual maintenance charge as covering actual maintenance and some small (less than 1/2 the actual cost of) software support.

jerry3 | July 15, 2012

I'm thinking of upgrades such as apps, how the displays look, more setting for steering and suspension, manual updates, etc. rather than the software that actually controls the motors and chargers. Because there is just a lot of stuff and it has to be vetted carefully I think there will be frequent upgrades during the first two or three years.

Putting out many upgrades, each with a few changes, is less risky than putting out infrequent upgrades each with a host of changes.

mvbf | July 15, 2012

If I were Tesla, I would want my Model S customers happy as a clam with maintenance costs and satisfaction. Our ownership satisfaction will more than likely dictate Tesla's level of success. I would go so far as to subsidize these costs with sales profits for the sake of happy customers and a healthy future for the company. Few things things put frowns on drivers faces more than expensive, poor, slow, frequent repairs. Here's to hoping the bleeding edge does not have to bleed too much.

D Vo | July 15, 2012

We frequently hear about how "Connected" this car is. If so, then Software updates should be OTA, over the air.

jerry3 | July 15, 2012

Correct, as far as I know most software updates should be handled by WiFi. That still doesn't mean they don't cost in programmer time.

CurrieG | July 15, 2012

I was told about $200 every two years.

jerry3 | July 15, 2012

I sure hope you're right. That would be great.

Timo | July 15, 2012

$100 / year I can live with. 20000 x 600 = 12 million. You hire an army of programmers and technicians with that amount of money. Two million is a lot too, but more in line with what I would expect.

IMO paychecks and education for that part of the Tesla business should come from profits from selling cars, not in any annual pay. Parts and actual time used to check the car should be what is covered by "annual" maintenance fee. That should be about $100 / year (a lot less to check and change than ICE car).

Putting in other way to calculate: one hour of checking time for one man = 20000 / 8 cars/day = 2500 / 200 workdays/year = about 13 guys could handle one year worth of cars. Two million covers paychecks for about twice that many. There probably are quite a lot more than 13 rangers, but their paychecks should not come from this fee (again IMO).

EdG | July 15, 2012

@Timo: +1

Brian H | July 16, 2012

There's a lot more than Rangers' salaries in maintenance.

Also, it is notoriously non-continuous, "on demand" by necessity. There's all that Maytag Repair man waiting time that has to be paid for, too.

stephen.kamichik | July 16, 2012

Nobody is putting a gun to our heads requiring us to obtain unnecesary maintenance.

stevenmaifert | July 16, 2012

stephen - True, but I wouldn't be surprised to see TM require the annual maintenance as a condition of the four year warranty.

bsimoes | July 16, 2012

I called the California store yesterday and asked about the service schedule. I was told that once a year was what was required and that the cost would be somewhere between $200-$600.

Brian H | July 16, 2012

Heh. Face it, everyone's purchasing a Work In Progress to some extent. If that's offensive, or too scary, postpone and wait till enough dust has settled for your personal comfort level.

Rod and Barbara | July 16, 2012

+1 Brian H

BryanW | July 16, 2012

Maintenance for the Roadster is $600 a year, which I think gives a lot of people concern that it will carry over to the Model S. I'm really hoping they have a different process for the Model S than what currently exists for the Roadster. For the Roadster, it is not only the $600 but also round trip $1/mile for the ranger.

Given that the nearest, current, Tesla center is 500 miles from my home, I would not be paying $600 in required maintenance costs but $1600 a year in required maintenance costs. That pretty well wipes out any savings I would be seeing in fuel costs.

Granted, I think the Model S is a revolutionary car and a premium, "high end" vehicle, and I can't wait till mine arrives. However, if Tesla wants mass market adoption (as part of Elon's master plan), then I think they need to rework the total cost of ownership to have a better and more affordable service plan.

Brian H | July 16, 2012

Can you "pool" with other S-owners in the same general locale? "Cheaper by the dozen"!

EVforme | July 16, 2012

Tesla has created something original and so drastically different from the competitors. This has taken a great effort to formulate this beautiful machine. Through this development Tesla has repeatedly mentioned that the car needs minimal maintenance. I think the corporation would be sending the wrong message to its first and most important customers by nickel and diming us for maintenance. Compare it to a traditional ICE. Most new cars don't even require oil changes every 3000 miles anymore.

jkirkebo | July 16, 2012

Every 3000 miles ? Yikes. I'd never put up with that. We have a VW TDI and it monitors when it wants an oil change itself. Usually the interval is about 18000 miles, but it varies some, depending on how many cold starts done etc.

The TDI is out when the S arrives ;)

My5bAby | July 16, 2012

+1 Brian H

Remember what we are doing here. We have a Purpose !


Brian H | July 17, 2012

An old "mechanic's trick" to make an ICE engine last 300,000 miles was to change the oil every 1500 miles whether it needed it or not. Internal wear from 'slightly dirty' oil builds exponentially.

stephen.kamichik | July 17, 2012

The model S is advertised as requiring little maintenance. TM then says we must pay $600 per year in maintenance fees. This is a first adapter's (or first sucker's) fee. All other new cars have no maintenance or repair fees during the warranty period. This could be a deal breaker for me because I am not a millionaire, I am just your "average Joe".

The Canadian dollar is within 2% of the US dollar. If TM chooses to gouge Canadians (and other international customers), I will cancel my reservation.

ddruz | July 17, 2012

stephen.kamichi, Has it been confirmed that the annual maintenance cost will be $600? I thought this was an unconfirmed rumor and the $600 was based on the Roadster's annual cost.

Volker.Berlin | July 17, 2012

I thought this was an unconfirmed rumor and the $600 was based on the Roadster's annual cost. (ddruz)

Yes, that's exactly what it is at this point. The replies from various Tesla reps range from "$200 every two years" to "$600 every six months", which actually means that we have no information at all.

Steve_W | July 17, 2012

I was told at the DC event this past weekend that service would be once a year and would cost $600. Seems high, especially in view that cars from BMW and Caddy include service for (I believe) 4 years.
Also was told that cost for the wireless plan has not been determined, but you would be purchasing a data plan through Tesla, not ATT (or another carrier). They indicated they are in negotiations to purchase a hugh block of data from a carrier (which they would not identify), which they would then resell to individual owners in smaller blocks of data.

Brian H | July 17, 2012

Not familiar with that carrier. Who's hugh? Is he a huge competitor for ATT, etc?

Beaker | July 17, 2012

@Brian: "hugh" is a new wireless standard which is 100x times faster than 4G :) LOL

Steve_W | July 17, 2012

By "huge", I meant to indicate that the Tesla rep said Tesla would purchase a large amount of data per month (I think he indicated something like 2-3 TB of data/month), which they would resell to the car owner in smaller blocks (for example, 2GB per month).

Steve_W | July 17, 2012

Re: service, I only do what the manufacturer states to do, not what the dealer suggests. My 2005 Prius has 93K miles on it. I usually spend about 50 dollars for each service of the car (I use Mobil 1 oil). Every so often it is slightly more because of the air filter replacement and cabin air filter replacement.

The cost for service of my Lexus is a little strange. The first service was free. The second service was about 200 dollars. They did not charge for the third service but charged about 250 dollars for the fourth service. This car gets serviced evey 7500 miles.

My Mercedes sports car is a 2005 and has 17K miles (yes, I drive it very little, because of my eye problems I havent driven it since around October 2011). Service for this car is once a year or 1300o miles, which ever comes first (which is time for me). The car uses 8 quarts of 0W-50 Mobil 1 oil. The dealer charges about 500 dollars for the service, which in my case is basically an oil change and checking of fluid levels. While the car was under warranty, I took it to the dealer. When the warranty expired, I had the oil changed somewhere else for about 90 dollars.

Steve_W | July 17, 2012

One other thing, when I take my Lexus or Mercedes i for service to the dealer, they give me a similar type loaner car for free. Audi did this for me also when I owned an A4 and an A6, and Infiniti did this for me too. Anyone kn ow what Tesla plans to do?

jerry3 | July 17, 2012


If a Ranger does the service, you won't need a rental because he comes to you.
There hasn't been any stated policy on any of the service matters for Model S other than Elon saying in the shareholder meeting that it would be $50/month. However, it's not known if that was supposed to be official or just something he said. Basically, it's all supposition until someone gets a bill or Tesla publishes a chart.

Steve_W | July 17, 2012

Jerry3, two different Tesla reps at the DC event this past weekend told me that service for the Model S would be once a year and cost $600. However, they would not tell me what specific service was included in that cost, other than software updates. As for software updates, if they are to address issues with the car, they should be free, as they are for every other car on the road. If the software update is to add a new feature (such as, for example, adaptive cruise control), I can see charging for the update, assuming you want the new feature.
As to a Ranger doing the service, that is not free unless it is for a warranty repair. For regular service you will have to pay for the Ranger to come to your location. I think someone else posted that the cost for a Ranger is $1.00 for each mile that they have to drive. Not sure if that cost is based on the distance one-way or round trip.

jerry3 | July 17, 2012


The Ranger fee is round trip, not one way, and yes, it's not free except for warranty. There is also a $100 charge in addition to the mileage. Once there are enough Rangers that the distance doesn't cost you a fortune (e.g. 20 miles or so) it will be highly convenient.

Different folks have had different numbers for the annual maintenance from different Telsa folks, so it's still up in the air in my opinion until it's in writing.

Steve_W | July 17, 2012

Is the cost for service of the Roadster in writing? I have never purchased a vehicle where they told me in writing what the cost of service would be. I've always been given such info verbally.