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

archibaldcrane | September 11, 2012

Before this was announced, I asked at my local store the exact question:

"If I don't pay for yearly maintenance, can I still get software updates over-the-air? And will my car still be monitored for problems? And will I void the warranty if I don't get the yearly maintenance?"

The salesperson at the store said you will get updates regardless, your car will still be monitored, and the warranty is only voided if the car notifies you of a problem and you don't get it promptly fixed.

Honestly, in my opinion the only "routine maintenance" this car needs is tire rotation. Everyone on this forum will be tapped into the Model S community. If there is a part failure or recall we'll know. If one particular area is having wear and tear problems we'll know from other users. If you're nervous, but don't want to spend as much money - buy the car, get the tires rotated on your own dime, and pay your $600 around year 3 just to feel confident, get some new wipers, whatever.

It's not mandatory.

skystream3.7 | September 11, 2012

This all sounds fine if you drive 10,000 miles a year. The only problem is what if you drive 35,000- 40,000 a year. Are you paying $2400 for one year of service?

bennybenz | September 11, 2012

Tesla did itself a by releasing this service plan information without providing many important details. Maybe they can chime in and answer some of these questions to help quell some of people's worries over the service plan.

1.) Can you forgo the $600/year ($1900/4 years) service plan? And if you do, will this void the warranty?
2.) Can you still receive software updates and remote diagnostics without the service plan? Will this be at a cost? Will some updates be free regardless (bug fixes, promised upgrades)?
3.) What about those that drive more than 12,500 miles / year (or 50k miles / 4 years)? Can they add to the service plan and at what cost?
4.) What about service beyond the initial 4 years? Is routine inspection the same price per year?
5.) Are loaner cars offered to those that require maintenance?
6.) Does the service plan include the 3G data plan (presumably needed for remote diagnostic)?
7.) What is covered by the limited warranty?
8.) Can you extend the warranty beyond the 4 years / 50k miles? At what cost?
9.) What is the full service schedule for the lifetime of the car? Are there significant service costs that one should anticipate at higher mileage milestones?

skystream3.7 | September 11, 2012

These are great questions

archibaldcrane | September 11, 2012

1) Yes, No
2) Yes, No cost
3) Dunno, but I think people are wildly overestimating the amount of maintenance needed for this car.
4) I assume so
5) Not at this time
6) The first 1,000 cars will get a year of free data. Tesla is still negotiating for how they will handle data - whether you just add the Tesla as an authorized device on your current cell plan, whether there will be an exclusive data provider, etc.
7) Dunno
8) Dunno
9) I'd anticipate that the only major predictable cost will be eventual battery replacement

Wouldn't hurt to email that to your local Tesla rep and see what they say to confirm though. Post here to let us know.

Brian H | September 11, 2012

Just to repeat, there is no "free". Whack yourself upside the head anytime you use or think the word. Replace with "included" or "hidden".

pilotSteve | September 11, 2012

I'm not surprised (sigh) but mildly disappointed. Tesla has given up the simple, clean "EV has much lower cost of ownership" statement that buyers want to hear..... in exchange for a niggling "oh by the way you also need to buy" message.

BMW etc. all include this level of service with the base price. Diluting the lower cost of ownership by adding back in $600/year for basic service will turn out to be a BAD decision by Tesla imo.

Sure they are a startup and need the cash, but come on. Disappointed and bummed!

jed-99aggie | September 11, 2012

For me, like a few others here have said, the Models S is supposed to be an example of a car you use; not one that you are always thinking about the next service. Heck even in the annoucement blog it claims low maintenance and fewer part..

Reading through the summary of the service plan, I don't get what the value is.
* For anyone who can pump their own gas, swapping out your wipers should be doable. They are not that costly.
* Brakes, not likely in the first 50k with or without regen.
* Annual Inspection (is this the DMV safety inspection or only Tesla product quality assurance?)
* Roadside assistance - if you dont use AAA, also available @ $12/year from my auto insurance co.
* System monitoring, remote diagnostics - sounds nice, is Tesla saying cellular network connectivity is included? This could be what get me over the up 3G included.
* SW updates - why isn't this covered in the warranty at a very minimum?

Per my thoughts above, I fail to recognize the service Tesla is performing for the annual service fee? The thought that comes to mind is software industry annual maintenance; you have to pay for it whether you need it or not.
The annouement fails to cover relevant points such as: What happens if you forego the annual service for the warranty period? If you want the latest SW update do you have to true up on your skipped payments?

Perhaps Elon was too focused on inspecting recent builds and the Service division went rouge :)... I eagerly await some rational explanation of this SIGNIFICANT misstep of Telsa product/service strategy.

jat | September 11, 2012

I really don't see what the big deal is. Buy 4 years @ $2400 and you know that no matter what, no matter where you are, all you are spending is $600/yr in maintenance (outside of tires). In my Toyota Camry Hybrid, getting serviced at the dealer I spent an average of about $400/yr, and this is a much more expensive car. Sure, it could be cheaper, and it will have to be cheaper for the GenIII to sell, but early adopters are going to pay more.

If $600/yr really is the difference between affording it or not, you shouldn't be buying this expensive a car. Plus, as has been posted already, a lot of Roadster owners chose not to pay for regular maintenance without impact to their warranty.

skystream3.7 | September 11, 2012

it would be $600 a year if you drive 10,000-12,000 miles a year

ndt | September 11, 2012

@jat - it's clearly not about whether people can afford it. It's about whether they are getting value for service. This is an important thing to pay attention to whether you can barely afford one Model S or if you can sign for 25 without blinking. But yes, it's a different world stepping down from selling to the top 0.1% to the top 2%.

The unlimited Ranger service seems close to fair value to me, the regular service not so much.

BYT | September 11, 2012

This is the question I want answered...

4.) What about service beyond the initial 4 years? Is routine inspection the same price per year?

I plan on keeping my Model S a minimum of 12 to maybe a max of 18 years. If I keep paying $600 a year after the initial 4, does that extend the warranty and software updates as long as I make those payments? I would HAPPILY pay it for the reassurance if that was the case?

archibaldcrane | September 11, 2012

"But yes, it's a different world stepping down from selling to the top 0.1% to the top 2%."

Totally. This will be a major purchase for me (just into the 2%) and part of the way I'm justifying it is that over 100,000 miles, the fuel costs vs. an ICE make this car 10k cheaper in the long run.

If I'm paying $600/yr in maintenance over that time it nullifies a lot of that benefit. I know people claim their ICE cars are more expensive than that to maintain, but I've probably put about $1200 in maintenance into my car with 105k miles on it. Granted it's a Nissan Sentra, but still - not expensive to maintain.

I'll happily forgo the service - maybe do one every 3 years or so if I'm not alerted to problems. I can get tire rotations and windshield wipers on my own.

Timo | September 11, 2012

If Tesla is listening, I think the message is clear: maintenance cost is not worth the would be better service. If it costs that much people just plain don't use it. If Tesla tries to force people to use it, then it would be big enough blow to their reputation that they go belly-up in no time flat.

Volker.Berlin | September 12, 2012

Timo, it is not clear at all, and your conclusion is clearly an exaggeration. The real message isn't in the forum, it's in actual orders. After 5000 cars sold (i.e., considerably more than just the signatures), Tesla will have hard data whether or not customers appreciate their service plan.

My guess is they have a pretty good idea of their target audience, and it will all settle and work out nicely for the huge majority of that audience. A little uproar in the forums is nice and helpful from time to time, but don't confuse that with a "clear message".

loisascott | September 12, 2012

As Roadster owner, the service was worth it. The service checklist was front and 2/3 back of page - a long list (not all fluff "inspect" either. The warranty coverage has been fantastic. The overall rating of service people GREAT!

The Roadster service @ $600 was worth it to me.

Hopefully as the expand they continue to hire great people. I optimistic that they will continue to hire the great people.

This is very expensive purchase; by which I mean maintaining properly is important. As I compare to Audi, Acura, BMW, Lexus, MB, etc. All but BMW 3 yr/36K cost extra (yes, Audi only includes 1st service). The mnt service includes maybe filter. Certainly not brakes. Brakes alone on any of the brands mentioned cost big $$$ as mentioned by one post $1900 for Q7.

So I'm going to humbly disagree with others.
I will happily pay $1900 for 4 years.

okay, be gentle (no name calling) in response. ;)

Beaker | September 12, 2012

@loisascott +1
I'll pay the 2,400 up front and have Tesla come to me to maintain my baby in it's best form. I would rather have a potential problem detected & fixed before it becomes an issue that the Model S needs to to inform me of.

Sudre_ | September 12, 2012

Back when my current car's service package and warranty ran out a company sent me an offer to continue it for another x number of years/miles. I think you can find this kind of product for almost any car even Tesla.

I be getting the service package because I don't want to deal with any hassles. Since it sounds likes it pretty much means EVERYTHING will be covered except tires I think it is worth it because it's a new manufacturer.... warrantied item or not.

I know several people have already mentioned you do not have to get the car serviced and you do not have to purchase a service package. Tesla reps have said that if you see a warning light come on just get it serviced then. . . . at least I have read that. I don't think this is as big of a deal as people make it out to be. It is good however for people to voice their opinions here so Tesla get a feel for things.

jerry3 | September 13, 2012

If the $2400 really covered four years that would be okay with me, but I was planning on driving the Model S a lot. $1200 or $1800 per year is a lot--kind of eats up all the fuel savings.

ddruz | September 13, 2012

FWIW: I have owned my Leaf for a year now and have had a 6 month and 1 year service check. Total service costs for the year between the two bills were $277 before sales tax. Only routine service and software updates were completed and there were no problems with my car. Wiper blades have not been replaced as of yet. Extrapolating over 4 years this comes to $1108. If anything goes wrong with the car I expect total service costs to be higher.

In comparison, $1900 for 4 years of Model S service does not seem unreasonable given that it will include all wear and tear parts (except tire replacement) and labor, an in depth annual inspection plus new software items, not just software updates. As one who is stretching for this car I naturally wish Model S service were less expensive. But I have to admit the price is probably fair, at least in comparison to the Leaf.

[Also posted at TMC]

KeithE | September 13, 2012

Like many TSLA res holders I am disappointed in the service offering and think TSLA made a material misjudgment here. Not all Tesla buyers are signatures or roadsters $100k+ and for many this is an expensive purchase. TSLA should factor the maintenance cost into the price of the vehicle at half what they are asking currently. Audi offers Audicare which is $880 for a very similar level of coverage over 4yrs 45k miles for a luxury sport sedan like the S4. See their offering here. That is less than half the total cost. TSLA should be expanding the target buyers market by making it more affordable to ensure their success. I hope they reconsider and reduce the cost significantly or fear they may lose a lot of engaged buyers. For many buyers an additional 2400 is a lot of money and might be a deal breaker. It's one thing for them to raise the price in the future to that level if they can achieve overwhelming demand, say 100k cars, but they need to win the ev market first to make this work. This is a major miscalculation and I hope Elon is listening!

Alex K | September 14, 2012 | SEPTEMBER 13, 2012: FWIW: I have owned my Leaf for a year now and have had a 6 month and 1 year service check. Total service costs for the year between the two bills were $277 before sales tax. Only routine service and software updates were completed and there were no problems with my car. Wiper blades have not been replaced as of yet.

I have a Leaf for the same amount of time with similar services done and my total service costs have been $0. My dealer does not charge for service. I think it varies by dealer.

ddruz | September 14, 2012

Alex K--very interesting, thanks. I'm surprised your dealer does not even charge for labor for your check ups. It would be interesting to get a sampling around the country to see what other Nissan dealers charge for Leaf service. In my case at least Model S service is comparatively not far out of line. In yours it would be.

ndt | September 14, 2012

I paid $30 for my first yearly LEAF checkup. They performed two recalls, checked the battery, rotated the tires, and washed the car. I expect to pay about $500 / 4 years assuming the brake fluid replacements are actually necessary every 2 years.

Ddruz - it sounds like you fell prey to the up-sell.

mbcaffe | September 14, 2012

I noticed that Audi care does not include brake replacement. I admit that the regen brakes should last longer. however, when they do, the brembo brakes are expensive especially if the rotors need to be replaced. I am not an expert, however a friend paid $1500 a pair on his 350Z.

Sudre_ | September 14, 2012

I have not seen a service plan with "New features" included in the price. Before I purchase the service plan I will ask if that includes things like adaptive cruise. New software features will come with the automatic updates so it can't be those. Even if it just cover the labor for the new features and not the parts it will be a good price I think. If it does not include my definition of new features I just won't get the service package.

walla2 | September 14, 2012

This is a luxury car. We have had an Acura for years so this isnt a first. Costs for dealer maintenance for a luxury car are very high. Oil changes can be hundreds of dollars. Brakes even more. Tire rotation and alignment highly costly. I usually complain about everything, but the costs seem fair for medium to low mileage customers. I was expecting a ridiculous charge everytime. The one price plan is going with rangers is going to save me a ton of time (money) and money.

I do hope they will adapt the rules for high mileage customers. I think the lapse in not seeing that high mileage issue is due to the lack of high mileage roadster owners.

Slindell | September 14, 2012

Why are the annual maintenance costs so high? Because everyone else is paying for the people using Rangers. $100 barely covers a single hour of the technician's time.

jerry3 | September 15, 2012

This is a cross post. Ignore if you've read it before - j3

I think the model that Tesla is using isn't the same model that we car purchasers are used to seeing. That is, Telsa is selling a maintenance contract where they actually do maintenance (similar to an aerospace maintenance contract). The dealer's are selling service with a 29 nine point checklist--which means they make 29 checkmarks on a piece of paper in about thirty seconds and charge you for it*. Assuming that Tesla personnel actually inspect each item on the Model S (as shown in the Roadster service pictures) and replace parts that are questionable it's more than fair.

The plan with the Ranger service costs $0.05 cents per mile. This is about the same as the maintenance on the Prius (because I replace items such as water pumps before they break) and far less than the maintenance on the VW TDI ($0.22/mile). So although I would have been tickled pink to have it for $100 per year, that really wasn't a very realistic expectation. On the other hand, I think they should go back and think about changing it to an annual service regardless of miles or better yet base it on predictive maintenance. My thought is, that based on the comments in the forums, there will be far more Model S purchasers driving less than 12,000 miles/year than the few who drive more.

*And that's what they must do, otherwise you wouldn't have the service done, have everything check out okay, and then at the next service find that both pads and rotors require replacing. If a real inspection was performed they would tell you that the pads aren't going to last another service interval. You also wouldn't have to point out any problems (like leaky struts). I suspect they would notice if the engine was missing, but I'm not sure they would catch anything smaller.

SMOP | September 15, 2012

I am still trying to figure out how these prices are fair? There is no loaner car included in the price. People here are confusing Warranty with Maintenance. Most of the praise for Tesla has been the way they have handled warranty items. Being an individual who has a Roadster out of warranty I can assure you they do indeed nickle and dime once the vehicle is out of warranty.

The maintenance cost is borderline ridiculous, make no mistake Tesla Service is a profit center.

Volker.Berlin | September 15, 2012

I am still trying to figure out how these prices are fair? (SMOP)

I am still trying to figure out why those who think prices are unfair are so very upset. Disillusioned or maybe disappointed, yes that I can understand. But I don't get what this big uproar is about. Since service is not a prerequisite for the warranty to be valid, it's a free market. The choice is yours. If you think pricing is too much in favor of Tesla and unfair for you -- don't buy the service and simply fix the problems as they occur. If you are afraid of the unknown cost that may incur going that route -- then maybe Tesla's offer isn't so unfair after all?

Volker.Berlin | September 15, 2012

Edit: big uproarlamentation (seems to be the more adequate expression).

SMOP, just to be sure: I'm not addressing you personally. Your comments are measured and to the point, I want to be explicit that I am not criticizing what you say or how you say it. My comment was triggered by yours, but addresses the general gist of this thread.

sergiyz | September 15, 2012

The frustrating part is that we are still guessing what they are charging the $600 for.
Making the decision knowingly would eliminate that frustration.
I really hope there's a document that spells it all out.

Volker.Berlin | September 15, 2012

Making the decision knowingly would eliminate that frustration.
I really hope there's a document that spells it all out.

+1 but now worries. Of course it will be spelled out, and of course the marketing blurp doesn't cover all the details. It's been the same when prices and options were released. IIRC, it was a few weeks later that the Specs page was published, clarifying what exactly comes standard, i.e., what the paid options really mean.

Volker.Berlin | September 15, 2012

Edit: now worries!

SMOP | September 15, 2012


I am a long time multiple Tesla owner, I am aware of the way the service process works. I do not think that it is worth $600 for the Roadster (warranty dependent on service ) and I do not see how it is worth $600 on the Model S. If Tesla had been forthright and said "here is the deal with the Model S, service, whats included what is not, changes etc" prior to forcing me to lock in and lose 10k, I would be far more forgiving. I could cancel my reservation and move on. Right now I am 10k hard money, that I will lose if I cancel. So now what? Is this the way a reputable company behaves? Tesla has me wrapped right now and I really cannot do anything about it. The poor business practices is what annoys me. No legitimate company would treat customers in this manner (i.e. locking in customers then releasing changes and information after locked in).

Brian H | September 15, 2012

SMOP = smoothoperator?

"The maintenance cost is borderline ridiculous, make no mistake Tesla Service is a profit center."

I think this is a borderline ridiculous statement, and will ultimately (soon?) be shown as such.

SMOP | September 15, 2012

Brian H

Do you have firsthand experience with Tesla Service? If yes what about Tesla Service out of warranty? I can show you firsthand from my invoices the difference between the two.

Please advise.

Best Regards,

Smoothoperator aka SMOP (Forum messed up and had to change name)

sergiyz | September 15, 2012

I won't make any conclusions until I see an agreement in writing, both warranty and service.
I've asked for one, we'll see what TM says.

loisascott | September 16, 2012

@KeithE; Audi care you point out is not comparable. You pay for everything brakes, wipers, etc (see footnote 2). Audi includes oil, oil filter, air filter and fluids (oh and spark plugs ;)).

what's included "Replacement parts like brake pads and windshield wipers (excluding tires)". I intend to hold them to that. I pay for tires; they pay for all else. You are right, docs tell all.

As said early; others are more like "annual inspection" and Tesla offering more of "annual maintenance" more typical of complete care for you laptop like offered by Apple or Dell.

Volker.Berlin | September 17, 2012

Some more details explained here (by GeorgeB):
(Thanks to ddruz for providing this link in the other thread!)

Volker.Berlin | September 17, 2012

The same link Clickable! (Or so I hope...)

mbcaffe | September 17, 2012

thank you the GB link. it helps clarify a few things. Also IMHO, the $600 annual maintenence fee is fair or pretty close to fair, especaill when compared to other manfacturers. I believe the only one that includes maintenance for "free" is BMW. A friend just purchased an Audi A& and maintenance is not included. The audi care is about $250-$300/year and does not include brakes or wheel alignment. just my opinion.

ChasF | September 17, 2012

Just because I haven't see anyone else quantify the brakes, figured I'd take a stab:

I replace pads about every 30K miles on my ICE. Because of the regen on Model S, I would expect the pads to last about 100K (just a guess). That pretty much makes brake replacement a non-factor wrt this discussion, IMHO.

Wheel alignments? Now that's another story....

SMOP | September 17, 2012

Well the $600 is required to keep your car warranty intact. Tesla will do whatever service they deem is necessary. So basically there is no warranty on the Model S if you do not pay the $600. That is a first for a car company

mlascano | September 17, 2012

I posted this on TMC in reply to George B's post.
Any thoughts? If "New Features" means no cost retrofitting of adaptive cruise control, etc. then I think the Service Agreement is well worth it.

Thanks GeorgeB for your very detailed post, timely and clear as always. It does help me refocus after the many questions raised since Joost's blog.

As you point out, the "New Features" portion of the blog seems to have gone under the radar and it's still unclear to me what later additions will fall under this category. If, say, motorized side mirrors, front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control (just to name a few) become options for Model S 2.0 in 2014, will my Model S 1.0 be retrofitted with these at no cost to me (having the service agreement, of course)?

If this is so, then the Service Agreement with Tesla has a huge plus that needs to be played up. What these "New Features" are is probably an unknown (other than creep) but it would be of great benefit to those undecided on going with vs. skipping the service agreement to get a better sense on what future feature may (or may not) fall in this bucket.

Alex K | September 17, 2012

@mlascano | SEPTEMBER 17, 2012: Any thoughts? If "New Features" means no cost retrofitting of adaptive cruise control, etc. then I think the Service Agreement is well worth it.

From the tone of George B's post, I would suspect that "New Features" is referring to mostly software features. At least that's the kind of feature (creep mode) he was using as an example.

NielsChr | September 17, 2012

I find it spot on, neither to high or low.
Its a newly developed car by a "newly" created car compagny, we who is buying this car knows that there is a risk of having a car witch might have some minor faults as time goes by.... having a maintanaince plan inkluding all parts will inshure that there will never be any discusions about replacing it - e.g. if after 2 years the rubber start aging some where.
I find 600$/year just fine, if you choise the 1900$/4year its "only" 475$/year.

archibaldcrane | September 17, 2012

Posted by SMOP

"Well the $600 is required to keep your car warranty intact. Tesla will do whatever service they deem is necessary. So basically there is no warranty on the Model S if you do not pay the $600. That is a first for a car company"

*citation needed

Who told you this? I've been told the exact opposite by multiple Tesla reps. If you're just guessing, I'd suggest actually asking before spreading false information. The annual maintenance is NOT required to keep your warranty valid.

jerry3 | September 17, 2012