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 17, 2012

Well shit, contrary to what multiple Tesla reps have told me, George B's post here

Says that not getting your yearly maintenance does void the warranty.


dtesla | September 17, 2012

When I talked to my Tesla Rep this weekend about the service plan they told me the plan was optional... like all car manufactures. You are required to have the car inspected once a year to maintain you warrantee... like all car manufactures. My Prius is required to be inspected (yes, 4 items to be inspected) + service items every 5K miles or 6 months. So if I don’t change my oil the engine is not covered by the warrantee. Since the Tesla has no annual service items (that I know of) you are left only with an inspection (1 year or 12.5K miles). The inspection does not have to be done by Tesla… only a Tesla qualified person. So for the next few years that probably means Tesla.

So your two options are pay as you go or prepay… like all car manufactures. The annual inspection on the pay as you go plan will be $100-$200 per inspection (Tesla Rep’s best guess, but I felt they had no real idea of what it really would be) and you pay extra for all non warrantee items they find needs fixing. Or you pay $600 per year (think insurance payment) and they fix all non-warrantee items (except tires), 24/7 roadside assistance, etc. They will even come to your home to inspect/fix your model S for 4 years “for free” (for only $500 extra).

The only real question is: In your opinion is it worth the money. The choice is yours. Normally I like pay as you go plan (it has always saves me money in the long run). But in this case, since Model S is Tesla’s first production car…. I’m thinking 4 year insurance contract (excuse me service contract) with prepaid Rangers.

jerry3 | September 17, 2012


Except that with other manufacturers you can do the scheduled service at a place of your choosing or you can do it yourself. You can't do this with a Model S.

Sudre_ | September 17, 2012

Now it is a little more clear.

New Features is just software updates that Tesla decides to include... obviously Navigation, for example, is not going to be included even though it would be a new feature for me so I don't see any use out of that part of the deal. Except for Creep does anyone know what other NEW features would be added to the computer? Everything that I can think of that would be useful would require a minimal amount of hardware. If new features is everything except features that you buy in an option package then I don't see there being very many new features. Time will tell.

I still think the 50K miles package without the Ranger service is a good buy. Someone check my math...
4 years and 4 services 1900/4=$475 per year plus $100 for ranger is $575
4 years and 4 services 2400/4=$600 per year including Ranger visit.

Although I like the plan I can see why people have issue with the required purchase of maintenance from the dealer to maintain the warranty. With the quantity of purchases that will be happening this will play out in a class-action lawsuit. I don't know what the outcome will be since I think Tesla can require the service be done by a factory certified person. I would think that if a mechanic gets certified or quits Tesla to open his own inspection shop they may have a legal issue.

Time will tell... I plan on happily purchasing the $1900 plan.

dtesla | September 17, 2012


Tesla requires certified mechanics... the same as any other manufacturer. Right now the only place to find them is at a Tesla service center. When Tesla is making 500K+ cars per year we should see non-Tesla certified mechanics. Until then we have a specialty cars and that's life (I don't like it either but that's life).

An example, I had a problem with the hybrid system on my car (My Honda Civic hybrid.. not my Toyota Prius hybrid). My local mechanic, who has done all the other maintenance on my cars, told me he was not certified to work on hybrid systems and I needed to go to the dealer for the repair. So I did.

As for doing maintenance yourself. It's your car. Do with it as you want. During the warranty period Tesla will do all the work on my car (and the inspection to maintain that warranty)... just like all my other new cars.

Personally I enjoy working on cars so after the warranty is up I plan to do minor maintenance/repairs on my Model S. But batteries, motors, and electronics are way off base for me. Hopefully Tesla will release shop manuals for the Model S.

Carmine | September 17, 2012

Although I don't plan selling my S in 4 years, but to cover all bases, does anyone know if the Tesla 4 year maintenance agreement is transferable to a new owner?

sergiyz | September 17, 2012

This looks like hidden support fee since you can't really do without it (it voids the warranty).
Considering tires last about 15,000 miles, you won't need tire rotation or alignment other than when replacing your tires.
Break pads ?
Those don't need replacement until 30,000+ miles.
When you replace them, you can replace the fluid as well.
Instead of making it a scheduled maintenance with different pricing based on service they've just made it a flat $600 a year.
It's closer to computer/software support licensing than to cars.
Will see how well this works, certainly something unique in the industry...

toto_48313 | September 18, 2012

@ Carmine

I asked the transfer question to my Tesla advisor, and he confirm that the 4 year pre-paid plan will be transferable to any new owner of the car.

Crow | September 18, 2012

The difference between this plan and traditional manufacturers is that only Tesla techs are qualified to work on the car so you have to take it to them. It's no big deal.

stephen.kamichik | September 18, 2012

Essentially the model S comes with a one-year warranty. Consider the maintenance plan as an extended warranty.

stephen.kamichik | September 18, 2012

Electronic and electric components that fail will do so well within the first year.

Sudre_ | September 18, 2012

I have had to replace a Toshiba frequency drive after about a year and a half to two years because of heat sink failure so, "Electronic and electric components that fail will do so well within the first year", is not a true statement. This is more than a laptop computer.

stevenmaifert | September 18, 2012

The flux-capacitor in my DeLorean failed after only a year and a half. I was stuck in the 80s for twelve years. I really hate Wham. I bought the maintenance plan, but the company went out of business so I was SOL :)

Like it or not, Model S will be expensive to own and maintain. We still don't know what the data plans will cost or the cost to use the Superchargers, but we should be prepared for sticker shock there too. My biggest heartburn with Tesla is that these additional costs of ownership weren't disclosed before so many of us executed MVPAs. Might have made a difference for some.

stephen.kamichik | September 18, 2012

Sudre.......It is RARE for electronic and electrical components to fail after more than a year.

jerry3 | September 18, 2012

dtesla -- Tesla requires certified mechanics... the same as any other manufacturer.

Well, no. Toyota has a chapter in the owners manual detailing how to do the maintenance. They even have this for the new RAV4-EV--including checking the Tesla battery fluids and adding to them if they are low. There are some things you wouldn't want to do yourself (unless you're qualified) and some things require the diagnostic or other equipment (which gets expensive), but many items can be done by anyone who's handy and has a decent set of tools.

sergiyz | September 18, 2012

apparently you've never owned a bmw ;)

it doesn't matter what fails when while you have warranty coverage, that is 4 years or 50,000 miles except for the battery that has an 8y warranty.
I don't understand why I have to pay $600 regardless, for some service I may never actually need.
The whole purpose of warranty is that you don't pay for repairs due to manufacturing defects while warranty is in effect.
I'm being essentially sold warranty coverage for extra money although warranty is advertised as something that comes with the car.
If I don't pay $600 a year to service a car, I void the warranty, so it's a paid warranty service, something entirely new.
What if I drive over 12,500 miles a year ?
Does that mean I have to pay at least $1,200 in extra fees that were not disclosed previously ?
And why does it cost $600 per visit ?
I haven't seen this before.
You pay for the service that is due and you barely have to do anything on an ICE car the first year...
Even a very expensive oil change twice a year with the standard checklist and topping off other fluids will still be under $300 on a similarly (to Tesla S) priced car.
I think this will be damaging to Tesla and the EV market as a whole, since the "it's cheap to service" concept is no longer true.
I really hope they know what they are doing.
This is not a roadster (~2,500 sold altogether?), this was supposed to be a mass produced car.

Brian H | September 18, 2012

GB says the servicing is precautionary, to ensure problems don't cascade into major issues/failures. Remember they have essentially zero history to go on, and MUST catch any problems as early as possible.

sergiyz | September 18, 2012

The first service is not due for at least a year.
How does that help to catch problems early ?

Brian H | September 18, 2012

Early enough, earlier than, e.g., 3 or 4 yrs without inspection/service.

sergiyz | September 18, 2012

$600 seems like a lot of money considering the replacements should be covered under warranty anyway.
$600 for looking at the car and figuring out what needs to be replaced is a bit much in my opinion.
Consumables like break pads don't cost this much to replace over 4 years.
Heck, you probably need to replace them once if at all in 4 years.
That leaves tire rotation and alignment that I don't think is necessary once a year, not the alignment at least.
Perf tires don't last that long either, so you'll be replacing them every two years or so anyway.
I don't think this service model is a good sell for most people.

Brian H | September 18, 2012

True, it won't be a "good sell" up front. But I think TM had to do this. The car is not just a re-shuffle of existing ICE techs or parts. It is substantially new, = unknown wrt real-life use.

Roadster owners seem to be impressed enough with the "extra mile" service approach that I have seen few or no complaints about value received for $600/annum. S owners are a different bunch, but a year or two should see enough "eating" to proof the pudding (determine whether it's a masterpiece or mess).

Schlermie | September 18, 2012

Does Tesla have a way to individually inspect the integrity of each battery cell? If they'll inspect and replace individual faulty cells, that's a unique value you probably won't find just anywhere.

Timo | September 18, 2012


Sudre.......It is RARE for electronic and electrical components to fail after more than a year.

A big part of this car is computer system. If you mean that it is rare that something under warranty that didn't fail pretty much immediately (manufacturing flaw of some sort) fails after first year, then that is true, but it is also true that after about five years you start to need replacement parts for the components. Fans, SSD drives, capacitors that dry out etc. all start to be old by then (in standard computers many of the electrolyte capacitors are deliberately timed to fail after about five years in normal use. Seriously). Tesla might have used a bit more robust parts than most common computers, but I still think you will need some new parts after just few years.

Good thing is that computer electronics are cheaper than toilet paper (when you don't need huge computing power), and replacing them is easy task (if the guy doing it knows what he is doing) so replacement parts should not cost much. The guy that does it probably does cost couple of bucks more than average car mechanic.

sergiyz | September 19, 2012

The battery is technically not serviceable, but they can replace what they call "bricks" (a set of cells, fairly large).
It's not down to an individual cell.
The 85kw battery has 8y unlimited mileage warranty, so that's probably the least of our worries

sergiyz | September 19, 2012

@Brian H

I've received full warranty agreement from TM as well as an explanation on why they think $600 a year (or 12,000 miles) makes sense.
Their thinking is that for ICE cars the maintenance cost grows exponentially after 3 years, e.g you pay almost nothing the first 3 years, but then it goes up to almost $5,000 a year.
I don't know how they arrived to these numbers, they have a comparison table for multiple brands.
Assuming these numbers are correct it makes economical sense for us (buyers) only if you keep the car for at least 4 years, since this is where you supposedly start saving money comparing to ICE.
If you're planning to keep the car for at least 4 years it also makes sense to purchase a 4y maintenance plan since it saves you $500.
If you're keeping the car for less than 4 years you're overpaying for service, it will be (much) more expensive than most of tesla s ICE competitors.
They do have a point, flat fee makes it predictable, but I don't necessarily like the prediction ;)
Nothning prevents them from changing the pricing either unless you lock them in by buying a multi-year service.

Steve841 | September 19, 2012

The only thing about this that has made the required service palatable is learning that the Tesla store in Dania (Miami) is converting to a permanent Service Center .... rather than moving to the sales location in Miami Beach.

Not that anyone cares ... but its only 10 miles away.

Brian H | September 19, 2012

Interesting comparison.
The main b/g factor to consider IMO is uncertainty: the tech and equipment comprising an ICE car is pretty well known and predictable; not too many unknowns or surprises. But Tesla's tech is radically different, its durability and service requirements unclear. The emphasis for TM is on acquiring that knowledge, and watching the early years very closely.

In theory, TM's tech is more robust, and should degrade much less with time. But it is more vulnerable to the unknown in the first years. The upshot is that TM must catch problems in the early stages to develop suitable fixes and changes as needed.

Teoatawki | September 19, 2012

@Brian H: The upshot is that TM must catch problems in the early stages to develop suitable fixes and changes as needed.

I totally agree, which makes it such a mystery to me why they haven't rolled it into the vehicle cost, or made it much cheaper, like $100 annually.

Robert22 | September 19, 2012

Agree the x factor is pretty large with version 1 despite extensive testing. This is like the first space shuttle launch, expensive events CAN happen. It's probably prudent to be covered to the gills (or wait a year for real world info). I'd be pretty ticked if I was a stockholder. Once the general public digests it, good luck with those sales targets.

sergiyz | September 20, 2012


I agree, I'd rather make it more "traditional" so it's easier for people to digest.
While TM are being pretty transparent explaining the logic behind their decision, the psychological factor is hard to discount.
"I have to pay $600 a year for something I thought was maintenance free or much cheaper than my ICE car ???"
Given that they are charging a premium for cars already, they could have added maintenance for free like their competitors do (take bmw, for instance).
They are excited about the initial demand, but let's face it, the current buyers are just nuts ;)
Once TM runs out of such loyal customers, they will have to get those sales numbers from somewhere, and service cost will be a factor for sure.
As a shareholder, I'd be concerned.

Norbert.Vienna | September 20, 2012

bring it to the point $ 50/ month is this the big issue

ColonyGolfer | September 20, 2012

I for one, would like to see a clause in the 4 year "service contract" that gaurantees a buyer a rebate to any future reduced price offered to subsequent buyers. 2 years from now, when the novelty and hoopla has died down, you may find TM needing to go service-free on the Model S as a marketing tool to compete with BMW, and others.

petero | September 20, 2012

Stevenmaifert. “The flux-capacitor in my DeLorean …” That was a priceless bit of humor that I shall enjoy for some time. Thank you.

MandL | September 20, 2012

It's funny how so many people seem to think the comparison of Tesla to Apple is a great and positive thing in so many other cases, but not in this one.

You can buy an iPhone for $600 and then have the privilege of paying for a mandatory $30 data plan from AT&T. Or you can buy a functionally equivalent Android phone for $149 and activate it for voice only service from your carrier, waiting for wifi to be able to use data features.

I definitely didn't count on the extra $50/mo, but I'm going to look at the bright side and consider pre-paid ranger service done at the office or at home to be an extra advantage (and expense) of being a new-tech early adopter. It's much easier for me to justify $600/year for that than $450/year only to suffer the same inconvenience traditional car maintenance requires.

I had an early iPhone. Have since gotten over it and have a much better deal on what I consider to be a far superior phone. I'm going to love my Signature S and it's likely in 5 years there will be a other options from various manufacturers that make more sense to me for the next car.

Peter Spirgel | September 20, 2012

As I Signature reservation holder, I think my problem with the service plan is I feel Tesla is making a strategic mistake. They are a new car company with a revolutionary new product. Tesla's early customers, a/k/a "early adopters" are taking a big risk - that the product is reliable and that Tesla stays in business. When a new company enters a competitive market - such as the automobile market - they need to create confidence in the quality of their product. I expected Tesla to reward early adopters with comprehensive coverage as a way of signaling to the market that they have confidence in their product. Look at Hyundai's success at penetrating the US market. They marketed their cars with comprehensive warranties that they touted as the best in the industry. This sent a clear message that they had confidence in the quality and reliability of their products and gave early adopters the confidence to take the plunge and buy their product. True, Tesla has had success attracting early adopters - like me!; however, I think they could have sent a better message to their most loyal customers - that their faith in the company was rewarded and also sent a message to the skeptics that they (Tesla) were confident in the quality of their product. Instead, what amounts to "requiring" its first customers to purchase a maintenance plan to maintain a relatively short (in duration) warranty is, IMO a bad strategy.

skystream3.7 | September 20, 2012


Volker.Berlin | September 20, 2012

When a new company enters a competitive market - such as the automobile market - they need to create confidence in the quality of their product. (Peter Spirgel)

+1. How does $600 flat (all work and material included, except tires) sound for a start? Combine that with 8 years/unlimited mileage warranty for the battery (85kWh). If that isn't confidence-inspiring, what is?

Timo | September 20, 2012

$600 flat indicates that Tesla is expecting cars to be failing all over the place so that you actually need to pay this much money to make fixing it profitable.

Peter Spirgel | September 20, 2012


In response to your question, when I bought my last car, a Mercedes S500, (for less than the cost of my future Tesla) it came with 4 years of bumper-to-bunper coverage - everything including the wiper blades. That's Mercedes! - a brand that does not need to address concerns about new technology working, long-term reliability or about the company surviving long-term. Again, I suggest the focus on the $600 is secondary. Rather, Tesla's mistake is not making a statement that our revolutionary product - unlike a fossil fuel burning vehicle - is going to be so reliable and will require much less maintenance than other cars (something they have touted) that comprehensive coverage for ANYTHING that fails is INCLUDED in the price. All we ask is that you let us inspect it once a year. That, IMO, would have sent a strong statement to the automotive consumers, press and the competition. I'm simply contending that Tesla missed the opportunity to send this message.

prash.saka | September 20, 2012

+1 Peter Spirgel.

I like the Hyundai comparison.

Another similar story is about Lexus US launch. Just read how the the company treated their first few customers. May be, such customer appreciation is a Japanese/Korean thing!

I feel that $600 is a bit on the expensive side. And, as a result, we are downgrading our Model S from 230 mile to 160 mile battery pack. We weren't going to use the supercharger anyway, especially if we can use it for 2 or 3 times an year.

For me, it appears as if the maintenance is for Tesla's benefit and not the owners' or the cars'. I guess Tesla, understandably, wants to know everything about every car at regular intervals. And hence, this annual checkup. The idea of doing it at owners' expense may not be such a good one. I can certainly see their side; setting up service centers is a huge expense. But, goodwill from early adopters too is important.

~ Prash.

James13 | September 20, 2012

Prash - the 60kWh battery has full Supercharger access, as with the 85kWh. So good news there. Suggest perhaps you buy the 4 years service for 475/year and not worry about your S for 50,000 miles.

James13 | September 20, 2012

Also agree with Peter:
"Tesla's mistake is not making a statement that our revolutionary product - unlike a fossil fuel burning vehicle - is going to be so reliable and will require much less maintenance than other cars (something they have touted) that comprehensive coverage for ANYTHING that fails is INCLUDED in the price. All we ask is that you let us inspect it once a year. That, IMO, would have sent a strong statement to the automotive consumers, press and the competition."

What they wanted to do was to include the service in the price as Mercedes does (nothing is free, mind you), and that would have looked sweet. As Peter notes.

Volker.Berlin | September 20, 2012

What they wanted to do was to include the service in the price as Mercedes does (nothing is free, mind you) (James13)

They had committed themselves to offer the base version at $50k early on (almost 3 years before detailed pricing and options was published). I have suggested earlier that this may have been part of the reason why some features that were originally expected to come standard (although technically not promised) were apparently moved to become paid options -- so that they could deliver on their $50k commitment. Similar considerations may have been part of the decision to charge an explicit, "transparent" fee for maintenance.

SMOP | September 20, 2012

This service model is the biggest drawback of not having independently owned and operated dealerships. Tesla can charge whatever they want for service because they have a monopoly. How is this better than a free market concept where dealerships are competing for your business? I would rather see a traditional dealer/service model, as it will end up being a better deal for the consumer.

Tesla should really release service documentation, manuals, tools so that people have a choice. I have a feeling this will all change with the SMART and Rav4 EV.

prash.saka | September 20, 2012

@James13, you are right about the supercharger access. But, based on what I read here, it is not recommended to use a supercharger for more than 3 or 4 times in one year. This means, that it rules out any trips longer than 100 miles (just to be on the safe side).

The only long drives that we take are from Boston to Maine, which wouldn't need supercharging and from Boston to Philadelphia, which needs more than 4 supercharging per trip.

So, we will go with the 160 mile version and rent a car as needed.

Also, as we are stretching the budget very thin to get this car, we will have to go with the yearly plan.

~ Prash.

Brian H | September 20, 2012

In practice, dealerships overcharge grossly for service, whether required or incidental. I think about 2007 was when the % profit from car sales (at dealers) dropped below 0, and they became pretty much totally dependent on service gouging.

Brian H | September 20, 2012

Clarification: the % of dealer profits coming from actual sales dropped below 0 (overheads exceeded sales margins).

Teoatawki | September 21, 2012

"You can always tell who the pioneers are because they have arrows in their back and are lying face down in the dirt."
-- Source unknown.

Or is it more like a knife?

Teoatawki | September 21, 2012

Prash, James13;

Also, I wouldn't make decisions based on the rumors about recommended supercharging frequency, especially when we are only a few days away from reliable information.

SMOP | September 21, 2012

@Brian H,

Certainly this may be true for some brands/dealerships, but it cannot be applied to all brands/dealerships. With the Rav4EV (basically the same powertrain as the S40) do you think i twill cost $600/mo to maintain? When I get my S I plan on taking it to the Toyota dealer to get serviced. These Rav4EV techs have to be Tesla Certified as the powertrain is very similar.