Teslas are built very differently to standard gasoline-powered vehicles, requiring different levels of maintenance and servicing as well as a different level of expertise to work on them. This difference has left many wondering whether Teslas need their oil changed in the same way as regular cars.
Teslas do not need oil changes like gasoline-powered vehicles require. This is because they do not have internal combustion engines with multiple moving parts that need lubrication. Teslas do have fluid in other areas of the car, such as the brakes and in the transmission area.
Teslas also have non-degrading grease situated within the car that takes away the need for constant maintenance that you would experience with a standard gas-powered car. In this article we will discuss the fluids that Teslas need, as well as highlighting the cost of maintenance.
Do Teslas Need Oil?
Tesla cars do not need oil in the same sense as standard gasoline-powered cars as they don’t have an internal combustion engine requiring lubrication. However, there are other parts of Tesla cars that do require lubrication, such as the gearbox system. Even this oil isn’t the same type that you would normally find in a car, as it is synthetic and won’t require changing over time.
Why Do Fuel-Powered Cars Need Oil?
Standard fuel-powered cars require the use of oil to help keep the engine cool, clean, and lubricated, reducing friction in the engine’s moving parts. As internal combustion engines emit fumes, they break this oil down over time, meaning it needs regular changing. This ensures that the car will be able to keep running smoothly, and not be vulnerable to long-term damage.
Teslas don’t emit toxic fumes as they are not powered by an internal combustion engine, and instead require the use of batteries to run. These batteries power motors inside the car which have fewer moving parts. Tesla relies on a grease solution to lubricate these moving parts in all their models. This grease doesn’t degrade over time, meaning it won’t need to be changed like standard car oil.
What Fluids Do Teslas Need?
Teslas use a brake fluid called DOT 3 to keep the moving parts in the brakes functioning correctly. This fluid does not need to be changed every year, as Tesla recommend only checking the fluid if an issue arises. Aside from the Model S, Tesla cars don’t require the use of transmission fluid.
The Model S uses Dexron IV, which requires changing after the first year of use, or after driving 12,500 miles (20,000 km). It can then be left as it is until year five of owning the car, and then again in year nine. The fluid itself is cheap, costing around $10, but you will likely have to pay extra to get it put into the car, as the entrance can only be accessed by Tesla engineers.
The small number of moving parts inside the gearbox of a Tesla, in addition to the lack of fumes being emitted from the car, means that the liquid used to lubricate the gearbox is unlikely to ever need maintenance. This fluid would not be assessed if you were to take your car into a Tesla garage as they do not class it in the same bracket as the other fluids used in their cars.
Another fluid that also won’t require any maintenance is the battery coolant fluid. Tesla use a liquid known as G-48 Ethylene-Glycol as their battery coolant. If you do notice a problem with the battery coolant, Tesla are keen to stress that you should not try to replace it by yourself and instead get in contact with them immediately.
Windscreen Washer Fluid
Windscreen washer fluid is the only fluid in a Tesla that you can top up yourself. The reservoir is located under the car’s hood and can be filled up with any appropriate windscreen washer solution. The process for filling up a Tesla’s windscreen washer fluid is similar to that of filling up windscreen washer liquid in a regular vehicle.
What Parts Of A Tesla Need Maintenance?
While Teslas may not need the same levels of maintenance as standard fuel-powered cars, they do still require some alterations to be made every so often. This maintenance will ensure the car will perform to its maximum, while also keeping you safe and extending the longevity of the vehicle.
Brake Pads & Fluid
Understandably, brakes are high on the priority list for maintenance. The brake pads on Teslas are very good when it comes to longevity, as their regenerative braking system helps to prevent premature wear and tear. If a driver applies less pressure to the accelerator pedal, the Tesla’s regeneration system will automatically apply, reducing the need to apply pressure to the brakes.
This system extends the lifespan of the brake pads, meaning they won’t require much regular maintenance. However, the brake fluid will need the occasional service, as it can become contaminated over time, making it less reliable and effective. It is recommended that you get the brake fluid in your Tesla changed every two years to prevent any issues.
Cabin Air Filter & HEPA Filter
Tesla cabin air filters prevent dust, pollen, and other particles from entering the cabin area of the car. These aren’t just important for your safety, but also for your comfort while driving. When Tesla cabin air filters start to decline, your car may begin to smell musty and unpleasant. Tesla recommend that you replace the cabin air filter every three years, or if the cabin does start to smell.
Some Tesla models, particularly newer ones, will have HEPA filters installed. These HEPA filters are very effective and will prevent 99.97% of unwanted particles such as smoke, pollen, and dust from entering the cabin. Tesla recommend that you get the HEPA filter serviced every three years to ensure that it is still working effectively.
Tesla recommend that you get your car’s tires rotated or changed every 10,000 km (6200 miles), or if the tire tread depth distance hits the 2/32 inch mark. While Teslas and standard cars don’t share a great deal of their technology, Teslas still use the same rubber tires that you would see on a normal car. This means they will inevitably experience some degradation over time, requiring maintenance.
It is also important that you keep on top of your Tesla’s wheel alignment. If ignored, it can affect your car’s braking, handling, and steering. Tesla have no official recommendation as to when you should get this checked, so it would be advised to ask one of the engineers about it next time you are at a Tesla garage.
Brake calipers are responsible for squeezing the brake pads against the rotor to stop the wheel from spinning. These will need cleaning and lubricating every 20,000 km (12,500 miles), or once a year. If you live in a colder part of the world, where roads are regularly salted, then you may need this maintenance to be undertaken a little more regularly.
KEY POINTS• Teslas do not need oil changes
• They do require some maintenance, but not as much as gasoline vehicles
• They still require brake and windshield wiper fluid, and the Model S needs transmission fluid
Tesla vs Gas Car Maintenance Requirements
|Spark Plug Replacement
They may appear to cost more up-front, but electric cars are both cheaper and easier to maintain than their gasoline-powered counterparts. In fact, aside from them sharing the same tires, the two have very little in common when it comes to maintenance. Electric vehicle owners in general don’t have to worry about keeping their engine in good condition or changing its oil.
Those who drive internal combustion engine (ICE) powered cars will know all about having to change the engine oil. After all, it is this fluid that keeps the engine’s internal parts lubricated and cool, preventing friction and overheating. As Teslas and other electric vehicle brands rely on battery power to run, there is no need to change any sort of engine oil.
Most of the lubricating liquids that Teslas do require don’t break down within the car, and therefore won’t need changing. Tesla owners will have to – infrequently – have their brake fluid serviced, as it can become contaminated over time. Compared to the biannual changing of engine oils in a gasoline-powered car, this makes Teslas relatively effort-free for maintenance.
Fuel Tank Servicing
When you put gasoline into a car, the fuel tank will eventually need servicing to eliminate an inevitable build-up of grime and dirt. Fuel tanks may require a clean once every few years, as they are easily contaminated. Thankfully for Tesla owners, filling up with electricity doesn’t have the same effect, and unless an issue with the electrics appears, there is no need for servicing.
Remote Software Updates
The cutting-edge technology that is implemented into Tesla cars means that the car can update itself remotely via Tesla software patches. This reduces the number of times you’ll have to visit a service center, as most issues with Teslas can be solved without having to leave the house. This isn’t the case for gas-powered cars, which require in-person visits to the garage to solve problems.
The battery is the largest single component of a Tesla, weighing considerably more than a standard internal combustion engine. They also cost a lot more to replace. This isn’t an issue that most Tesla users will have to experience, thanks to the battery’s longevity, but should your battery need replacing, it could cost around $6,000-$7,000 per module, meaning a full replacement can cost $20,000 or more.
The most you would expect to spend if you needed to replace a standard car engine would be around $3,000. The difference in price is clear, although it is almost unheard of that you would need to replace a Tesla battery within the first 8 or so years of owning the car, with the batteries usually expected to last around 200,000 miles or more.
Changing The Tires
Teslas and gas-powered vehicles both use fairly standard rubber. Tires degrade at different rates, depending on the way your drive, the surfaces you usually drive on and the quality of the tire you have installed. The tire maintenance requirements for gas and Tesla cars are pretty much the same.
The regenerative braking feature of Tesla cars has a huge impact on brake maintenance. It reduces the wear and tear on the car’s brake pads and rotors, meaning you will be able to travel around 100,000 miles before you require a service. Standard cars don’t have such a feature, meaning you will likely require a service after 50,000 miles.
Overall, Tesla cars require less constant maintenance and servicing than gas-powered vehicles. This makes them cheaper to maintain on the whole, and allows drivers more peace of mind, knowing that a lot of problems can be solved remotely via software updates. There are a lot more moving parts and liquids that need to be serviced in gas-powered cars.
Do Teslas Require A Lot Of Maintenance?
Teslas do not need the same level of maintenance or servicing as standard gas-powered cars. A lot of Tesla maintenance can be done remotely through software updates. The maintenance costs are a lot lower than both the maintenance costs of fuel-powered cars, and those of many other electric vehicles.
Tesla have dismissed the need for annual servicing on their vehicles, instead opting for an ‘as-needed’ style of maintenance, where you visit a service center to repair or maintain individual issues as they appear. Tesla’s lack of engine oil and their use of non-degrading grease inside the electric motors means that regular liquid top-ups won’t be necessary.
Most of the major parts in Tesla cars will only require maintenance once every two or three years, depending on your driving style. Compared to regular cars, this is good going, and will help you to save a lot of time and money throughout the duration of the car’s lifespan.
Where Should You Go For Tesla Maintenance?
Tesla recommend that you go to one of their official Service Centers to get your car serviced. If you choose to go to a non-Tesla service center, you will be at risk of affecting your warranty should you experience any issues after the work has been done.
KEY FACT: There are around 120 official Tesla service centers in the USA
In-person services at official Tesla Service Centers can be scheduled via the Tesla app. It isn’t always necessary to take your car in to be serviced, as many issues can be resolved remotely, with over-the-air software updates and remote diagnostics. It is worth checking before you book an in-person service that the issues can’t be dealt with remotely.
The Risk Of Not Going To An Official Tesla Service Center
As well as putting your Tesla’s warranty at risk should your car be dealt with incorrectly at a non-specialist garage, you will be at risk of your car being operated on by unqualified technicians. As the rise in electric vehicle usage has risen sharply in the last few years, garages have found it tough to properly train all their staff to work with the technology in electric vehicles.
Around 97% of mechanics are not fully trained in dealing with electric vehicles and their intricacies, such as their use of large batteries rather than internal combustion engines. This is why it is worth going to an official Tesla Service Center, rather than your local non-specialist garage, even if it may cost you a bit more money.
How Often Should You Service Your Tesla?
Tesla recommend that you service your car on an ‘as-needed’ basis, which means that you should only visit a Tesla Service Center to sort out individual issues. Before 2019, Tesla recommended that you take your car in for a service once a year. Each individual aspect of the car has its own lifespan.
Below is a table demonstrating Tesla’s recommendations on how often you should have individual parts serviced.
Tesla Recommended Service Frequencies
|A/C Desiccant Bag
|Every 4 years
|Cabin Air Filters/HEPA filters
|Every 3 years
|Every 10,000 km (6,200 miles)
|Every 2 years
|20,000 km (12,500 miles)
The only areas of a Tesla car that will need an annual service are the wiper blades, and potentially the tire rotation, although this is dependent on how much you drive the car. It is also not guaranteed that you will need the wiper blades serviced yearly, as they may still be performing well for longer than a year. It is useful to remember that these frequencies are just Tesla’s guidelines.
You will likely know when it is time to get a part serviced either from an in-car notification, or when you start to notice a part not performing as normal. An example of this would be if your cabin starts to smell musty, there could be an issue with the air filter, or if your wipers start to smear the windscreen, they will need a service.
KEY POINTS• Teslas require nowhere near as much maintenance as gas-powered cars
• Some parts, like the tires and wiper blades, do need fairly regular maintenance
• You should usually only take your Tesla to a service center when an issue arises
How Expensive Is It To Maintain A Tesla?
The average cost of maintaining a Tesla is a lot less than the average cost of maintaining a gasoline-powered car, as there is simply less to maintain. There is no oil to change, far fewer moving parts, and the use of over-the-air remote software updates.
Tesla Maintenance Costs By Part
|Cost to maintain
|$35 – $100
|Cabin air filter
|$60 – $200
|$20 – $50
|$150 – $300
|$350 – $550
The average yearly maintenance and servicing costs of Teslas are low, with an average price of $225 a year. When compared to other vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette, which has a yearly maintenance cost of around $740, or the Audi A6, which costs around $915 a year, $225 is very cheap. Warranties can be purchased to lower the costs of maintenance even further.
The most expensive Tesla to maintain is the Model S, which will cost on average around $280 a year. The cheapest model to maintain is the Model X, which will cost around $170 a year, staggeringly low when you compare it to not only other brands of cars, but the other Tesla models.
Cost Of Battery Replacement
A full replacement of a Tesla battery is far more expensive than replacing the engine in a standard car. It will cost you between $6,000-$7,000 to get a new Tesla battery module, compared to the $1,000-$3,000 that it will cost to swap out a standard engine. However, Tesla batteries are usually covered by an eight-year warranty and will usually outlast this.
Teslas don’t need oil changes, as they don’t use oil in the same way as a gas-powered car does. Teslas don’t have combustion engines and use batteries instead, meaning there is no need for engine oil. Teslas generally require much less maintenance than a regular vehicle.