In one sense, it is ridiculous to write about Tesla Model 3 maintenance, because there is so little to do, but in another sense, it makes perfect sense, because it is an area that people are interested in and there is a lot of confusion out there.
The regular repair and parts shops around Tampa, Florida (other than the cosmetic places that put on ceramic coatings or paint protection film) have never seen a Tesla. That is because there aren’t that many 3’s out there that have been on the road for more than a year and owners of the Model S, X, and Roadster have the service center and mobile service do everything. It’s also because there isn’t much to do on a Tesla.
I took a look at this topic 8 months ago, but a lot has changed. For starters, due to customer request, Tesla has published a Do It Yourself Maintenance page, and due to the lack of problems Tesla has seen with customers’ cars, it has reduced recommended maintenance considerably.
|Item||Old Recommendation||New Recommendation||Cost|
|Tire rotation, alignment, balancing||6,250 miles||Check every 10,000 to 12,000 miles||$40, since usually just rotation needed|
|Cabin Air Filter||Every 2 years||Every 2 years||$34|
|Brake Fluid||Every 2 years||Test every 2 years, replace as needed||$80 to $100, if needed|
|Wipers||Every year, 2 years if premium||Every year, 2 years if premium||$63 for Premium|
|AC Service||Every 2 years||Every 6 years||$50 estimated cost|
You may want to make or buy your own “hockey pucks” to ensure your Model 3 is lifted correctly. These used to cost $25 a piece, but now you can get 4 for $25! If you have a jack and lift pads, you can do the rotations yourself if you have a torque wrench to ensure you are properly tightening your lug nuts. Since I can’t check alignment, I’m either going to take it to the Tesla service center or get a recommendation for a Tesla-knowledgeable shop from my local Tesla friends.
Cabin Air Filter
Tesla has provided detailed instructions on how to change the cabin air filter, and there are also some good videos here and here that might help you. I’ve found Tesla charges $34 for the cabin air filter. You can call or pick them up at the service center. Hopefully someone will start selling them on Amazon soon.
I don’t know how to flush the vehicle brakes, but I did find a neat product so that you can test your brake fluid. I’ve had some expensive brake issues come up because I didn’t test my brake fluid regularly, so I’m going to buy these strips to ensure I catch corrosion before it damages my car. This product has great reviews and I checked the quality of the reviews to ensure they are not fake.
I’ve looked around on the forums and there is talk that you have to buy special wiper blades for the Model 3. After trying Trico and the RainX AdvantEdge blades, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about the Model 3 blades. Since I live in Florida with high heat, I decided to get premium silicone blades that should last 2 years instead of one.
The key to installing is figuring out which type of wiper arm you have. The Model 3 uses a narrow PTB arm (I think PTB means “push the button”). Once you figure that out, the installation is a snap. Since I wanted to test them head to head with the old worn out wipers, I installed each one several times. I’ll warn you that reinstalling the OEM blades is tricky because you have to hold the button down while you are sliding the blade into the arm. I found the RainX and the Trico easier to install.
I found that both the RainX and the value Trico did an excellent job with rain, but the Trico made an annoying squeak in my testing, so I prefer the quiet RainX blades, which should also be longer lasting.
Prices have gone up about 5% on Tirerack.com since my article 8 months ago, but there are some new value tires that have excellent traction and wear ratings (I’m not sure about efficiency — but I have so much range, I don’t worry too much about efficiency).
The cost for these 660 treadwear, A-rating traction, and A-rating heat tires came to $526.76 installed, $248.48 less than the 400 treadwear, A-rating traction, and A-rating heat tires I found 8 months ago that came to $775.24 installed. Those tires should take around 40,000 to 60,000 miles, depending on how you drive.
My previous estimate for 5 years of maintenance on a Model 3 was $1,792.44, but with Tesla’s revised recommendations and some research on my part, I think a person who doesn’t mind doing a few easy tasks themselves can reduce the 5 year cost to $980.72, a 45% reduction!
Edmunds estimates the 5 year cost of maintenance of a Honda Accord (which is a very reliable car) to be $3,974. This suggests the Model 3 maintenance costs are 75% lower over 5 years.
Big costs that a gas car will have in 5 years that EVs don’t have are 1 or 2 brake jobs, many oil and filter changes, accessory belt replacement, and engine air filter and fuel filter changes. If you keep your car past 5 years, with a gasoline car you can count on some big repairs like timing belts, fuel system treatments, replacing fuel injectors, spark plugs and wires, water pumps, alternators, starter motors, catalytic converters, mufflers, engine mounts, oxygen sensors, and head gaskets to solve oil leaks. I’ve had all of those repairs on my gas cars and I never keep them past 150,000 miles, and those repairs average a couple thousand dollars a year. EVs don’t have any of those parts, so they can’t break.
If you want to take advantage of my Tesla referral link to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging on a Tesla Model S, Model X, or Model 3, here’s the link: https://ts.la/paul92237 (but if someone else helped you more, please use their code instead of mine).