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Mary, Zuni, my e-bike, and our Tesla Model 3 with a bike rack in Zion National Park, Utah. January 10, 2022. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

Cars

75,000 Miles With My Tesla Model 3: Maintenance Costs, FSD (Beta), Hauling, Etc.

Me, my e-bike, and our Tesla Model 3 with a bike rack and e-bike on back. Photo by Mary Hasler.

My wife and I are still just as thrilled with our Tesla Model 3 in almost three years of driving since we took delivery on October 22, 2019. My odometer just hit 75,000 miles. The ultra-smooth, quiet, rocket-like acceleration as well as multiple software updates, culminating in Full Self Driving (Beta), have kept us excited for the entire two years and 9 months. We have driven coast to coast from North Carolina to California and have made multiple round trips from Utah to Wisconsin. In all that driving, we never found a Supercharger full or out of order. You just plug in and Tesla bills your credit card automatically. We are able to drive the same 500 miles per day that we did with our gas cars.

Maintenance Costs

My full warranty ran out at 50,000 miles.

My battery and drive system warranty will run out in another 25,000 miles at 100,000 miles.

I’ve ignored the incessant advertising from Car Shield to buy an extended warranty. I’m going naked because I’m counting on the simplicity of electric drive compared to the complexity of a gasoline motor system and transmission to keep maintenance costs to a minimum. I have also taken care by limiting the state of charge of my battery to between 20% and 80% as much as possible to keep my battery healthy. I charge to 90% about an hour before long trips, but I have never charged to 100%.

I had to replace one squeaky front suspension joint which was covered by the warranty. My routine maintenance costs have been for tires and wheel alignment. At this time, my alignment is perfect, as Tesla measured 5 mm everywhere on all four tires. They recommended against tire rotation. I’m on my third set of tires because of the heavy weight of the car and perhaps my acceleration demos to friends and family. I have spent $1,143.37 on tires and a total of $480 for wheel alignment twice. I still have 5 mm tread after 25,000 miles on my “no-name” $565.44 Kenda Vezda tires. You would need to spend well over $1,000 for the equivalent of the original equipment Michelin tires. My el cheapo tires have lasted significantly longer than the original equipment tires and when new performed just as well. As the tires have worn down, the road noise has gone up. It is significantly annoying at this point. This would be true of any tires and I’m not sure that the one inch of foam glued into the original equipment tires makes much difference.

I recently had my first non-warranty repair. I had noticed a loss of power warning and a hard speed limit of 60 mph a couple of times over the last year. I told the service department in Minneapolis about it when I took my car in for glass replacement a few weeks ago. They asked me for the exact time of the incident and proposed the replacement of the rear Superbottle for $503.50. I understand it regulates the temperature of the motor and the battery. I believe on newer Model 3s it has been replaced by the Octovalve.

I do 95% of my L2 charging in my garage at 32 amps and 28 miles of charge per hour. I estimate my fueling costs are about 1/4 the price of gas for a similarly size car when others are paying $5/gal for gas.

Full Self Driving (Beta)

After 200+ days using FSD (Beta), I lost access to it when my wife and I had 5 forced disengagements and my privileges were revoked.

I downloaded FSD (Beta) on November 23, 2021, and used it obsessively driving every day with versions V10.5, V10.8, V10.10, V10.11.2.1, and V10.12.2. for 206 days until it was revoked. Tesla has promised to restore my privileges with a future software release, but I am not holding my breath.

I spent $6000 for FSD when I bought the car. It gives me automatic navigation, automatic passing of slower vehicles on limited access highways, turn signal initiated automatic lane changes, as well as stopping at stoplights and stop signs. Additionally, FSD (Beta) used to drive my car automatically on city streets from my starting point (in front of my driveway or the Walmart parking lot) to any location I picked or entered into my navigation. It used to drive me the 18 miles on a winding road with two hairpin turns up and down Big Cottonwood to the Brighton Ski Resort in Utah where I teach — without me having to control the steering wheel, the accelerator, or the brakes. Now it will still do that except that it fails to navigate the hairpin turns like it used to do with FSD Beta and it no longer navigates the sharp turns in rotaries.

If you were patient and there was no other traffic, FSD (Beta) would do most low-traffic trips with no intervention. It was also particularly good navigating at stoplights and was surprisingly good handling 4-way stop signs.

It would require intervention when there was cross traffic or when a driver was behind you at rotaries and stop signs. You didn’t need to touch the steering wheel, but you needed to give a little push on the accelerator to convince the system to proceed when it was being too timid/cautious.

FSD (Beta) would also give me autosteer on any single-lane road, not just roads with painted lines like the regular autosteer that is on every Tesla. This was particularly useful in Northern Wisconsin where we have many unmarked roads.

When My Tesla Model 3 Can Substitute for a Full Size F-150 Pickup Truck

A third party receiver, a tow bar or bike rack, and a good sized trailer let my Model 3 substitute for a much bigger vehicle.

My Tesla Model 3 pulling a utility trailer carrying an electric golf cart. Three Lakes, Wisconsin. September 29, 2021. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

A good sized trailer can let you use your Model 3 to haul a golf cart as shown above, tow a 3000 lb ski boat (see below), or haul 8×12 ft professional size wallboard. Having 363 hp from the dual-motor drive allows you to pull a heavy boat out of the water so easily you don’t even feel it.

My Tesla Model 3 easily pulled my 3000 lb competition ski boat out of the water. Three Lakes, Wisconsin. October 4, 2021. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

My Tesla Model 3 hauling two e-bikes on a tray-type carrier attached to receiver. Three Lakes, Wisconsin. October 5, 2021. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

With a good tray type bike rack installed in your receiver, you can haul two good sized mountain e-bikes. Unfortunately, the much increased aerodynamic drag from the bikes greatly reduces range, but my dual-motor Model 3 has 310 miles nominal range, so I can still travel conveniently cross-country since Tesla Superchargers are usually spaced every 100 miles or less.

Please let me know your experiences with high-mileage Teslas in the comments section.

 
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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, former leader of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization & Analysis Laboratory (creator of this iconic image), and avid CleanTechnica reader. Also: Research Meteorologist (Emeritus) at NASA GSFC, Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University On-Line Studies, PSIA L2 Certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Brighton Utah Ski School.

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