Tesla Kills Annual Maintenance Program After Realizing Its Cars Are Just Too Reliable

The longevity goal for Model 3 drive units is more than one million miles.

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After reviewing fleet-wide data, Tesla decided to do away with its recommendations for scheduled annual maintenance and service plans for its vehicles. Through vigorous internal and external testing, the automaker determined that its vehicles were able to withstand longer-than-usual periods of time without regular maintenance when compared with a traditional gasoline-powered car.

Effective immediately, Tesla will only recommend owners to bring their vehicles to a service center when there is a need for a specific component to be serviced, enabling vehicles to spend less time in the garage and more time on the road. Service can be booked directly through the Tesla app, which also serves as a central control point for both the vehicle and the owner's account.

Despite the service intervals being slashed on its vehicles, Tesla still recommends the following service be performed on its cars to maintain general system longevity:

  • Tire Rotation, Balance, and Wheel Alignment: 10,000 - 12,000 miles
  • Brake Fluid Test/Flush: 2 years
  • Cabin Air Filter: 2 years
    • High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter: 3 years (if equipped)
  • Air Conditioning Service: 2 years (Model S), 4 years (Model X), 6 years (Model 3)
  • Winter Care: Annually or every 12,500 miles for cars in cold weather climates.

Additionally, extended annual service plans will no longer be sold across Tesla's lineup. Owners who have already purchased extended 3- and 4-year service plans can request a refund of the remaining length of the plan.

Without sticking its neck out, Tesla has subtly hinted at one of the benefits of purchasing an electric car: the total cost of ownership. Despite higher upfront purchase price, electric vehicle ownership becomes more cost-effective when looking at the bigger picture.

Tesla has recently been under the microscope for quality concerns surrounding its vehicles. It's important to note that most of the complaints which caused its newest all-electric sedan, the Model 3, to lose its Consumer Reports recommendation are related to fit and finish and not necessarily component malfunctions. The vehicle's drive units, for example, are designed for "ultra high endurance" and have an anticipated lifespan far longer than most modern gasoline engines.

"Basically we want drive units that just never wear out. That's our goal. And I think we've made really good progress in that direction," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a 2015 quarterly earnings call. He later continued, "I mean, internally, our goal - we changed the goal of the drive unit endurance from being approximately 200,000 miles to being one million miles."

Likely, the move to keep vehicles out of the service center is part of Tesla's goal of making service center trips quicker and more hassle-free for owners. During a quarterly earnings call, Musk commented that improving service in North America is priority number one during the first quarter of 2019. As more EVs hit the road than ever before, Tesla service centers will need to be ready to take on a growing fleet of cars; focusing on producing a more reliable vehicle will help to keep cars on the road and out of the service bay.