Over the past decade, Tesla has become the most prominent automaker in the world. The company has shown that battery-driven cars can be feasible and has ushered in an era of electric cars. But new technologies can be finicky, and reliability is important to many. So will a Tesla last ten years?
The average Tesla will have no trouble lasting 10 years plus without major repairs. Battery degradation is the main area of concern. However, Tesla batteries have proved durable and have recorded just 10% degradation after 200,000 miles.
Of course, it’s unlikely that every single Tesla made will last that long, but they are very well designed and engineered and have proved their ability to go the distance.
One can actually check this answer for themselves. The original Model S first appeared in 2012, almost ten years ago. Looking at the used market, we can find examples from that time still running. Electric powertrains are much simpler than gasoline powertrains.
Less maintenance and fewer moving parts lead to fewer potential issues in the future. The real thing to watch out for when it comes to longevity is the battery. As years go on, a Tesla battery will be able to hold less of a charge.
The most reliable Tesla is the Model 3. Thankfully it is also the cheapest Tesla available. According to Consumers Report, the Model 3 is able to hold average reliability ratings but still garners a recommendation.
While issues with the powertrain aren’t unheard of, Tesla’s problem areas are with the fit and finish of their cars. Tesla is still an automaker that is trying to grow its production capacities quickly. Electric cars have been coming out of production facilities at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, this has led to oversights.
The most famous of which has been the panel gaps found in many new models due to misaligned bodywork. Waterproof sealing can be left out entirely, and trim pieces within the interior can come loose. The most infamous of all is the falcon doors found on the Model X. While allowing for a dramatic entrance, these doors have been a headache for owners and Tesla alike.
Frequent issues with seals and mechanics have made many doors leaky at best, and inoperable at worst. That being said, thanks to the simplification of the powertrain when going electric, major drivetrain components fair better.
How far a Tesla can go will be entirely dependent on what model and year Tesla you are driving. The brand has always been a leader when it came to electric car ranges. Every Tesla currently offered and that has been offered for the past number of years is capable of going over 300 miles.
The Model S tops out at 405 miles, and the Model X can go 351 miles. The Model 3 can go 358 miles, and the Model Y can go up to 330 miles. All of these ranges are far above what the average driver travels in a single day.
It is important to note that getting a Tesla with larger wheels will negatively affect range. This is the same for gasoline cars as well but is more visible when looking at the EV range. As an example, optioning the Model S with 21” wheels decreases the range from 405 to 375 miles.
The limiting factor for most electric vehicle lifespans will be battery degradation. Whether it’s the rechargeable batteries in your remote or the thousand-pound battery on the floor of your EV, all of them will have trouble keeping a charge over time. All Tesla can do is try to create battery chemistries that can minimize this degradation.
Thankfully, they seem to be doing a good job at that. In the company’s “2020 Impact Report” they stated that their average battery still had about 90% of its original capacity after 200,000 miles (322,000 km) of use.
A community-recorded survey also shows a similar degradation. Data sourced from various Tesla owners have shown a trend of 10% loss between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. This data can be seen by all in a spreadsheet.
Of course, not all batteries will be created the same. Like all things, there can be some outliers. There may be instances in which a Tesla can lose almost 10% of its capacity in less than 30,000 miles.
The Tesla Supercharger network is a wonderful perk of owning a Tesla. The network has expanded to cover almost the entire population of the US. It also provides a faster way to charge a Tesla when compared to home charging. If one is driving a newer Tesla and using the newest version Supercharger, then a sufficient charge can be had in as little as 20 minutes. This is great when going on long road trips or needing to be somewhere in a hurry, but it’s not the best for the battery.
Rapid charging and discharging are detrimental to a battery’s health. If Supercharging at 120kW or more is the primary source of charging, then the Tesla battery will degrade at a faster than normal rate. Strongly consider charging at home if you can. The charge will happen slower, but it will be more gentle on the battery, plus it’s cheaper.
With most charges being able to be done overnight, one should be able to wake up to a full charge. Additionally, it also helps to keep the battery charge within a range. Most owners will recommend keeping the charge between 20% and 80%.
Some will push the boundaries to 10% and 90%. But one thing is for sure, if maintaining battery health is a priority, avoid charging all the way to 100% and running the battery all the way down to 0%. When charging a Tesla, a custom percentage limit can be set to have the charge finish.
As with many new cars, a new Tesla comes with a standard 4-year or 50,000-mile limited warranty. The battery will, however, have its own warranty. Different models will have their battery warranties last a different amount of miles.
For the Model S and X, the warranty lasts 8 years or 150,000 miles. For the Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive, this goes down to 8 years or 100,000 miles. The other Model 3 and Model Y variants have battery warranties of 8 years or 120.000 miles.
The warranty will cover any defects or issues found with the battery and drive unit. It will also cover battery degradation. If the battery degrades past 70% of its original capacity in the specified time span, then it will also be covered by the warranty.
When buying a used Tesla directly from Tesla, an additional warranty is applied. Following the expiration of the original 4 years or 50,000-mile warranty, an additional 1 year or 10,000-mile warranty is added. If the used Tesla is already out of warranty, then the used Tesla warranty is applied upon delivery. Used Teslas retain their battery and drive unit warranty without any additions.
If you’re considering buying a used Tesla it’s worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.
You may find the following posts helpful:
Tesla not waking up (external link evjuicedup.com)
What to do if Tesla has a flat? (external link evjuicedup.com)
Can I push start a Tesla? (external link evjuicedup.com)
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.