Why I still love my Model 3 after 3.6 years and almost 100,000 miles.
Looking at my Tesla app, my Tesla Model 3 odometer now reads: 99,377 miles. By the time this is published, I will probably be over 100,000 miles.
I am a huge proponent of green technology, and in particular electric vehicles. I am also a huge Tesla fanboy! I still get a big kick out of my Tesla Model 3 after 3.6 years and nearly 100,000 miles. My previous cars were Toyota Camrys and Nissan Leafs, so my Tesla with dual power, heated seats, a 12 speaker sound system, etc., etc., etc. feels very much like a luxury car to me.
Tesla has completely rethought how automobiles should work, making many things about operating your vehicle better. My Model 3 accelerates like a rocket, and I love having my fueling station in my garage and being able to totally skip trips to the gas station for a smelly refill. I also get to skip the trips to Jiffy Lube and sitting in their smelly waiting room for a not so jiffy hour.
Teslas have a gorgeous huge screen where most of the controls are executed. The Tesla navigation using beautiful satellite maps on the huge screen is so good I don’t miss Apple CarPlay. The big screen is also great for watching Netflix movies and letting my grandkids play games. The sound system is fabulous, and with the streaming service, I can play almost any song I can think of.
I love using my smartphone as a key that unlocks the car as I approach and locks it as I leave when I am ~15 ft away. There’s no start button. As soon as you touch the brake, your car is activated and ready to go. With numerous software updates over the last 3.6 years, it feels like I have a new car every month or so.
Many Tesla innovations were totally new to the automotive industry. Many have been copied by other manufacturers by this time, but routinely updating your car’s software remotely like you do with a computer is still a struggle for some.
Full Self Driving (Beta)
I have the spectacular Full Self Driving (Beta) software suite, which will totally drive my car to any location I put in the navigation. However, unfortunately, it still screws up occasionally, so you need to be prepared to intervene instantaneously. Also, it is a little bit too timid, so you need to give it a little help with the accelerator pedal in heavy traffic. However, the steering remains totally automatic.
In rural Northern Wisconsin, where we spend the summers, I can give a voice command for any business or other location in the area and just sit and watch the car drive on roads with no yellow or white lines to that location with no intervention. I only need to torque the steering wheel a little or twiddle one of the thumb wheels on the steering wheel to let the system know that I am paying attention. There is also a camera over the rear-view mirror watching my face, so I can’t look away from the road, look at my phone, or shut my eyes or the system will complain. It seems to me that the camera system for determining my attention to the road is much superior to requiring my steering wheel twiddling. I hope that Tesla will remove the requirement to touch the steering wheel soon.
Tesla Model 3 Long-Term Costs
Please see below my maintenance costs, which haven’t gone up since my report at 90,000 miles.
I know that in principal EVs are much less complex than cars with internal combustion engines. Internal combustion engine (ICE) replacement cost is ~$7000, as an ICE is much more complex than an electric motor — and it seldom runs over 200,000 miles without a very expensive rebuild or replacement. In addition, ICE cars have very complex transmissions (replacement cost of ~$5000). You also have exhaust and emission control systems, the radiator/cooling system, etc., etc., etc., many components which EVs do not have.
An EV has a very expensive battery. Do I need to be worried about replacing it? I am treating mine with kid gloves and expect it to last over 10 years and over 500,000 miles. I almost never charge over 80%, and at least 3/4 of my charging is done at Level 2 in my garage. However, I have used Tesla’s fabulous, faster Level 3 Supercharger network often for long cross-country road trips. The EPA range of my car was 310 miles when new. When your Tesla is charging, you can set the charge limit to 100% and your car will give you a battery range estimate. Mine is reading 278 miles now (310 − 278 = 32 and 32/310 = ~10%), so I’ve seen ~10% battery loss, which is not bad for 100,000 miles.
Others have also reported that Tesla battery loss is ~10% or so for the first 100,000 miles, and then the battery degradation slows down after that. However, I didn’t do this when my car was new and I can’t get EPA to do a new range estimate on my used Model 3, so it’s hard to get a totally accurate degradation estimate. My Model 3 Long Range was warrantied completely for 50,000 miles. The drive system and battery warranty will runout at 130,000 miles. Therefore, the most expensive components of my car are warrantied for another 30,000 miles.
The numerous comparisons I’ve seen estimate maintenance and fuel costs for EVs to be much lower than for ICE vehicles. However, the heavy EV battery causes tires to wear out more quickly than on an ICE vehicle, so that is an increased cost for EV maintenance.
In just under 100,000 miles, the total cost of the tires and out-of-warranty repairs for my Model 3 have been $5441.42. This is more than I expected, but probably not more than what I would have paid driving a gas car with costs for repairs, tires, oil changes, emission inspections, brakes, other miscellaneous items, and higher cost for fuel. The big savings will come going forward where the gas car will see those costs repeated plus muffler, exhaust, and emission control system replacement and eventually transmission and engine rebuild. If I live long enough, I expect to drive my Tesla over 500,000 miles. It is not unrealistic to expect the electric drive system and battery to last that long.
In Figure 2, we see my neighbor’s brand new Tesla Model 3 charging in front of my garage. I noticed him doing slow 4 miles/hour Level 1 charging next door and invited him to come across the street for a 28 miles/hour Level 2 charge at my house.
My Take on Extended Service Warranties
I almost universally avoid buying extended warranties on products that I buy. That includes the ~10 automobiles I have owned over the years. I assume that I will save money with self-warranty. In the cases where the product — like a car battery or a set of car tires — comes with a warranty, I have never collected on one.
I have recently been deluged with ads from Car Shield trying to sell me an extended service warranty on my vehicle. I got a quote from Car Shield. They want $220/month or $2640/year with a $100 deductible for each incident. If I had purchased a Car Shield policy when I went over 50,000 miles in November 2021, I would have paid 14 × $220 = $3000 by now. My repair costs over that period have been $2247 less the $300 deductible, or $1947. Therefore, it has been cheaper so far to go without a Car Shield policy. I have told myself that my EV will be so reliable that a Car Shield policy would be a waste of money. However, I am not unaware of the fancy computer, display screen, and electronics in my Tesla as well as electric seats and windows, stereo system, etc., etc., etc., so there are plenty of things in the car that could fail … and now I’m learning about failure modes of things I never considered. For now, I’m ahead and I’m holding my breath and hoping for the best for the future.
See my itemized service costs in my 90,000 mile article.
Please add your experiences with repairs on your Tesla vehicles in the comments section below!
I don’t like paywalls. You don’t like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don’t like paywalls, and so we’ve decided to ditch ours.
Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It’s a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So …