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Car and Driver purchased a 2019 Tesla Model 3 as part of the company testing fleet. The Tesla Model 3 is approaching 40,000 miles now, and Car and Driver is looking back on the cost of maintenance over the last few years with the Tesla. Where did the EV excel, and what were some of the less-anticipated costs associated with ownership?

The Car and Driver 2019 Tesla Model 3

A red 2019 Tesla Model 3
Car and Driver’s 2019 Tesla Model 3 Tester Hasn’t Been Cheap to Maintain | Tesla

Car and Driver purchased a Tesla Model 3 Long Range a few years ago to offer firsthand reviews and experiences to readers. Since then, the Tesla electric vehicle has incurred quite a few maintenance costs that have added up quickly. There is evidence supporting the idea that electric vehicle maintenance is cheaper than regular gasoline vehicles, but Car and Driver has had a different experience.

Since the Tesla Model 3 hit 30,000 miles, it has required a few things such as brake caliper lubrication, a new glass roof, and tires. The Model 3 requires brake caliper lubricant every 12,500 miles at the cost of $432 for three services. This usually includes tire rotation. For the Car and Driver BMW M340i, that cost was $539. For the Kia Telluride, it was $728 for a similar service.

The Tesla Model 3 needed a new glass roof after a chip in the glass occurred. It was $1,200 for a new roof and $1,100 for a new windshield when a chip happened. Since Tesla owns and maintains the service centers most buyers use, there isn’t much wiggle room for price shopping. What Tesla says you pay is what you pay.

What were some of the bigger maintence costs associated with the 2019 Tesla Model 3?

By the time the Tesla Model 3 hit 30,000 miles, it needed new tires. It has been noted by many owners that the Model 3 tears through tires. The Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires that came on the vehicle aren’t the same ones on the market, either. “The Tesla version of these tires starts with 1.5 32nds of an inch less tread depth than the off-the-shelf MXM4s. Although it might not sound like much, that’s 20 percent less usable tread depth.”

On the flip side, Car and Driver found that the warmer months led to around 100 MPGe for three months straight. That made the overall average out to 85 MPGe. After 30,000 miles and 20 months of ownership, the 2019 Tesla Model S is at 35,984 miles. The battery capacity sits at 75.0 kWh, and the fuel range is 230 miles. The service price came out to $432, while normal wear and tear came out to $1,159. The charges for damage and destruction came out to $2,400.

When it was time for the 20,000-mile update, these were the stats. The 2019 Tesla Model 3 was in the fleet for 14 months and had 24,035 miles. The average fuel economy was 84 MPGe, and the battery capacity was the same, 75.0 kWh. The observed fuel range was 230 miles. The service costs incurred were $313, with $2 in normal wear and tear charges (it isn’t clear what that $2 went to.) Damage and destruction came out to $1,088 for a cracked windshield. This $1,088 is included in the damage and destruction fees in the 30,000-mile update.

The trials and tribulations of EV ownership

While electric vehicle ownership might be cheaper in some categories, it isn’t completely maintenance-free. Life happens, tires need replacing, windshields chip. Car and Driver enjoyed the experience of owning the 2019 Tesla Model 3 and found no issues with charging or other EV-related problems.

“That means it hasn’t been difficult to put miles on our Model 3, even if the savings in maintenance costs has been minimal,” Car and Driver said of the Model 3. Overall, buyers should anticipate regular maintenance costs for the electric vehicle. Like a gasoline-powered car, accidents happen.

The Tesla Model 3 isn’t perfect (no car is), and costs will arise. Regular maintenance costs will occur, and that’s just part of vehicle ownership. By being aware of the costs ahead of time, buyers might be less shocked at the expense of maintenance throughout the car’s life. The 2019 Tesla Model 3 is still pretty fun to drive, though.


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