Tesla Repair: What You Need to Know

Tesla repair is not the same as traditional auto repair. Because electric cars are relatively new and significantly different from gas cars, it is imperative that you bring your Tesla to a shop that knows what they are doing and cares about protecting your investment. If your Tesla is damaged in an accident, keep in mind the following.

Tesla certifies repair facilities.
Only a handful of auto body shops in New Jersey are certified and trained to repair Teslas. Compact Auto Body is the only Tesla certified repair shop in Matawan and Middletown.

If the shop is not certified, the parts are not there.
Shops that are not Tesla certified do not have direct access to Tesla vehicle parts, as Tesla only sells parts to certified facilities. If a non-certified shop claims they can replace parts of your vehicle, they are either purchasing the parts from a third party or saying they will replace the parts when they are instead attempting to repair them.

Tesla repair usually means replace.
Tesla repair almost always requires replacement parts. For example, a damaged Tesla frame cannot and should not be restored, as the frame is made of non-repairable aluminum.

Improper repair compromises the quality and safety of your car.
The problem with faulty Tesla repair is that it can be deceiving on the surface. Everything looks as good as new, but the parts themselves are still damaged. Even a minor accident going forward could put your safety at risk and require major repairs.

Your insurer is trying to save money, too.
You are not the only one with your wallet in mind. Insurers are also often looking for ways to save on the cost of Tesla repairs. To ensure the repairs are completed properly, take the following steps:

  • Choose a Tesla certified repair shop like Compact Auto Body.
  • Inform your insurer that you are bringing your vehicle to us.
  • Let us communicate with the insurer on your behalf.

 

Trust Compact Auto Body to repair your Tesla with certified parts, experienced mechanics and honest pricing.

 

Tesla Repair FAQs

The simple answer is no. Tesla cars do not require maintenance like regular gas cars. Tesla recommends that owners bring their cars in for an annual (or every 12,500 miles) general check-up. This is only a recommendation and not a requirement for warranty.

The only things that a Tesla car basically needs to work properly are the windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, cabin air filter, battery coolant, suspension parts, and tires. The battery’s capacity will degrade to 80% when the car has 300,000 miles on it.

In comparison, a regular gas car requires maintenance for oil changes, transmission work, belts, brakes, sensors, power steering pump, gaskets, exhaust pipes, spark plugs, wires and muffler, among many other moving parts and components.

Yes. A Tesla car doesn’t require a lot of maintenance for its parts. Suspension servicing is every 4-5 years, and the recommended inspection is every year or 12,500 miles, whichever comes first. The inspection costs can be covered under an extended service plan. Tires cost $1,200 to $2,500 per year depending on your mileage.

According to Tesla Motors, battery degradation is non-linear over time. The battery degrades slowly, but it gets faster after 4-5 years. By the 8th year, you can expect 30% battery degradation. The battery warranty on a Tesla is 8 years.

Recurring electrical problems for Tesla vehicles are uncommon. Some Tesla car owners report issues on the door handle micro switches in older Tesla Model S cars. Others say that the 12V battery does not last as long as expected. These issues, however, are not present on current Tesla production.

They actually do. Tesla has parts for warranty claims. They just do not yet maintain a supply of replacement parts, as they are focused more on assembling the parts into complete cars in order to meet their production goals and customer demand.

There are only a few things to maintain on a Tesla multiple times every year, such as refilling the windshield washing fluid, washing the exterior, and maintaining the health of the tires. Brake fluid should be flushed every 2-5 years depending on the climate. The cabin air filter should be replaced every 1-5 years. The battery coolant can be flushed every 2 years. The brake pads and suspension bushing can last up to 100,000 miles.

A Tesla will eventually need new brakes, but it will take a really long time before that happens—and it may not even happen at all during the Tesla car’s lifetime. The reason is that braking on a Tesla vehicle is done by the electric motor, which acts as a generator. This is called regenerative braking. The converted energy is used to charge the battery instead of wasting it into friction heat with brake pads and rotors.

Many Tesla owners will say it is not difficult at all to get your Tesla vehicle repaired. It can just take a little longer than usual because of delayed availability of parts or service center location. Oftentimes, Tesla Motors will provide a loaned car for free while yours is in the service center.

Warranty – All body and service works have to be done in a Tesla-certified shop for the warranty to remain valid.

Service appointments – Booking an appointment for service can take more than a week depending on the service center. Tesla will offer a loaned vehicle if the work takes over a day.

Chargers – Tesla vehicles use a proprietary charger. An included adapter is required for Level 2 public chargers (EVgo, ChargePoint).

Supercharger etiquette – A supercharge session may only take 30 minutes. Plan ahead and try not to leave your vehicle longer than necessary.

Software updates – Tesla updates their software frequently. You will be notified through your touchscreen and Tesla mobile app if your car is due for a software update. The time it takes to complete software update installation can vary and the notification will give you an estimate. Your car will not be able to drive during updates. You should schedule your updates when you do not need to drive your car and are connected to Wi-Fi.

Autopilot – The term “autopilot” is a misnomer for Teslas. This still in beta feature is basically a traffic-aware cruise control with auto-steering capabilities. Driver attention is required. The car will not automatically stop at stoplights or stop signs.

Range – The primary factors in order to determine your range are speed, outdoor temperature, snow and headwinds or wet road conditions.

Save remaining charge – Drive slower if you need to save your remaining charge. Your car will notify you of its recommended speed to reach your destination.

Body and service repairs can only be done by Tesla-authorized shops and sometimes they can be delayed due to unavailability of parts. As Tesla continues to grow in production and develops a bigger service network, this issue will eventually resolve.

Technically, yes. Although Tesla cars do not require lubrication from conventional engine oil, they still use a minimal amount of grease for the motor, CV joints and wheel bearings.

Labor rates for mechanical repairs on a Tesla vary by region, and most of Tesla’s vehicles are under warranty.

Tesla has recently launched a new education program to train a new generation of electric car technicians to work on Tesla vehicles. It is a 12-week long training program called “Tesla START.” Upon completion of the program, Tesla helps place graduates at different service locations across North America.

Yes, Tesla cars have a fixed single speed reduction gearbox. Electric motors do not need multiple gears because they have good torque and efficiency in various speeds, with loads suitable for normal driving environments.

Tesla cars do not have conventional transmissions with multiple gear ratios. They have a single speed reduction gearbox with a fixed ratio (9:1).

Tesla cars make use of liquid cooling, which requires a liquid as a coolant. This cooling system is much more complex and expensive than an air cooling solution, but it is also much more efficient. Liquid coolers have better thermal capacity and take the heat away more effectively.

There are Tesla vehicles confirmed to have traveled over 400,000 miles without any trouble at all. That’s twice the lifespan of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

No. Cylinders are used in ICE engines. A Tesla car makes use of an electric motor, which is more efficient and has no mechanical timing issues.

Engineering – Tesla cars are built from scratch and that primarily makes them different from most other electric cars, which are conversions of existing ICE cars. The converted electric cars often have odd shaped batteries and modifications to compensate for their existing ICE chassis design. Tesla, on the other hand, was able to develop their car around its electric powertrain and battery. This difference gives the Tesla more interior and cargo space.

The “frunk” – Most other electric cars have an engine bay where the charger, electronic controls, power inverter, and the electric motor are placed. Tesla cars do not have a visible engine bay. Tesla was able to integrate all the components into the parts of the car, which is why they have room for the “frunk,” or front trunk. The “frunk” is a storage compartment under the hood.

Batteries – Different electric car manufacturers use various cathode chemistries for their lithium ion batteries. Tesla cars use nickel, cobalt and aluminum (NCA) chemistry. NCA lithium ion batteries have longer cycle life, greater energy density and charge performance. They also weigh less and are virtually maintenance-free. Tesla’s batteries are considered top of the line in the industry.

Charging speed – Tesla cars come standard with a 10-kW charger with an option to upgrade to a 20-kW charger. Most electric cars come with only 6.6-kW chargers. This means a Tesla can gain 30 miles of range in an hour of charging versus 20 miles of range per hour for other electric cars. Tesla cars with 20-kW chargers can gain 60 miles of range with an hour charge.

Wireless software updates – Tesla provides regular and frequent software updates. These updates are usually free and upgrade various car functions to be installed wirelessly at the driver’s convenience. Most other electric carmakers would require a dealership visit for software modifications.

Tesla cars use nickel, cobalt and aluminum (NCA) chemistry in their lithium ion batteries. NCA lithium ion batteries have longer cycle life, greater energy density and better charge performance. They also weigh less and are virtually maintenance-free. Tesla’s batteries are considered top of the line in the industry.

The 2009-2012 Tesla Roadster and Models S batteries were built with 18650 cylindrical cells. The batteries had an NCA formulation with 11kgs of cobalt in the cathode per car. They had a pure graphite anode with no silicon.

The 2016-2018 Model S Gen II and Model X batteries also had 18650 cells, but with less amount of cobalt (7kgs per car) and a small amount of silicon.

The 2018 Model 3 batteries have further reduced cobalt (4.5kgs per car). They also have a hybrid silicon and graphite anode. They have been switched to 21700 cells for their optimal size, lower cost, and better energy efficiency. Tesla recently opened their own battery manufacturing factory called Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada.

Yes. Tesla cars use regenerative braking to stop or slow down. They can be configured to “normal” regenerative setting or a “lighter” mode for drivers transitioning to Tesla from a regular gas car.

Regenerative braking returns energy to the battery and significantly reduces wear on the brakes, which is why brake pad replacements are rare.

Tesla cars use three braking systems: regenerative, hydraulic power assist, and the electronic parking brake. Of the three, only the electronic parking brake needs electricity to engage and disengage.

Tesla’s friction braking system functions like any other conventional hydraulic braking system. Regenerative braking is primarily used at higher speeds, but when the vehicle approaches zero, it successively shifts to friction.

Technically, there are two batteries in a Tesla car – one for driving (also known as the ESS or Energy Storage System) and the 12V accessory battery for window motors, remotes and wireless connections.

The ESS is made up of thousands of small individual cells. The exact number of cells depends on the size. For example, the Tesla Roadster has 6,831 cells in its ESS while the 85kWh Model S has 7,104.


Electric Car Repair FAQs

The most expensive parts in an electric car are the batteries, drive unit, turbine wheel/tire package, and dual charger. For example, a 60-kwH battery pack for a Tesla Model S costs around $10,000, and a drive unit costs around $20,000.

Electric cars have fewer moving parts than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, which is why they only have a minimal number of components that need regular checkup or repair. Basically, the only maintenance that may be required periodically is monitoring of the battery, brake wear assessment, checking tire health, topping up the washer fluid, cabin air filter replacement, software updates, and carwash.

Electric cars are virtually maintenance-free, as they do not need regular oil changes, transmission fluid changes, and spark plug replacements like ICE cars do. However, electric cars also need some servicing at least every year to inspect and maintain their driving condition. Tesla Motors, for example, recommends bringing in their cars for service every 12,500 miles or every year, whichever comes first.

No. The drive unit is the most expensive part in an electric vehicle.

Electric or hybrid cars are actually not difficult to repair. Common issues encountered when bringing an electric car in for repair are lack of parts and the location of the service center. Loaned vehicles are usually provided for servicing that takes more than a day.

Electric cars are virtually maintenance-free, so they are really not harder or more expensive to work on in terms of keeping them in top shape. An electric car owner needs to pay infrequent attention to the tires, wipers, suspension, and brakes.

Factors that affect the cost of electric car batteries are the price of lithium and other materials used to build them, advanced technology involved in research and development, fairly new manufacturing processes, and lack of competition. However, reports show that the battery price is decreasing over time. It is expected to fall below $100/kWh in the coming months.

The most expensive parts in an electric car are the drive unit, batteries, turbine wheel and tire package, and dual charger. For example, a 60-kwH battery pack for a Tesla Model S is around $10,000, while a drive unit costs around $20,000.

As of August 2018, replacing an electric car battery out-of-pocket would cost the owner anywhere between $200-300/kwH.

As of September 2018, the average size of an electric vehicle battery in the U.S. is above 60-kWh. Outside the U.S., the average size is between 40 and 60-kWh.

Electric car batteries degrade slowly over time. With average usage, they are expected to degrade to 80% of original capacity after about 8-10 years.

The simple answer is no, jump-starting is for cars that run on gas and not electricity. In most cases, however, the 12-volt electric battery that comes standard on electric cars can be jump-started to keep the electronics of the vehicle responsive and running when the main battery is down. It’s important to note that an electric vehicle cannot be jump-started using another electric vehicle. A portable jump-start device should be used.

Electric vehicles do not have starter motors. They bypass the usual process a starter motor triggers in a gas car.

Electric cars do not actually have more torque. It appears so just because an electric motor delivers the maximum torque at all speeds. This is because an electric motor is more compact and directly connected to the wheels without the need to generate power from a fuel source through the clutch and gearbox. An internal combustion engine (ICE), in contrast, has a torque curve.

The answer will depend on the individual usage. Although buying a hybrid car is more expensive, it may help save you on maintenance costs in the long run. Hybrid cars are technically more reliable than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

Depending on various factors such as climate conditions and amount of mileage, the Toyota hybrid car battery can last anywhere between 5 and 10 years. Most hybrid cars today use nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. Some now use advanced lithium batteries, which are expected to last longer.

The electrical compressor of your hybrid is different from the conventional belt driven ones. Use only pure refrigerant. Putting other refrigerant kits can damage the hybrid A/C system.

Powerful but quiet electric starter motors are used in hybrid drive mechanisms and they are designed to start instantly.

Yes. A hybrid car has all the parts that make an internal combustion engine (ICE) work, and those include the timing belt.

Hybrid technology on cars has a good track record in terms of reliability. Hybrid cars are well-engineered and the batteries last a long time, ensuring years of hassle-free driving.

Batteries installed on electric vehicles today can be expected to last many years. With proper handling and servicing when necessary, electric vehicles could last 500,000 or more miles.

A fully electric car battery has thousands of cells. The specific number depends on the size of the battery. The Tesla Roadster, for example, has 6,831 cylindrical cells.

Electric cars need hydraulic brakes to make them stop instantly if necessary. The hydraulic brakes are helpful especially in emergency situations when your car needs more stopping power than what the regenerative braking system can handle.

Mostly safety inspections. Unlike regular gas cars, there are no engine oil, spark plug or engine repairs with an electric car. Most electric car manufacturers recommend yearly checkups.

Electric cars simplify trip planning by having an on-board navigation system that shows charging locations to make sure you reach your destination without the battery running out.