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Electric cars : repair/maintenance outlook

Broad question : electric cars - I’m thinking Tesla (I see it listed as an option with Model S (“models”) and Roadster) - but I know they weren’t first (Porsche was - oops, I’m getting off track) …

What’s the deal with the typical gas-engine regular maintenance items modulo the electric drivetrain? Married to Tesla for the warranty period? I heard they have house-call service. Tires - Sears and done? Brake hydraulics, rotors, calipers - just like on gas engine cars? Radiator - I’m clueless. No Haynes manual spotted in Auto Zone yet. Etc. etc.

BTW I like the mobile interface and email alerts, nice changes whomever did that.

You can get tires anywhere that sells tires which fit the rims. Brake work is a bit different - they use regenerative braking primarily and only bring the brake pads into play if the driver is trying to stop faster than the wheel generator can slow the car. So, you’re not going to be replacing pads/rotors as frequently as you do on a normal car unless you spend a lot of time on race tracks.

Radiator: Tesla uses a radiator, but it’s more akin to an air conditioner than one in a normal car. It’s a completely closed system and uses a refrigerant to cool the batteries and motor as well as the cabin like a normal air conditioner via heat exchangers. Unless something breaks, you never need to change the refrigerant.

Source: My overly-lucky friend owns a Model S.

How has your friend fared, reliability-wise? CR dropped their recommendation of the S after owners reported lots of problems.

Maintenance-wise, I’d expect an EV to be real simple. Tires, suspension alignment when needed, whatever lubrication that system needs…

Oh, I just got your profile picture…clever!

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He’s been very lucky. He’s got the P60 model without all the insane stuff they’ve got on the current version of the car, so there’s less to break. He did have the common “door handles won’t extend” problem, but it was fixed with a quick phone call to Tesla, which sent a correction via the internet and they were fixed quickly, by remote, which I thought was pretty cool.

Other than that, he’s had no issues with it and loves the car.

Can’t take credit for the profile pic. Saw it on some guy’s Tundra and liked it enough to use the image in homage to my MR2. :wink:

What about parts? Specifically Tesla - will they sell parts like anyone else?

From what I can tell, you can get the parts if you’re a repair center. Not sure if individual owners can order them, though it’s possible to get what you need off of a wrecked one that someone’s parting out.

That’s kind of my dilemma. The Model S is a wonderful-looking car that drives beautifully. But the sales model is closer to an iPhone than a car – anything you want to do with it after you take delivery requires, or at least it is strongly encouraged to get, the approval of the company. And if you do something that Tesla doesn’t like, they’ll flash a software update to undo whatever you did, or they’ll undo it during a service appointment.

I don’t like the idea of buying a car but being subject to leased-car restrictions. If it’s mine, I want to do whatever I want with it, even if the car company thinks it’s stupid.

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Now this is hypothetical . . .

what if you have the car painted a color which Tesla doesn’t approve of?

What if you somehow find fat rims and tires that Tesla doesn’t approve of?

will the dealership remove the rims and put the stock rims and tires back on, when you show up for your scheduled service appointment?

or will they simply refuse to service your car, because it’s somehow bringing down the reputation of the shop, and the brand, in general . . . ?

I’m going to assume that somewhere in the purchase agreement, there is some form which requires the buyer’s signature, which allows Tesla to engage in this nonsense . . . ?!

It’s not unprecedented in the auto industry:

That used to be musician Deadmau5’s Ferrari 458. Ferrari sent him a cease-and-desist letter trying to get him to remove the cat-themed vinyl wrap, and even his floor mats (same theme). Nothing ended up coming of it because he removed all the stuff anyway prior to selling it, but Tesla would certainly not be the first to object to image-detracting customizations.

That said, I highly doubt Tesla would particularly care what color you painted it or what wheels you put on it - not that I imagine you’d put different wheels on it because there are lots of option from the factory and they’re all very good looking. :wink:

I can’t see a Tesla being significantly more reliable than a gas car. Most of the normal car systems remain.

The batteries, their controls and cooling are not exactly simple nor the variable frequency drive controller for the drive motors. You would think the drive motors should be very simple and reliable but projected life is only 60 K miles. Given there is no multi geared transmission, that is a plus. New technology from a new manufacturer is definitely a minus. Overall, given that and the small number of cars produced, they seem to be doing OK.