As Tesla produces more vehicles (at a rapid pace) their build quality, engineering, and overall car-building expertise is also improving. The Model S that was built in 2012 can hardly be compared to the one built in 2022. They have truly come a long way. So, how long do Teslas last?
The average lifespan of a Tesla is about 300,000 to 500,000 miles before any major parts have to be replaced. This is about 150% to 250% better than the average of gasoline-powered vehicles. The lifespan of a Tesla greatly depends on the charging used throughout and how aggressively it is driven. Teslas also last longer because they have fewer moving parts.
In this article, I took the above answer and broke it down into detail (excuse the pun). It’s really interesting to see how well Teslas last in general and what they are doing (engineering-wise) to achieve this. I’m excited to see more real-world examples in the future as more and more Teslas get closer to their “expiration dates”.
Table Of Contents
- Comparing the Lifespan of a Tesla With Other Vehicles
- Why Electric Vehicles Are More Durable
- Working Out the Expected Lifespan of a Tesla
- Battery Life Is Crucial in Determining the Lifespan of a Tesla
- Comparing the Quality of Teslas Built in Different Factories
- The Lifespan of Performance Models
- Frequently Asked Questions
Comparing the Lifespan of a Tesla With Other Vehicles
In my experience, the lifespan of a vehicle depends on the durability of individual vehicle components. If you have to replace a major part, such as the engine, it might be better to let her go—no matter how much you love her.
Some parts of a vehicle are cheap and easy to replace. They include brake pads and filters. Such parts may wear out quickly without affecting the lifespan of the car—you just replace them and move on.
Other parts are expensive and heavily influence the lifespan of a vehicle. In a gasoline-powered car, the engine is the most costly part. If it fails, you might have to take out a loan to replace it, begging the question: “Is it worth it?”
Modern gasoline-powered cars have an average lifespan of about 200,000 miles (321,868.8 km).
Since the typical American drives around 13,500 miles (21,726.144 km) a year, the average lifespan of a gas-powered vehicle is 15 years.
On the other hand, electric vehicles like Teslas are expected to last about 300,000 miles (482,803.2 km). With an average annual mileage of 13,500 miles (21,726.14 km), you can expect to have your electric car for up to 22 years. If you buy a Tesla in your late fifties, there’s a good chance you’ll stop working before it does. The lifespan of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range is about 500 000 miles.
Before we look at the factors affecting the lifespan of a Tesla, let’s see why we should expect it to be more durable than the typical gas-powered car.
Why Electric Vehicles Are More Durable
On average, gas-powered cars are expected to last for 200,000 miles (321,869 km), while EVs are expected to last for 300,000 miles (482,803 km).
The primary reason for the increased lifespan in an EV is that it has fewer parts prone to failure.
In an EV, there is no engine. Instead, the EV relies on an electric motor to power the wheels. A gas-powered car relies on an internal combustion engine, which has dozens of moving parts that are likely to fail.
The electric motor in an EV like a Tesla lasts between fifteen and twenty years. An internal combustion engine lasts for ten years. This difference contributes significantly to the improved lifespan of an electric vehicle.
An EV also has other advantages.
For example, the braking system of your Tesla will wear out at a much lower rate than in a gas-powered car. Your Tesla has regenerative braking, which reduces the force endured by the brake pads, lowering their rate of wear and tear.
So far, we’ve seen how the lifespan of electric vehicles compares to gas-powered vehicles. We know that an EV should be more durable. But just how long can you expect an EV, particularly a Tesla, to last?
Working Out the Expected Lifespan of a Tesla
To know how long Teslas last, there are two ways to go:
- Analyzing historical data to see how long Tesla models have lasted.
- Aggregating the durability of the components of a Tesla.
Highest Mileage Teslas
Data about the maximum mileage that Teslas have gotten to is an indicator of how long you can expect to drive your Tesla without significant problems.
400,000-Mile Model X
The highest-mileage Tesla Model X in the world, run by a shuttle service, had reached 400,000 miles (643,738 km) in its first three years. During this time, the service had replaced the vehicle’s battery twice in addition to the front drive train unit.
Interestingly, the battery replacements were not done because the battery pack had become unusable. The first replacement was due to a software error, while the second was done as part of a service related to another issue.
Also, the three major changes were covered under Tesla’s eight-year warranty. Tesla offers an eight-year warranty for the model X’s battery pack and drive unit.
900,000-Mile Model S
In January 2022, a Model S used as a taxi in Germany crossed the 900,000-mile (1,448,410-km) mark.
To get to this milestone, the owner replaced the battery pack twice and the drive unit thrice.
The first battery pack was replaced after 180,000 miles (289,682 km) when it developed an issue.
The Model S P-85 had issues with high torque, which can be blamed for the three drive unit replacements.
Taking this vehicle as a benchmark, with proper maintenance, you can expect to drive your Model S for 180,000 miles (289,682 km) without a battery replacement. Assuming an annual average mileage of 13,500 miles (21,726.14 km), this equals thirteen years.
You also have to consider that this Model S taxi has used supercharging daily while charging it to over 90%. This has a tremendous strain effect on the battery over the long term and does not really apply to most Tesla owners. So, in the most extreme case, the battery has to be replaced at about 180,000 miles.
The same individual who got to 900,000 miles (1,448,410 km) with his Model S had gotten to 385,000 miles (619,597) with a Tesla Roadster.
He then switched to the Model S. The Roadster is still active.
He has not made maintenance information about the Roadster publicly available. Still, his Roadster experience proves that a Roadster can last close to 30 years! This assumes an annual mileage of 13,500 miles (21,726 km).
Part Durability in Teslas
To a large extent, the lifespan of a Tesla depends on the durability of individual components. Cheap and easily-replaceable parts are irrelevant when determining the lifespan of a Tesla.
Below is a table comparing the durability of key elements in a Tesla, in addition to the estimated cost of replacing each item:
|Key EV Component||Expected Durability||Estimated Cost of Replacement|
|Tires||5 Years||$1300 for the whole set|
|Steering and Suspension||6 – 10 Years||$1300|
|Electrical Systems||10 Years||$50 – $400|
|Wipers and Cabin Filters||6 – 12 Months||$200|
|Primary Battery Pack||At least 8 Years||$12,000 – $25,000|
|Auxiliary 12V Battery||5 – 7 Years||$100 – $300|
|Vehicle Frame and Body||The lifetime of the vehicle||Up to $45,000 according to damage|
The vehicle frame and body is the most expensive element of the vehicle. If you get into a major accident with your Tesla, repairing it may be more expensive than purchasing another one.
But we’re hoping you won’t have an accident with your Tesla. In that case, the most expensive element is the battery pack.
The question of how long your Tesla will last now boils down to one question: How long can you go without having to replace the battery pack in your Tesla?
Did You Know?
The replacement of a Tesla battery can cost you between $12,000 when using a remanufactured Tesla battery and $25,000 when getting a new battery pack.
Battery Life Is Crucial in Determining the Lifespan of a Tesla
Replacing the battery pack of a Tesla is expensive. If you are forced to do it, you will have to consider whether the additional service you expect from your used car is worth buying a new battery. Sometimes, it might be better to go for a new car.
Any lithium-ion battery, including the ones used in a Tesla, naturally degrades. Over time, the maximum capacity of a battery will reduce.
At one point, the battery pack’s capacity may drop to a point where it’s inconvenient for you.
For the first eight years of your Tesla’s life, the point of inconvenience is considered 70% of its original capacity. If your battery pack falls below 70% within the warranty period, Tesla replaces it free of charge.
Here’s a YouTube video that gives an in-depth explanation of Tesla battery degradation based on real-life data from multiple Tesla owners:
Tesla’s eight-year battery pack and drive unit guarantee places the minimum lifespan of your Tesla at eight years, which was the average lifespan of a marriage in the US in 2021.
The LifeSpan of a Tesla Battery
Tesla guarantees its batteries for eight years or a specific mileage for each model—whichever comes first.
But Tesla batteries generally last longer than eight years.
A survey of battery health data from Tesla owners showed that after seven years of use, the battery of the average Tesla is still well above 90% of its original capacity. In fact, even after racking up more than 150,000 miles (241,401.6 km), the battery capacity is still above 80%.
Since the average American drives 13,500 (21,726.14 km) miles a year, after driving for eleven years, the battery capacity of a Tesla will still be above 80%. You will still be able to use it without significant inconveniences.
Most Americans keep their cars for around twelve years.
You’ll likely need to upgrade your Tesla before you need to change its battery pack. As such, the battery shouldn’t be an issue, meaning your Tesla will likely last longer than you need it to.
Something else that might be a factor in the lifespan of a Tesla is where it shipped from.
After seven years of use, most Teslas operate at about 94% of the original battery capacity.
Comparing the Quality of Teslas Built in Different Factories
Tesla has multiple major factories in several parts of the world. Of these, only four are involved in direct car production:
- Tesla Fremont – Model S, Model X, Model 3, Model Y
- Giga Shanghai – Model 3, Model Y
- Giga Berlin – Model Y
- Giga Texas – Model Y
Market surveys conducted in 2020 showed some differences in quality between vehicles made in Shanghai and those made in Fremont. Made-In-China Teslas had very few complaints compared to sales.
On the other hand, Teslas made in Fremont had the highest rate of complaints compared to vehicles from other manufacturers.
This difference suggests that Teslas made in China have better quality than those made in the US. This could be because Tesla has learned from their mistakes in the Fremont factory, which was established in 2010, and has used them to improve the vehicles they make in China.
Going by the results of these surveys, getting a Tesla made in China might afford you a slightly longer lifespan than buying one made in the US.
The Lifespan of Performance Models
Performance models like the Model 3 Performance come with “more sports-like” features. These include:
- Faster acceleration
- Higher top speed
There’s no point in owning a Model 3 Performance if you don’t take full advantage of its “performance” features whenever you can. However, this could reduce the lifespan of your Tesla.
Repeated maximum acceleration from a stationary position will result in your batteries degrading faster.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some common questions about the durability of Teslas.
Is It Worth Buying an Older Tesla?
Buying an older Tesla is worth it if it has been adequately maintained. Maintenance practices like avoiding the frequent use of supercharging stations reduce battery degradation.
How Many Miles Can a Tesla Last For?
A Tesla can last more than 900,000 miles (1,448,409.6 km) with proper maintenance and around two battery pack changes. For the average American driver, this could last over two decades.
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