How Long Do Teslas Last?

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Determining the reliability of Teslas, and other fully-electric cars, is challenging. They simply haven’t been around long enough for any substantial data to exist. On top of that,
Tesla
doesn’t provide access to their vehicle owners in 15 out of the 50 states.
Because of this, the J.D. Power 2021 Power Vehicle Dependability Study ranked Tesla as 30th out of 33 brands, trailed only by
Jaguar
,
Alfa Romeo
, and
Land Rover
So should you get an electric car? The answer is a resounding “maybe.” Despite the lack of reliable statistics, it appears that Tesla’s
Model 3
is a pretty solid investment. 
Car insurance
super app
Jerry
has run all the numbers and created a simple guide on Tesla longevity: which are the most reliable, how to keep yours out of the shop—and which you should absolutely avoid. 
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Are Teslas reliable? 

As a whole, most electric vehicles—including Teslas—are still considered highly unreliable. However, researchers note that lack of dependability stems from the vast amount of technology included in most EVs, not actual powertrain issues. 
But if you’re willing to deal with the occasional tech failure, an electric car might not be a bad investment. 
The
Tesla Model 3
, in particular, stands out as a reliable vehicle—and one with absolutely bonkers battery life for such an affordable car. The cheapest Model 3 offers an impressive 263-mile limit out of the box. Upgrade to a Long-Range or Performance model, and you’re looking at upwards of 315 miles per charge.

How many miles can a Tesla last?  

Tesla Motors only released their first car in 2008, so it’s difficult to say for sure how long they will last. That being said, experts estimate that most Tesla batteries will last over 400,000 miles—well above the 200,000 expected from internal combustion vehicles. 
According to
SolarReviews
, the current batteries in Tesla vehicles will begin to degrade after 300,000 to 500,000 miles. At that point, the battery will suffer from a significantly reduced range per charge and may need to be replaced.

How many years can Tesla last?

On average, the Teslas currently on the road last more than a decade. Tesla claims that you can expect the Model 3’s drivetrain to last up to 20 years (based on an average of 15,000 miles per year, and without any major system failures). If this is true, it will place them far above internal combustion vehicles, which last an average of 11 years. 
Key Takeaway EVs work a little like cell phones: recharging the battery reduces its ability to hold a charge, especially if a full charge is needed daily. Tesla recommends charging your battery up to 90% and saving the 100% charge for longer trips.

The most reliable Tesla models 

Tesla has been around since 2003 and has released eight models total. As of 2022, there are only four available: the Model X, Model S, Model 3, and Model Y. Unfortunately, despite their immense owner loyalty, Teslas have so far proven unreliable: we only have one model on our “most reliable” list this year. 

Model 3

Red Tesla Model 3
2021 starting price: $38,690
True cost to own (5 years): n/a
J.D. Power Quality & Reliability Score: not rated
Though long-term quality is still up for debate, Tesla’s Model 3 appears to be reasonably reliable. It was ranked as Edmund’s top-rated EV for 2022, and Consumer Reports rated it as “average” reliability. Unfortunately, repair costs and common customer complaints are generally unavailable, so for now, it seems like average is as good as it gets for Tesla (at least on the dependability front). 

The least reliable Tesla models

Alas, every single other Tesla model on the road is considered “unreliable” right now. 

Model S

Black Tesla Model S
2021 starting price: $69,420
True cost to own (5 years): n/a
J.D. Power Quality & Reliability Score: not rated
The recently updated
Model S
has an estimated battery life of more than 400-miles per charge, but drivers report that the controls are incredibly distracting and unintuitive. According to Consumer Reports, there are also ongoing problems with the heat and air conditioning and misaligned panels. 

Model X

White Model X
2021 starting price: $91,190
True cost to own (5 years): n/a
J.D. Power Quality & Reliability Score: not rated
Like the Model S, the
Model X
notoriously has body integrity and hardware problems—not something you’d expect from a $90,000+ automobile. It has been recalled six times since 2015, three of those for faulty electrical system software. The remaining recalls were for a seatbelt malfunction, defective airbags, and the unexpected activation of the AEB system.

Model Y

Tesla Model Y
2021 starting price: $53,190
True cost to own (5 years): n/a
J.D. Power Quality & Reliability Score: not rated
Tesla unveiled the
Model Y
in March 2019. Since then, the vehicle has had an astounding ten recalls for problems with body hardware, tailgate and door alignment, paint defects, and much more. In addition, issues reported by owners included defective sensors, difficulties with heat pumps and air conditioning, and water leaks in the trunk, all of which pop up quite frequently. 
Key Takeaway Tesla is known for technological innovation and ongoing improvements. Despite their seemingly rocky start, there is no reason to believe that they will not someday have the same (or greater) reliability as internal combustion vehicles.

How to make your Tesla last longer

When it comes to electric vehicles, reliability largely comes down to battery life. So how can you make yours last longer? 
  • Keep the same charging routine every day 
  • Avoid charging to 100%
  • Use regenerative braking whenever possible
  • Increase aerodynamics by removing roof racks and cycle racks when not in use
  • Avoid discharging your battery completely
  • Accelerate slowly to improve range and increase tire life

How to find affordable Tesla insurance 

The average cost to insure a Tesla for a year is over $4,500, on average. This is due to various reasons, but mainly because they cost more to repair than other luxury vehicles. 
Of course, the premium you pay your Tesla will depend on many things, including the model and trim you choose, your location and driving history, the coverages you choose—and the insurance company. 
We can’t say this enough: it pays to shop around! 
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FAQs

Current Tesla batteries are designed to last for 300,000 - 500,000 miles, or 1,500 cycles. Typically, they drop about 2.5% in their charge capacity after roughly 50,000 miles.
Teslas don’t need much maintenance compared to standard vehicles—for instance, you’ll never need an oil change. Of course, they do need specialized care, and when something does break, it can be very expensive. As an example, window motor regulator replacement can cost more than $800.

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