Premium service for Tesla vehicles.

What maintenance does a Tesla require?

From My Garage founder & owner Chris Dekker.

At Airdrie’s destination for hybrid and electric vehicle service, we welcome quite a few Teslas to our shop every month. As an EV-certified technician and Tesla owner myself, I’m always happy to share information with these clients – and with potential clients through social media or EV enthusiast groups. I consider this important because there’s no shortage of bad car advice to be found online! One question that I’m often asked is, “What sort of maintenance does a Tesla require?” While it’s true that electric vehicles require less maintenance than their internal combustion counterparts, it’s not true that they are maintenance-free.

Just like gasoline vehicles, EVs can deteriorate into an expensive and unreliable money pit when they aren’t looked after; losing much of their resale value fairly quickly. In this article I will outline our maintenance recommendations for each Tesla model, then explain some of these procedures in detail. Let’s get started!

Tesla Model 3/Model Y

Every 10,000 km:
– Rotate tires and inspect for uneven tire wear.
(This is important as these vehicles are often delivered with bad alignment.)

Once per year:
– Lubricate/service brake calipers and hardware.
– Perform a full vehicle inspection. (Starting at 60,000 km.)

Every 2 years:
– Test the brake fluid and replace as needed.
– Replace the cabin air filter.

Every 4 years:
– Replace the air conditioning desiccant. (Every 6 years on models without heat pump.)

Every 5 years/100,000 km:
– Replace the low voltage battery.
– Replace the reduction gear oil(s) and filter(s) – dual motor units have two drive units to service.
– Replace the coolant.

Tesla Model S/Model X:

Every 10,000 km:
– Rotate tires and inspect for uneven tire wear.

Once per year:
– Lubricate/service the brake calipers and hardware.
– Perform a full vehicle inspection. (Starting at 60,000 km.)

Every 3 years:
– Replace the cabin air filters.
– Replace the air conditioning desiccant.
– Test the brake fluid and replace as needed.

Every 5 years:
– Replace the low voltage battery.
– Replace the reduction gear oils (all models) and filters (2019 and newer).
– Replace the coolant.

Brake Caliper Servicing

As you likely already know, the mechanical brakes don’t see much use on electric vehicles because of regenerative braking. The upside of this is that with proper care, your original brakes can outlast your car! The downside is that because they aren’t used as much, your service brakes are prone to rusting, seizing and other corrosion-related issues. To prevent these issues, most electric vehicle manufacturers recommend annual brake caliper services – Tesla included.

As part of a complete and correct brake caliper service, we’ll remove your brake calipers and disassemble them. Using various tools and techniques, we’ll remove rust and corrosion from all of the important sliding surfaces and contact points. All of the parts are cleaned and dried. Our caring technicians will even sandblast and refinish calipers and/or brackets as needed, keeping your brakes looking and functioning well. We’ll clean the rotors and pads if there has been any rust encroachment into the contact area and treat all of the sliding surfaces with a high temperature brake lubricant.

Cabin Air Filter Replacement

Calgary Tesla service

Your cabin air filter cleans the air that blows in through your climate control system. Even when your HVAC fan is turned off, air still moves through these filters because Teslas maintain a positive cabin pressure to keep smells and fumes out. As these filters become restricted, heater/air conditioning performance is reduced, your windshield takes longer to defrost and you might notice odours in the vehicle. Model 3/Y have a single filter while most Model S/X have two filters.

Air Conditioning Desiccant Replacement

Tesla air conditioning service

What is a desiccant bag? A desiccant is a hygroscopic substance, meaning it absorbs water. Think of those silica pouches inside a shoe box; the ones that say “do not eat” on them. They’re a desiccant and used to prevent moisture build-up during storage. Every vehicle on the road utilizes a desiccant inside the air conditioning system to remove harmful moisture. In gasoline vehicles the desiccant normally doesn’t require replacement, but it has become a regular service item on electric vehicles. Why’s that? In your Tesla, the air conditioning system is actually called the thermal management system, because it’s also used to cool the battery and electronics! If a loss of air conditioning refrigerant is detected or the system fails, your vehicle will become disabled. The best way to prevent this is to change the desiccant bag and check the refrigerant level periodically.

In order to replace your thermal management desiccant we’ll first recover all of the refrigerant from the system. This involves using Tesla diagnostic tooling to operate various electronic valves throughout the system. With the system depressurized, we’ll replace the desiccant and clean the receiver drier. The next step is to perform a 30 minute vacuum of the system to boil out any remaining moisture before recharging the system again. At this stage we’ll replace any refrigerant lost over the years to restore proper air conditioning cooling and protect your battery.

For more, see our page Electric Vehicle Maintenance: A/C Desiccant Replacement.

Tesla Maintenance
Desiccant canister & filter on heat pump models.

Drive Unit Fluid & Filter Replacement

What – my Tesla has an oil filter? It’s true! While electric vehicles use less petroleum lubricants than gasoline vehicles, your Tesla still requires an oil inside its front and rear drive units. This is used to lubricate and cool the motors, gears and differentials. While Tesla (like many manufacturers) claims this is a “lifetime” fluid, our experience is that this usually means the lifetime of the drive unit, not the lifetime of the vehicle. For owners who intend to keep their car for longer than 150,000 kilometers, we recommend replacement of the reduction gear oil and filters every 100,000 km.

Tesla drive units are truly an engineering marvel on the inside and this provides cost-effective protection of their components – including motors and bearings that spin up to 18,000 RPM!

Tesla fluid & filter change

Annual Inspections

Every vehicle on the road should receive an inspection by a qualified technician once per year and Teslas are no exception. Here are some reasons why inspecting your electric vehicle is just as important an ICE vehicle:

  • Due to their higher weight and torque, EVs are actually harder on suspension parts like control arms, bushings, struts, and ball joints than gasoline vehicles.
  • EVs are more prone to uneven and accelerated tire wear than their ICE equivalents, while also featuring tires that are more expensive.
  • EV heating and cooling systems are far more complex and therefore more prone to leaks. As discussed previously, many of these leaks will totally disable the vehicle.

We are perfectly positioned to provide you with the most valuable inspection available. Why’s that? Along with being incredibly skilled, nobody in our state-of-the-art facility is commission paid. That means we’re unbiased and on your side; just as thrilled to share the good news as the bad. The goals of these inspections are to:

  1. Maintain your Tesla’s safety and reliability by identifying components that are worn, leaking or otherwise close to failure.
  2. Maintain your Tesla’s value by keeping it in like-new condition and supplying you with organized, documented proof of maintenance.
  3. Reduce your maintenance costs by catching small issues before they become larger issues, averting premature brake/tire wear and more.
  4. Reducing your stress by allowing you to perform affordable, pre-planned maintenance on your schedule instead of expensive and unplanned breakdown repairs.

Where do our maintenance recommendations come from?

You’ll be happy to know that we make our maintenance recommendations in accordance with your vehicle manufacturer’s service schedule – we haven’t cooked up an overly aggressive “in house” service schedule like so many dealerships (and other independent shops) have. While we subscribe to Tesla service information meant for repair professionals, you can confirm many of our recommendations on the Tesla website here. Occasionally we will recommend certain services sooner, but only when our industry experience allows us to determine that the manufacturer’s service interval isn’t enough to protect from expensive failures. We don’t take our clients’ trust for granted and therefore won’t “over-sell” maintenance like some of our competitors.

Tesla service in Alberta (Calgary, Airdrie & area)

If you’ve perused our Hybrid & EV Specialist page, you already know that we’re big EV nerds. Our business specializes in servicing next generation vehicles. Having made unmatched investments in Tesla service equipment and training, we offer the same capability as your Tesla service centre and can meet all of your maintenance needs; excluding free warranty repairs. With the best technicians in southern Alberta, we are well positioned to serve discerning owners who want the absolute best for their Tesla. Do you have any questions about servicing yours? Please contact us anytime!

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