Life With Tesla Model S: Should I Buy The Extended Warranty?


Tesla Model S in Albuquerque's 'snowstorm' during NY-to-California road trip [photo: David Noland]

Tesla Model S in Albuquerque's 'snowstorm' during NY-to-California road trip [photo: David Noland]

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The odometer on my 2013 Tesla Model S ticked over 49,000 miles yesterday.

That means I’ll soon be facing a big financial decision: whether or not to buy Tesla’s extended warranty, or as they call it, extended service agreement (ESA).

The car’s standard bumper-to-bumper warranty is four years or 50,000 miles. (The powertrain—battery, inverter, and drive unit—is guaranteed for ten years and “infinite” miles.) 

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Mostly as a result of a 10,000-mile coast-to-coast trip last winter, I’ll hit the 50k mileage limit first, a bit short of three years after delivery.

Tesla offers the option to extend the warranty coverage for another five years/50,000 miles. But the price tag is steep: $4,000.

Competitive cost

Four Large is actually a pretty competitive price as these things go.

Tesla Model S electric-car road trip, Route 66 Museum, Elk City, Oklahoma [photo: David Noland]

Tesla Model S electric-car road trip, Route 66 Museum, Elk City, Oklahoma [photo: David Noland]

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Mercedes charges $4750 for a three-year/50,000-mile extended warranty—the longest available—for its S-class. A 3/50 extension for the  slightly smaller E Class runs $3750.

BMW’s extended warranty for the 5 series—also limited to 3 years and 50,000 additional miles—runs from $4,000 to $5,500, depending on the model.

Limited options

Unfortunately, though, the Tesla ESA is one-size-fits-all:  four years and 50k miles, take it or leave it.

Both Mercedes and BMW offer multiple options for shorter extensions with less mileage—at lower prices.  A one-year/25,000-mile extension for a Mercedes E Class, for example, is $2200

ALSO SEE: Life With Tesla Model S: Local Supercharger Joys & Frustrations

This is a factor for me, because I’m not sure I’ll keep my Model S for another four years. That dual-motor Model 3 crossover, due out in 2018, is looking pretty good.

And who knows what goodies Elon may come up with to make a trade-up to the 2016 or 2017 Model S irresistable?

Unknown territory

The major thorn in my decision-making process is the lack of long-term out-of-warranty repair history with the Model S.

Only a few hundred cars are more than four years old, and I’m guessing no more than a few thousand have driven past 50,000 miles. So only a minuscule percentage of the Model S cars on the road have a history of out-of-warranty repairs to study.

In fact, poring through the Model S owner forums, I couldn’t find a single first-hand testimonial that said “I had an out-of-warranty repair, and this is what it cost me.”


 
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