Tesla Model S electric-car road trip, Route 66 Museum, Elk City, Oklahoma [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
I've had my 2013 Tesla Model S for two and a half years now, and I've reported on the entire process, from ordering through delivery.
After an update on my battery capacity--which lost slightly more than average, but not worrisomely so--it's time for a roundup of other items I've faced as I reach the end of my warranty.
I had to decide whether to purchase Tesla's extended warranty
A few weeks back, as the odometer on my 2013 Model S approached the 50,000-mile limit for my bumper-to-bumper warranty, I mulled whether to opt for Tesla’s extended service agreement, which would cover any repairs over the next four years and/or 50,000 miles.
At $4,000, the price was reasonable as these things go (a bit cheaper than the extended warranties offered by Mercedes and BMW), but nevertheless a large chunk of change.
2013 Tesla Model S owned by David Noland, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2015Enlarge Photo
Only a handful of Model S cars on the road have driven more than 50,000 miles, so there was virtually no history of out-of-warranty repairs to study. My own in-warranty repair history was not bad, mostly niggling little stuff like door handles and trunk latches.
On the plus side, the truly big-ticket items—battery, electric motor and inverter—were still covered by the eight-year infinite-mile power train warranty.
And if I sold or traded the car before the end of the warranty, I would get a pro-rated refund. But on the downside, there was a deductible of $200 per repair.
And I still worried about the “little” stuff. A door handle replacement would cost about $1,200. The touch screen runs $6,000, the air suspension $2,000 per axle. There is simply no data on the long-term reliability of these potentially wallet-busting items.
It was a tough decision indeed.
And then, just last week, Consumer Reports pulled its “Recommended” rating for the Model S because of worse-than-average reliability.
2015 Tesla Model S P85D door handle, captured from Consumer Reports video, May 2015Enlarge Photo
And another reliability tracking service, TrueDelta, reported the Model S to have the worst reliability of any of the 29 car brands it surveys, with repairs running two to three times the average.
I was terribly torn. Should I be the savvy consumer, the gutsy adventurer willing to roll the dice and strike out into little-known territory?
Or should I succumb to the comfort and security of the Tesla womb, coddled and protected from any uncertainty or—God forbid—risk?
Objectively, I figured that my out-of-warranty repair bills would probably not exceed $4,000 over the next four years.