Last updated 06-Jan-2023
When you own a Tesla, especially if it is a switch from petrol, it's in part a lifestyle change. The way Tesla and EV's in general do things means you need to make some adjustmetns. The daily routine you previously had with a petrol car will change, and for many thats for the better, but it also has some slightly negative consequence.
Most owenrs charge up overnight starting each day with a healthy range available in the car. You do need to remember to charge, and be able to park next to your charge port so the cable can reach, something that is not always easy if space is limited. There will be days when you can't, either access is lmitied, if you have multiple EVs in the household you may need to share a charge point, or you have street parking. Long journeys can also need planning, and although the longest range cars are stated as well over 300 miles, the working range is somewhat lower as we explain below. That means any return journey more than 120-140 miles from home will require public charging at some point. But don't be put off, all we're suggesting is that potential owners spend a little time thinking about their scenarios and working out how they would live with an EV. Often a little thought and a minor alteration to your plans is all that it takes.
Tesla, like all motor manufacturers, have to publish consumption figures/range based on a usage pattern determined by a standard called the WLTP and in the US called EPA. These testing standards typically overstate the consumption figures as they are based on warm weather and speeds below 70mph. There was for a while in Europe use of the NEDC standard which is used to rate some older Tesla's, however this was typically 20% over optimistic in even the best conditions. (It is worth being aware of this when comparing models). When it comes to EV's including Tesla's, the efficiency of the car will reduce as speed increases, and anything over 60mph/100km/h will start to reduce range noticeably. Range will also reduce due to the weather, especially rain and temperatures at or below 10C / 50F. In winter the range can reduce by up to 30% although with cars equipped with a heat pump are better able to deal with low temperatures.
It's also worth restating that other than cars with the LFP batteries (Model 3 RWD), it's not advisable to charge to 100% regularly and a 80% - 90% upper charge limit is recommended. Planning to arrive at your destination with zero range left is also risky, so you'd probably want to arrive with about 10% left bringing the working range down to an effective 70-80% of your potential maximum.
Taking these factors together, a real world range may be 80% of the rated range, reduced by a further 30% to allow for winter conditions resulting in a car with way a 300 mile quoted range, only having a real world working range of 300 * 0.8 * 0.7 = 210 miles.
Some people can only charge up once or twice a week because they don't have access to home charging. While this may appear to be an issue, with the average car travelling only 800-1500 miles a month, 200-400 miles a week, they can typically just about cope in good conditions.
Short journeys across a few days, especially when the weather is cold, will however significantly decrease range as the energy loss is worst over the first few miles when starting with a cold battery. In addition, the car has something called "vampire drain", a small daily loss of charge. This is worst with the older Model S and Model X cars and is now a very small amount unless sentry mode is used. That said, leaving a car in cold weather after a long drive may result in a noticeable drop in range when the battery has cooled.
A number of models can have a tow hookor tow bar, and all cars except the Model X can have roof bars. When using either of these the range can be further reduced. A model X 75D towing a caravan could have as low as an 90-mile range. Charging at most chargers would also require the caravan/trailer to be unhitched first too.
We have created a guide to Tesla range which covers the topic in more detail.
The efficiency of the cars, expressed as wh/m (or how much energy you need for every mile, and in some regions expressed as kwh per 100km), varies on conditions just like any car. The biggest factors on efficiency are speed and weather. With the increase in charging point availability, and the relatively long range, most of the time you don't need to worry about efficient driving, but for when you do, these are our top tips:
Service centres are often very busy and getting your car looked at can be a challenge. The staff are really eager to please, but demand on their time can outstrip supply. Cars going in for work can often sit around for days before being looked at. The number of 3rd party garages that will work on any electric cars is relatively small although growing. This is because electric cars require specific health and safety measures to meet legislative and insurance requirements. Those that do, can charge a lot for relatively simple work and the Tesla official bodyshops seem to adopt a replace and not repair policy so even relatively small dents can require new panels. There have also been issues on getting parts so even after your car is looked at, it can take a while before it is fixed.
Service centres are also best avoided around quarter end as they are focused on getting new deliveries on the road. There can also be busy straight after a quarter end fixing all the issues owners have picked up on delivery that should have been addressed before delivery. It's a cause of constant frustration to owners, although Tesla are good at eventually fixing the issues.
There is also much discussed about the service interval. Tesla used to recommend 12 months or 12.5k miles which is by modern standards more often than most, however they have now gone to the other extreme and said the cars need no servicing and only need to visit a service centre when needed while recommending some maintenance activities supported by DIY guides. Neither extreme seems very sensible to us and some service centres are suggesting the car should be looked at every 2 years. We think a 2-year interval seems reasonable and for most that also fits in with a service/check-up just before the 4 year warranty is due to expire, although we would also encourage owners to use independent service companies as they offer better value for money.
Finally, while Tesla own all the service centres, there can still be great variability in the service experience. Tesla have also introduced a reception free model with nearly all communication via the app. This can be very frustrating as sometimes you just want to talk to somebody. At other times, it's very convenient. We feel the best wat to sum up the Tesla service experience is for routine and predictable work, it all works well, issues manifest themselves most when things stop being routine. Anything slightly out of the ordinary can cause the processes in place to simply fail.
There is good and bad regarding the Tesla Warranty. The battery and drive units used to come with an 8 year and unlimited mile warranty although Model 3, Model Y and Models S and X from 2020 have a mileage limit on the battery and motors. They do reserve the right to use refurbished parts if you have a problem, which may be of concern, but in general this is fairly generous. The unlimited mileage warranty has no published statement of battery degradation and what is acceptable, so the battery warranty may really only cover for dramatic loss of range rather than a tapering of performance. The warranties with a mileage limit do have a performance guarantee and a maximum degradation of 30%.
Otherwise car warranty is for 4 years (which is good) but limited to 50k miles (which is not). Some owners won't be limited on miles but there are many high mileage cars out there, something to watch especially if buying a used car privately.
Tesla don't make servicing a condition on the warranty
If you buy a used Tesla from Tesla, the new car warranty has 1 year/10k mile warranty added to any remaining new car warranty if there is any left, or just comes with the 1 year/10k miles.
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