One of the biggest apprehensions for would-be Tesla electric vehicle (EV) owners is the prospect of battery replacement. Here we’ll look at the real cost of this repair, why it isn’t always necessary, and what you should keep in mind to protect yourself.
The True Tesla Battery Replacement Cost
Battery replacement is probably the most costly repair an electric car driver can incur. Teslas are especially notorious for their high repair costs, including how much it takes to swap out a new battery if something should go wrong.
That said, it’s worth noting that most EV drivers won’t need to replace their car’s battery pack. Many EV manufacturers, Tesla included, back their batteries with an 8-10 year or 100,000-mile warranty. Complete failure is very rare, and almost always covered by the manufacturer.
Tesla will even cover the battery replacement cost if charge capacity falls below 70% during the warranty period—something that’s also very rare. EV batteries tend to retain most of their charge capacity even hundreds of thousands of miles into their lifespan.
In fact, Tesla claims their EVs can retain 90% of their charge capacity even 200,000 miles in. Data from UK research firm NimbleFins seems to back that claim up—the company studied over 500 models, with those at the 150,000-mile mark retaining 90% charge capacity and those over 200,000 still holding about 80% capacity.
If your battery fails, loses charge, or sustains covered damage within the warranty period, you won’t have to pay for the repair. It’s when a battery is damaged in a way not covered by the warranty that costs get steep. The average battery replacement cost for a Tesla battery not under warranty can be anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on the severity of the damage.
That cost includes not just the battery, but parts and labor. An invoice from Tesla shared by Current Auto shows a complete battery replacement for a Tesla Model 3 costing over $16,000; $2,299.27 went to labor, $14,251.40 was the cost of parts, and the battery pack itself cost $13,500.
Read Your Warranty Closely
Tesla’s warranty is designed to cover things like manufacturer defects that cause battery failure or drastically decreased performance through no fault of the driver. The company’s warranty actually covers fire damage as well, even if a battery fire is caused by external factors.
If the damage to your Tesla’s battery pack isn’t covered under warranty, it’ll get kicked over to insurance to (possibly) pay some of the cost. The driver is left to pay the difference, if their insurance pays anything at all, out of pocket. If insurance won’t pay up, you’re stuck with the entire bill.
That can be compounded by the fact that Tesla sometimes suggests complete battery replacements for problems that don’t require it. Automotive YouTuber Rich Rebuilds experienced that for himself when he helped someone avoid a $22,500 repair bill for a total battery replacement on their Model 3.
Tesla wanted to replace the whole pack, but after diagnosing the problem, replacing a couple of bad modules for only around $5,000 was a better fix. Stories like this and others have generated quite a lot of flack for Tesla and spurred discussions around a consumer’s right to repair similar to what happened when Apple released the iPhone.
Should You Try Replacing It Yourself?
The short answer: absolutely not.
Unless you have the necessary training, skills, and tools to repair an EV’s battery pack, you’ll probably end up doing more harm than good. It’s better to take it to the dealer and at least get a quote, or to a mechanic with the skills to diagnose and repair the vehicle. Messing up a battery replacement on your own can end up costing you way more money for further repairs, so take it to the experts.
Want to learn more about the experience of owning an electric car? Read our explainers on the ease of finding charger stations and the effects of cold weather on EVs.
RELATED: How Does Cold Weather Affect Electric Car Battery Life?
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