If you’re looking into buying a Tesla vehicle or are just curious about how they work, then you’ll most likely be wondering what the maintenance is like on them and how they compare to regular fuel (gasoline/gas/petrol/diesel) transmission vehicles. In this guide, I’ll be answering one of the most frequently asked questions about Teslas; do they require oil & if so, does it need changing?
No, Teslas do not require regular oil changes in a traditional sense as their electric motors contain grease rather than engine oil, which does not degrade noticeably over time. That being said, oil is used in the differential (gearbox) of a Tesla, however, this does not usually need to be changed.
Now that answer is good, but there’s a lot more to this topic I would like to talk about, if you’re interested in learning a bit more about Elon Musk’s wonderful creation, keep reading!
Exactly Why Teslas Don’t Need Oil
To understand why Teslas don’t need oil like their fuel-powered counterparts, we need to first look at why you need to replace oil in a normal car and how it differs to that of an electric car.
In a regular ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), engine oil is used to keep the motor running smoothly. Over time, the fumes from the combustion break down the oil in the engine and therefore it must be replaced regularly in order to prevent it from malfunctioning.
Tesla electric cars are powered by electric motors, and since there is no extreme movement within the motor (unlike pistons in an engine), a small amount grease is sufficient when it comes to keeping the motor running smoothly – you don’t have to replace this either since it doesn’t degrade. Now, that explains why Teslas don’t need oil in a conventional sense, but how about the rest of the car? Is there any oil elsewhere?
Oil is used in a Tesla gearbox, but you don’t need to change it
Teslas don’t need oil changes, however, it can still be found elsewhere in the vehicle, just not in the motor and you don’t need to change any of it.
The differential (gearbox) of a Tesla does contain some oil as it is needed for smooth transmission, although, as mentioned above, this oil is different to engine oil as it doesn’t become contaminated by fumes from the burning of fuel (the main reason oil needs changing in the engine). Tesla motors used to recommend getting the gearbox oil replaced during a service in Year 1, Year 5, Year 9 but has since removed this guidance as it is thought that you will never need to replace the gearbox oil in a Tesla in its entire lifetime.
Do Teslas need any maintenance?
You haven’t got off that lightly. At the end of the day, Teslas are still vehicles, and inherently require some basic maintenance if you want to keep them on the road.
Before I jump into this section, I need to say that you should always check your Tesla Owner’s manual first regarding maintenance as this will have specific details for your vehicle – the tips below are general.
Check the tires
The tires on a Tesla are just the same as a regular vehicle (be it an electric car or not) – they’re made out of rubber and when used, they degrade. Tesla recommends that they need changing roughly every 6 years, but it all depends on how much you drive, if they’re exposed to extreme weather, UV light and a bunch of other factors. It could be a lot sooner, or a lot longer. Other than wear, Tesla also suggests that you should check the tires for rotation and misalignment every 10,000-12,000 miles – as this can affect how the vehicle handles.
Keep an eye on the brake pads
The brake pads on electric cars like Teslas don’t wear down as much as gasoline vehicles since they use regenerative braking which prevents wear down. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your brake pads, this can be done during one of your Tesla services (I’ll get on to how you book a service later in this guide).
Get the carbon air & HEPA filter replaced
Another one of the recommendations with regards to maintenance on a Tesa is that you get the carbon air filter replaced every 2 years. The reason for this is that it gets clogged up and becomes less effective over time as dust/pollen collects within it. You will also need to get the HEPA filter changed every 3 years, according to Tesla.
Check for brake fluid contamination
Brake fluid can become contaminated after prolonged use, and when it does, the brakes become less effective. Tesla’s official website states that brake fluid should be inspected for contamination every 2 years, and replaced as necessary. You don’t have to do this yourself, all of the maintenance factors here can be done during a routine Tesla service.
Get the air conditioning serviced
Similarly to any other air conditioning system, be it in your home, workplace or regular vehicle – Tesla’s onboard aircon unit needs servicing to ensure that it remains efficient and functional. Now, this is the one aspect of maintenance which varies by the model of Tesla you own. I’ve put together a small table below which shows how often you should get it serviced for each model.
|Tesla Model||Air Conditioning Service|
|Model S||Every 2 years|
|Model X||Every 4 years|
|Model 3||Every 6 years|
Cleaning and lubricating brake callipers
If you live in a cold region, or your vehicle is used in cold weather frequently, then it is suggested that you clean and lubricate the brake callipers on your Tesla every 12 months or 12,500 miles – whichever comes first.
That’s it really, we’ve covered pretty much all of the things you need to do to keep your Tesla running well. I know that can be a little hard to take in and remember, so below I have created a table which shows you how often you should have each thing checked as per Tesla’s official documentation (this may change at any time, so make sure to verify info).
|Maintenance Item||Time Interval|
|Tires||6 years (wear) & 10-12K miles (alignment)|
|Brake pads||Rare, you shouldn’t need to|
|Filters||2 years (carbon air filter) & 3 years (HEPA)|
|Brake fluid||2 years|
|Air conditioning||Model S (2 years), Model X (4 years), Model 3 (6 years)|
If you want to keep this table for later reference, you can download a printable PDF version of it here: Tesla Maintenance Schedule PDF
How to book a service for a Tesla
Getting your Tesla serviced is completely different from getting a regular vehicle serviced since they require specialist centres due to their high-tech nature. As Teslas are pretty popular now, you won’t struggle to find one of these service locations.
In addition, a lot of the issues can be diagnosed and fixed (electrical), over the air – without a physical visit. But of course, there are times that an in-person check-up will be required, such as for the maintenance tips provide above in this article.
To book a service for your Tesla, just open up the app, click on ‘Schedule a Service Appointment‘ and then select ‘Maintenance’ and fill in your details (e.g when you want the service etc.). Here’s a handy video which goes into further detail on how to book a service appointment in the Tesla app:
A lot of the things I’ve mentioned above are constantly tracked automatically in a Tesla with its advanced software, so you shouldn’t have to be too worried – the majority of issues will be diagnosed without you having to do anything. Teslas are smart vehicles, therefore you should naturally expect to have to think less – but it is always good practice to be aware of your vehicles state, primarily for safety reasons.
Even though Teslas don’t need oil changes, there are some things you need to do, like with any car, to keep it going. Like I’ve already said, your specific maintenance requirements will be outlined in your Owner’s manual which you get when you purchase a vehicle – take a look in there to see exactly what you need to do. I hope you’ve found this guide helpful in your quest towards truly understanding the revolutionary new vehicle; Tesla.
You might also like reading: Do Electric Cars Need Oil Changes? A Complete Guide
You don’t have to change the oil in a Tesla at any time.
No, Teslas do not have transmission fluid, they instead use a regular lubricant like grease.