Tesla's Model 3 is an electric vehicle that has gained popularity for its impressive range, snappy performance, and relatively low entry price. However, like all electric cars, the battery will gradually lose power over time and one day, may need to be replaced. This probably won’t happen for at least 15 years, but it can be daunting to anticipate the cost if the battery is no longer warrantied. As proof that most Model 3 batteries are doing just fine, we're including a plot showing the range degradation for real, live Model 3 vehicles on the road. Their estimated range when full is plotted against their odometer for several trims.
But what if you have an accident or are one of the few drivers with a bad battery that fails in year nine? The cost of a new Tesla Model 3 battery can vary depending on a few factors, such as the age and model of the car, as well as where you find the replacement battery and who does the work.
Have a warranty for your car?
If your Tesla Model 3 is still under warranty, you may be able to get the battery replaced for free if it is due to manufacturing defects. However, exclusions apply under certain circumstances: if you damage the battery by running over a rock, a huge pothole, or by charging with an unauthorized charger, your replacement may not be covered.
The base battery warranty for a Model 3 is eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. The Long Range and Performance trims have a mileage limit of 120,000 miles. These warranties guarantee that batteries will retain a minimum of 70% capacity retention within this period. If your battery falls below this level of capacity, Tesla may replace the battery under warranty at no additional cost. The battery warranty is transferable to drivers who may have purchased the car second-hand.
Under warranty, Tesla usually swaps your pack with a refurbished one that has a level of wear comparable to what the original battery would have had, if it hadn’t failed. These refurbished packs have the faulty cells or modules fixed by licensed technicians, but they are not brand new and do not necessarily have full capacity.
Note that third-party and aftermarket EV technicians will rarely replace individual cells, since it can be almost impossible to calibrate or balance new, non-OEM parts with the original battery components.
As a reminder, it is incredibly rare to need a battery replacement out of warranty!
Battery vs. Labor Costs
If you are out of warranty or your battery replacement isn't covered, the cost typically ranges from $7,000 to $16,000. However, this cost can vary depending on the specific battery pack needed for your vehicle and any additional costs for labor or installation. Newer models of the Tesla Model 3 have higher-capacity batteries, which means they will generally cost more to replace, since replacement batteries can be priced per kilowatt hour. Additionally, if you’re replacing the battery with a non-standard size, modifications may be required to get it to work with the car that can add to the total cost.
It's important to note that the cost of a battery replacement is just one part of the overall cost of owning an electric vehicle. Labor to replace the battery will be an extra cost, plus any retrofitting or repairs. However, the battery pack is generally the most expensive part of a replacement. If you’re doing it outside of a warranty, it may also take a while to find a replacement that is the size and has the capacity you want.
If you search for battery replacement anecdotes and information from drivers on the internet, not much comes up. This is mostly because battery replacements are quite rare. However, one internet-famous case was a Model 3 that ran over a battery and needed an out-of-warranty fix. It cost just over $15,000, including $13,500 for a refurbished pack: “$2,299.27 of [the total cost] was labor alone. Shop rates vary depending on the location, but this Tesla service department charges roughly $175 an hour for labor.”
The final thing to note is that you won’t be allowed to keep your old Model 3 battery, since Tesla will most likely refurbish it and reuse it in someone else’s car. Or, if the battery is seriously degraded, it may be recycled or resold for storage.