“Battery” and “replacement” are some of the two scariest words for a Tesla owner. No one wants to discover that their EV needs a battery replacement because the battery is the most expensive part in the vehicle.
- The bad news is the high cost associated with an EV battery replacement – we’ll talk plenty more about that below. Aside from the material costs, the labor costs can add up.
- The good news, however, is that battery replacements are a lot more rare than many people think. Most of the original 2012 Model S cars are still putting miles on their original batteries.
But the need for a replacement can happen. This article examines Tesla batteries, common reasons for replacement, and the typical costs associated with a high-velocity battery replacement. For the first few topics, we’ll cover all Tesla models together. For the replacement section, we’ll talk about each model separately – Model S, Model 3, Model Y.
Tesla Battery Sizes
Tesla has used different formats of lithium ion batteries in their cars over their 15+ years of production. The early Roadster and subsequent Model S used the 18650-style cell – the numbers representing dimensions of 18mm wide and 65mm tall. Depending on where a Model 3 or Model Y is made, it may contain 2170- or 4680-style cells. Nearly half of all Tesla cells produced in Q1 of 2022 were of the 4680 style, utilizing the new (LFP) chemistry.
Aside from the physical size of individual cells, what people find most relevant for daily use is the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) worth of cells that can be squeezed into a battery pack. If kWh is a new term for you, I recommend checking out this guide to kWh before examining the following table.
The more kWh contained in a battery pack for a given vehicle, the farther the vehicle can travel on a single charge. This is generally determined by the efficiency of the car, stated in miles per kilowatt-hour or in watt-hours per mile. As you can see, various models have varying trim levels, and each trim level might have a different battery size. The higher the trim level (e.g., Long Range or Performance), the more you’ll pay for the car – largely due to the comparatively large size of the battery pack.
Things to Know About Tesla Batteries
A Tesla has two batteries: a propulsion battery used to power the vehicle motors (vroom vroom) and a 12-volt battery to power accessories and security. Everything in this article focuses on the larger propulsion battery, which is both expensive and labor intensive to replace.
Up until very recently, nearly all Tesla batteries used nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA) or nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) types of lithium ion chemistries. More recently, Tesla has begun to introduce lithium iron phosphate LFP batteries in the Model 3 – as well as the Model Y in China. If your vehicle has an LFP battery, you can read more about LFP batteries for electric cars here.
Car and Driver tracked the battery capacity on their Model 3 and found a 7% decline in only 24,000 miles. However, the report does mention a reliance on supercharging, which is known to degrade batteries a bit faster. On this particular vehicle, should degradation continue in the same way, the battery would be eligible for replacement under Tesla’s 70% battery capacity retention warranty.
Speaking of Model 3 warranties, all of them come with 8 year coverage, and either 100,000 or 120,000 miles (for standard or long range trims, respectively). If your battery degrades more than 70% in that time, Tesla will replace your battery - not necessarily with a new one, but with one that does exceed the 70% limit. Warranties that are still in effect (usually 4 years/ 50,000 miles) can be transferred when a vehicle is sold, and used Teslas purchased from the manufacturer have an additional year warranty.
Vampire drain is a problem that plagues many EVs but the concept and terms were first really coined in relation to Teslas. Because Teslas are so high tech and use so many computers and monitoring systems, the energy used by these systems are non-negligible. Even when you’re not driving your EV, the battery management system and on-air apps are using energy to stay alert and monitor the vehicle. Recurrent has done preliminary research into vampire drain in a 2013 Model S, but would love to hear about your experience, particularly with the Model 3.
A 2019 tweet from Elon Musk suggests that the battery lifetime for the Model 3 is 360,000 miles for the standard range, and 465,000 for the long range. This calculation is worked out in an 2019 InsideEV article that also points out many high mileage Model 3s still have at least 90% battery capacity.
Why Would A Tesla Battery Need To Be Replaced?
Batteries naturally degrade over time. The reasons that EV batteries degrade can get a bit complex, but here are the two main things that would lead to a replacement:
- Capacity fade means that the degradation of battery elements leads to less total available energy in the battery. That would be recognized as lost range.
- Power fade is more focused on how quickly a battery can discharge energy, which would impact how fast you can accelerate. This would be recognized in vehicle sluggishness.
But Tesla batteries have proven to be quite resilient. We have been tracking range loss from our community of over 3,000 Tesla Model 3 owners for years now, and the range loss is limited, especially after the early years.
If you want to learn more about battery degradation, we have this article on battery health and wrote an entire e-book on it. It is 14 pages of super insightful insights on range loss and the reasons behind it.
How Are Batteries Replaced?
Batteries can be replaced in a few ways. The first, and most common option, is via a Tesla Service Center. For anything under warranty, that would be the obvious choice because it would be covered. Those who replace batteries outside of warranty may opt for Tesla or a third party option.
Third party battery replacement shops are uncommon but are gaining in popularity, as they provide more options to drivers. Instead of paying for a brand new battery pack, drivers can opt to have a pack repaired or buy a pack that might have been previously used. Companies such as The Electrified Garage and Gruber Motor Company do extensive work on Tesla batteries.
Leo & Sons in Massachusetts also works on a variety of vehicle makes and models. On any given day, like the picture above, you could see a number of different cars – including Teslas – in line for battery servicing.
Tesla Model S Battery Replacement Cost
Tesla’s Model S is the distinguished grandfather of electric cars. Because there are so many model years and battery sizes, it’s really difficult to pin down one cost for a battery replacement. Here’s what we found after scouring the internet and forums.
- Battery Cost: $12,000 - $15,000
- Labor Cost: Varies
- Total Cost: $20,000 - 22,000
Tesla Model 3 Battery Replacement Cost
The Model 3 spent years as the most popular electric car in the world. Despite its popularity, it is rare to hear about a Model 3 that needs a battery replacement. But not impossible. Some replacements have been shared that cite the a cost per kWh of $180 plus labor.
- Battery Cost: $13,500+
- Labor Cost: $2,299.27
- Total: $15,799.27
Tesla Model Y Battery Replacement Cost
Tesla’s Model Y is the new kid on the block. The Model Y and Model 3 have similar configurations, and that includes the battery packs. We would not expect for the Model Y replacement cost to differ much (if any) from the Model 3. That puts the Model Y replacement cost at about $15,000. Although we will keep searching for Model Y replacement invoices.
Other Battery Replacement Costs
Looking for battery replacement costs for other popular electric car models? We wrote an entire article about it. You can read it here.
If you’re looking for information and resources to avoid battery replacements in the future – think preventative maintenance – then we suggest a few free tools.
As I mentioned, both are free for EV drivers. Our goal is simply to help people adopt electric cars and keep those electric cars on the road for longer!
How Long Do Tesla Batteries Last?
The short answer, like we shared at the beginning, is that they last a lot longer than you might expect. We actually wrote an entire article about Tesla battery lives that you can use for reference. If you have any other data that would be helpful, please let us know by contacting us using the Help Center forms!