Automotive experts say it’s virtually impossible to repair Tesla batteries if they’re damaged.
Sandy Munro, an automotive engineer, said Tesla’s Model Y battery pack has “zero repairability” when any damage happens from a collision, no matter how minor.
Munro runs the YouTube channel Munro Live, where he performs teardown analyses of automotive products, which helps identify its component parts and functionality.
He told Reuters that if the Model Y battery pack is damaged even slightly, it’s likely going to the junkyard.
Teslas are billed as a more environmentally friendly car.
Mark Mills, physicist with the Manhattan Institute, said about 500,000 pounds of rock has to be mined to make one electric vehicle (EV) battery.
Volkswagen published a study that found when calculating the carbon dioxide emissions during the manufacturing process, an EV has to be driven about 60,000 miles before there’s a net reduction in emissions.
Electric vehicle batteries are very difficult to recycle. They weigh 1,000 pounds or more and are considered hazardous waste. After they’ve run their useful life, most will need to be disposed of.
If the batteries are trashed because of accidents before hitting 60,000 miles, the car doesn’t break even on emissions.
Reuters reports that Ford, GM and Nissan have made it so individual modules in their battery packs can be repaired. Tesla, though, requires the whole battery to be replaced.
Long Wait Times
Tesla didn’t respond to Cowboy State Daily requests for comment, and the company dissolved its press department in 2020.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced earlier this month that emails to the media relations department at Twitter, which Musk also owns, would get an auto response of a poop emoji.
Determined to get answers to questions about Tesla repairs, Cowboy State Daily turned to Aaron Turpen, an automotive writer and supporter of electric vehicles from Cheyenne.
Turpen said that Teslas have always been notoriously difficult to repair.
“Since its inception from the beginning, it’s had a lack of parts supply,” Turpen explained.
The company doesn’t produce spare parts, or at least not very many. If a car door is dented, for example, the company manufactures a new one on the factory line, which means long wait times.
“The wait times for repairs on all Tesla models have always been much longer than the industry average,” Turpen said.
Unlike other auto manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t have a dealership network. Dealerships are often the ones doing the repairs, and they pressure auto makers to have parts ready to order.
“They don’t like customers calling them all the time for their car that’s been there two weeks,” Turpen said.
The longer it takes to get a car back on the road, the more it drives up the cost of repairs too.
When repair costs exceed the value of the car, the insurance company totals the car.
Fewer Repairs Needed
Jason Bloomberg, a Cheyenne physician and Tesla owner, told Cowboy State Daily that repairs haven’t been an issue for his own vehicles.
“Electric vehicles, by their nature, have very little that needs to be repaired,” Bloomberg said.
They don’t have exhaust or cooling systems. They don’t have belts, and they don’t have hoses that are subjected to the kinds of temperatures that happen inside the engine compartment of a gas-powered car.
“There’s a whole lot less that can go wrong,” Bloomberg said.
For the times he’s had to make repairs, the company offers two types of repair services. One way is to take it to a certified service center, and the other way is a mobile repair service.
He had his 2018 Model X upgraded so that it could get power at more public charging stations than just the Tesla Superchargers.
In that case, a technician came to his house and worked on the car in his garage. A mobile service technician also replaced a malfunctioning door handle that was under warranty.
Better Than Rolls-Royce
He had the air suspension go out in a Model S, and that was a bit more complicated of a repair than can be done in a home garage.
For that, Bloomberg said he took it to a service center, and the closest at the time was in Loveland, Colorado.
In another incident, he had an air conditioning compressor go out on a summer road trip. He took it to the nearest service center, which was in Independence, Missouri. They got him right in without an appointment, gave him a loaner to go get lunch, and he was back on the road in two hours.
“I would say the service from Tesla at that time was better than Rolls-Royce,” Bloomberg said.
Now that they’re making more than a million cars a year, Bloomberg added, Tesla is likely have more service calls. So, new customers might not quite get the same service, but it doesn’t come up much.
“There’s no oil changes. There’s no tune-ups. There’s just not much of anything to turn a wrench on,” Bloomberg said.