Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Tom asks: Who can service a Tesla? Can the corner service station? And, what gets serviced? What service does a Tesla Need?
My reply: There is a misconception about electric cars that they don’t require service because they haven’t got engines or transmissions (electric cars are direct drive). While they do not require the same service – things like oil and filter changes – they do have service requirements for their various systems, including their cooling systems (for the battery)and of course they have suspensions, brakes and mechanical accessories such as AC, like any other car – and more electronics, unlike most other cars.
Tesla touts its ability to perform “over the air updates” (see here) but when a component wears out or physically fails it must be physically replaced. EVs are no different in this respect than any other car.
The difference is that with a Tesla, the car’s mechanical components are integrated with its electronic controls and – even assuming you or some independent shop could physically replace a worn/nonfunctioning component, you likely will have to get Tesla to “authorize” the repair – to get the part to work – by getting the electronics to “recognize” the replaced component. Tesla controls all of that.
If it is a software-related issue, you will definitely have to secure the “authorized” fix.
The biggest eventual need-to-fix, of course, is the car’s battery pack – and its related electronic controls. My understanding is that Tesla makes it very technically difficult for a battery pack to be replaced by any but “authorized” people, by making it such that it won’t work properly without all the “required updates.”
There is also the body, which from what I gather is difficult to fix due to the unusual assembly methods used and can be hard to get parts for, outside of the Tesla system.
On balance, these cars – EVs, generally – are very much like smartphones in that they work until they don’t and when they don’t, you probably can’t do much yourself to get them working again.
. . .
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