A Tesla is undoubtedly an expensive car to own, but it can be "equally" as costly to maintain the vehicle. The word "equally" is an appropriate term used here, given the outrageous repair costs of Tesla vehicles.
This came to the general public's awareness courtesy of a well-known Tesla hacker, Youtuber, and someone who firmly believes in right-to-repair legislation, Rich Benoit. It all started when another Youtuber Tyler Hoover's came to him seeking help about his faulty 2013 Tesla Model S P85 battery.
Tyler Hoover has a Youtube channel called Hoovie's Garage that revolves around automobiles, and he purchased a 2013 Tesla Model S P85 for one of his upcoming videos. But, his plans didn't go through due to a faulty battery. The car was only four weeks outside of its 8-year warranty, which is not a lot by any means.
According to Hoover, the lights and the display worked just fine. Still, a message on the user interface indicated that a maximum battery capacity had been reduced to hold only 50 miles worth of charge.
Outrageous Repair Cost
Tyler Hoover owns a 2013 Tesla Model S P85, the battery of which was not holding up enough charge. Hoover took his unwarranted car to Tesla for repair only to return in utter shock. According to Tesla, he would need to replace the entire battery for a total of $22,500. This is appalling given a used Tesla costs around $23,000 (according to Kelley Blue Book value). Hoover can simply buy a brand new Tesla car instead of replacing a battery, but that shouldn't be the case.
A Tesla customer should be able to repair the battery at less than or half a price of a brand new host vehicle, and this is where Rich Benoit comes to the rescue.
Battery Repair & Software Restrictions
Rich Benoit holds incredible knowledge concerning the nuances of electric cars and has hacked Tesla vehicles multiple times. He has even built his own electric vehicle using different discarded parts. So, it is safe to say, Benoit knows what he's talking about. He was able to find a mechanic who could repair the battery for about $5,000, which is 75% less than what the folks at Tesla were charging.
This leaves customers with no option. You either buy a new battery for almost the same price as a used Tesla or just don't do anything. According to Benoit, gas-powered vehicles are much harder to work on than electric vehicles, but Tesla has marketed their vehicles as complicated machines that can only be operated on by "certified Tesla technicians."
No matter how easy the repairs are, the issue arises due to software restrictions. Tesla vehicle is based around their software, and everything is locked behind the software restrictions that only these "certified Tesla technicians" can access.
Tesla released a set of diagnostic software called Toolbox that can help a technician or a Tesla owner know what's wrong with their Tesla vehicle. These are generally licensed by Tesla technicians, but anyone can own the Toolbox if they're willing to pay $3,000 annually or $100 for 24 hrs.
The main issue arises when a technician tries to replace a part inside a Tesla. That is when the diagnostic tools are required, hence the reason Tesla owners are required to go to the Tesla certified technicians.
Tesla Fans Backlash
Rich Benoit made a video about the $5,000 repair that gained the attention of the Tesla fans, who then decided to take it up to Twitter to tear Benoit's video apart. The fans accused Benoit of lying about the repair cost and also said that his "cheap" repair wouldn't last a year.
The whole discussion has many mini-subjects, but the main subject that the fans have held on to is the visual aid Benoit used in his video. In the video, Benoit tells the viewers how Tesla quoted $22,000 to replace the Model S battery. As he was speaking, the official Tesla invoice for a Model S battery repair was shown on the video as a visual aid and not as proof. The fans took note of the fact that the date indicated in the invoice was from 2019.
This is where the fans decided to take it to Twitter and point this out. They question why they chose to publish this video after over two years.
OH MY - ELECTREK SUPER-FUD
There is another major problem with this Electrek article
The "Tesla receipt" shown for the "Model S Battery Replacement" is dated 07/26/2019
The story was published today 13/09/2021, over two years later
— JPR007 (@jpr007) September 13, 2021
Benoit posted a follow-up video detailing everything with even further evidence that showed that the price to replace a Tesla battery is, in fact, around $20,000 or more.
There were several posts on the official Tesla forum with people discussing the battery price. One individual even posted their receipt showcasing the battery replacement cost of a 2021 Tesla Model S, among others. The receipt was dated November 2020.
Benoit then responded to some of the Tesla fans with the official price of the battery found on the official Tesla Electronic Parts Catalogue (EPC). The price on the official EPC is $22,500.
This is direct from Tesla EPC pic.twitter.com/lJ1S9mvZ0o
— Rich Rebuilds (@RebuildsRich) September 14, 2021
You might also be wondering if we really need a certified Tesla technician to replace a Tesla part, then how come Benoit and his team managed to replace Hoover's Tesla battery? According to Benoit, they have "alternate means of getting into things." He said they do not need the Toolbox, although it would make their work much easier and more manageable.
Benoit has compared Tesla's software locks and restrictions to that of Apple's restrictions with their iPhone. This is one of the main reasons why Benoit and many others like him call for the authorities to look into and implement proper right-to-repair legislation.
Companies are making it harder for everyday folks to repair their equipment themselves. Customers are often forced to go to certified dealership to get repairs done. Companies need to understand that not everyone needs to be tech-savvy to be able to do basic repairs on their machinery and equipment.
There has been promising progress towards right-to-repair thanks to an executive order signed by President Biden that calls on the manufacturing companies to ease the repairing loopholes.