Service – “Number 6”

My Model S is five years old and quickly approaching 80,000. My ICE and all of my other cars for the last 20 plus years give you little warnings “time for service” on the dash. I’ve often found these warnings to be a bit annoying, but I’ve been a bit trained to expect them. I sort of figured it was about time and took it in last week.

Tesla has two types of annual service inspections: odd numbered and even numbered. The odd numbered services: 1, 3, 5 etc… are lighter services, and the even numbered ones are more substantial. The prices for the Model S and Model X vary also $475 for the odd year services and $725 – $850 for the even number services.  When I bought the car, I did purchase a maintenance plan that was packaged at the time as a “four year service plan”.

As I have documented in detail on the blog, my car has been in for numerous times for issues with the 21” wheels and some other issues. Somehow my car was serviced at Year 1, Year 2 and Year 4 but I skipped the Year 3 and Year 5 service. I purchased the “4-Year Maintenance Plan” but the fine terms were never very clear to me. Technically the plan expired last month, but my service advisor permitted me to get the service done as part of the pre-purchased package. A friendly dashboard or email reminder that the plan was about to expire from Tesla would have been greatly appreciated.

Because of my well documented hassles with the 21” wheels, I did get a free 2 year 25,000 mile warranty plan. Luckily I did because I had my touchscreen replaced during that period. Now, I am driving the car with no warranty, and no maintenance plan. Because I had an extended warranty even for only two years, there is no option for me to extend my warranty any further.

Service Plans and Regular Service?

A question from this time forward is how often I should be servicing my Model S and in what manner.

Lets look in detail what happens at the less expensive odd year $475 services:

1. Key fob battery replacement
2. Wiper blade set replacement
3. Tire rotation
4. Wheel alignment check
5. Multi-point inspection

Key Fob Battery Replacement

I appreciate that the battery replacement is part of the service, but this task is quite easy to do on your own and is well documented.

Replacing Wiper Blades

Replacing wiper blades is an easy task. You can buy the wipers online, and easily install them in less than 10 minutes. This video is a good description of how to do it yourself.

Tire Management

Rotating tires, aligning the wheels, and buying new tires are somewhat generic tasks. I have a fabulous garage within walking distance of my home. I also order my tires through the internet instead of buying them through a garage or Tesla. So for any of these tasks, unless there is extenuating circumstances, I do not plan on doing tire work through Tesla. I’m so thrilled I bought 19” wheels to replace the 21” wheels. They now have 15,000 miles on them and have worn very evenly with all specifications at an even 5/32 across the board! Most likely in 6 months I’ll take them in to the local shop to have them rotated and replaced if necessary.

Multi-point Inspection

The most nebulous thing on the shorter maintenance is the multi-point inspection. I think for the most part these are done with just daily use of the car. You would notice if a door stopped opening, or the horn did not honk. Perhaps it is nice that they check these but seems really unnecessary every 12,500 miles.  Here is the full list of what is included in the multi-point inspection.

  1. Pulled logs and checked for active faults. Are there any active faults that the car would not warn you about that would only be found at a service center?
  2. Checked firmware version. Updated to the latest version.
  3. Performed function check of closures (moving glass, doors, trunks): Cleaned and lubricated latches.
  4. Tested and inspected charging with shop’s cable.
  5. Remoteless Keyless Entry
  6. Seat belts and latches
  7. Interior/ exterior lighting and horn
  8. Performed inspection of powertrain and chassis components.
  9. Checked fluid levels:  topped off washer fluid.  Brake and coolant levels optimal.

In summary, I can replace my fob battery, and windshield wipers if needed by myself. I’ll get my tires rotated down the street. I can top off my washer fluid, and I’m okay not having the powertrain and brake and coolant levels checked that often.  I’m more than comfortable skipping the multi-point inspection. So I have no plans to take my car in for service 7.

Even year maintenance

The even year maintenance, or once every 25,000 miles performs all the above operations plus ones that I would not do myself, and seem important enough.

1. A/C desiccant bag replacement
2. Battery coolant replacement (only every 50,000 miles)
3. Brake fluid replacement
4. Cabin air filter replacement


I’ll wait for about 8,000 miles and have my tires rotated. I’ll skip the odd numbered maintenance at Tesla, and wait around 25,000 miles for a regular maintenance.
So at around 105,000 miles I’ll have service 8 done, and I’ll pay it out of my pocket for $850.


Gas Stations

A rare visit to a gas station

A rare visit to a gas station

Can we predict the future of gas stations?  Will they exist in 100 years?  What will happen with all the extra real estate on street corners?  Will some be converted to electric car charging stations?

I’m retesting the Vampire Drain on my Tesla with firmware 5.8, so I am forced to drive my ICE around town for a couple of weeks.  I didn’t realize how much I do not really care for gas stations as I had not been to one in four months.  And how positively lovely it is to fill up your car at home.

For me gas stations are not particularly convenient.  When I found one on my journey today I actually forgot which side the tank was on my ICE!  We are experiencing quite a cold spell here (50 degrees Fahrenheit in California), and it was really quite cold standing outside pumping the gas.  And the pump was broken and could not be left in the latch on position, so I had to nurse the gas into the car.  Afterwards my hands had that distinct smell of gasoline.

I also forgot how busy gas stations can be with too many cars wrestling for a position at the pumps.  They also have lots of advertisements for various products and unappealing restrooms.

With the Tesla there are still two uses for a gas station:  air and window cleaning supplies.  The closest gas station to me will kindly fill up my tires.  Their air pump is not in a public access area, so an employee actually does the filling.  This particular business is one of the nicest I know.  I also have a standup bicycle pump I could use but it would take a while to fill four car tires.  A bottle of window cleaner, a squeegee and a towel solve the window cleaning issue.

Filling up at home is so much more convenient.  A small but lovely luxury and I think the true wave of the future.

Can You Smell the Fumes?

Can You Smell the Fumes?


Windshield Wiper P85+

I had forgotten to add this information to my earlier post about my review of the P85+ loaner.  Partially as the problem was so minor, but also the problem was so strange.

Twice when driving the loaner, the windshield wipers turned on ever so slightly, and quickly turned off.  The blades rose about 5″ up and then retired back to its resting position.  In both cases, I did not turn on the wipers and in one case I had a witness.  Since it is summer here in California and we had a very dry winter, I actually think I have only used the windshield wipers on my Model S only twice.  I actually could not tell you where the controls are before I wrote this post.

In both these mysterious cases, I know I did not accidentally hit the lever as my hands and arms were in front of the steering wheel.  These odd occurrences only happened in the loaner in the four days I drove it, never in my own Model S.

In order to write this post, I decided to take a photo of the windshield wiper system.  To my surprise there are two asymetrical windshield wipers, one large windshield wiper, and a smaller one on the passenger side shown in the photo below.  It sure has been dry here as I did not even know I had two windshield wipers.   I also experimented with the mechanism for turning on the windshield wiper and found it to be quite difficult to turn on accidentally as it requires a turn of a knob at the end of the windshield wiper control, not an accidental brush of the entire stick.

Smaller Windshield Wiper Blade

Smaller Windshield Wiper Blade