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Will an 8 year old Model S be almost worthless?

Ingineer

Electrical Engineer
Aug 8, 2012
1,507
3,699
I don't think keeping out of warranty Tesla's on the road is going to be a problem. I've restored plenty of cars that were already considered done. There is a plentiful supply of used parts and I predict there will be plenty of aftermarket.

I can and have already repaired many of the systems in the car that Tesla just replaces outright, such as the IC, MCU, Drive Inverter, etc.

The Model S is quite easy to work on compared to other cars and it's internal diagnostic capability is second to none, even comparing it to commercial avionics systems.
 

GJ79

Member
Mar 15, 2016
266
89
Tampa
I don't think keeping out of warranty Tesla's on the road is going to be a problem. I've restored plenty of cars that were already considered done. There is a plentiful supply of used parts and I predict there will be plenty of aftermarket.

I can and have already repaired many of the systems in the car that Tesla just replaces outright, such as the IC, MCU, Drive Inverter, etc.

The Model S is quite easy to work on compared to other cars and it's internal diagnostic capability is second to none, even comparing it to commercial avionics systems.

Can you please move to the Tampa area ??? :)
 
May 31, 2016
119
157
Belmont, CA
Yeah, except numerous folks here have been thru multiple drive units.

As for "the tranny, the increasingly complex emissions stuff", seems like automatic transmissions at least on reliable Japanese brands tend to last a lot longer than DUs. It is not often I hear of transmissions needing replacement for any reason on Toyotas, Hondas, or Subarus by say the 90K mile mark. As for emissions stuff, FWIW, my hybrid ICEV and that of my mother's are AT-PZEV, so they're mandated to have a 15 year/150K mile emissions warranty (https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/warranty.pdf).

Also see Lifespan/Operating costs for my example of long-lived Priuses.

BTW, here are some examples (I have MANY more) of people having many DU replacements and some early failures:
Drive Unit Replacement Poll
Drive unit replacement - getting better?
New Model S Drive Unit Replaced at 734 Miles
Dual engine shut down on freeway. Anyone else?
Drive Unit Failed - Dashcam video
Clunks, Drones and Milling sounds: Just had a drive unit fail

Yes, sorry to hear about that. Hoping that a) they fix it for you and others and b) they have enough engineering resources to find and eliminate it going forward, esp the problems that will drift into other lines (X, 3, Y, etc).

As for Japanese reliability, it's good, maybe great, but not bulletproof. Google search 'Lexus/Toyota engine sludge' or 'Honda Odyssey transmission' issues, both of which at first, the companies refused to acknowledge there even was a problem. And coming from an Accord, they put substandard brake pads on all v6 ones from the start so yes, people were eating a brake pad/rotor replacement costs at low mileage.

We could go back and forth on this all day. I guess my point is, b/c of emissions and fleet fuel averages, ICE engines are getting more complex, more computerized.

If they figure out the Tesla DU issues, all things held equal, they'll have an inherently more reliable platform.
 

Saghost

Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
8,217
7,010
Delaware
If they figure out the Tesla DU issues, all things held equal, they'll have an inherently more reliable platform.

Not many posts about getting one replaced recently, are there?

Elon said last year that they finally figured out the real cause of the noise that led to most of the replacements - which turned out to be fairly simple and external to the unit itself.

More importantly, all of those replacements were on the older rear drive motor - which is now only installed on the PXXD cars and RWD base Ss - the vast majority of cars built today have two of the newer small drive motors, which AFAIK haven't had any replacement history on the forum to date at all.
 

GJ79

Member
Mar 15, 2016
266
89
Tampa
Not many posts about getting one replaced recently, are there?

Elon said last year that they finally figured out the real cause of the noise that led to most of the replacements - which turned out to be fairly simple and external to the unit itself.

More importantly, all of those replacements were on the older rear drive motor - which is now only installed on the PXXD cars and RWD base Ss - the vast majority of cars built today have two of the newer small drive motors, which AFAIK haven't had any replacement history on the forum to date at all.

Mine got replaced for the second time about 3 months ago !
 

Ingineer

Electrical Engineer
Aug 8, 2012
1,507
3,699
It's important to note whether your replacement is a NEW or REMAN DU. It seems like the REMAN units just don't last long. After a few of these, I would insist on a NEW unit.
 
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Don85D

Member
Mar 25, 2016
331
290
Markham, Ontario
I am taking our Model S in for 24 month service (fluid changes) and I will ask that they change the gear lube as well. It has been my experience that 'lifetime' lubes are OK after the initial wear debris has been removed. Draining it now a refilling should prevent future problems.

This may be old school thinking but I am set in my ways.
 

Mark Z

Active Member
Mar 12, 2013
1,848
1,325
North Orange County
An out-of-warranty Tesla may be more valuable since 3rd party repair could specialize in quality repairs in a timely manner.

The phone call just came and Model X repairs have been completed after 8 weeks and two days. Parts delays were the major contributor to a two month wait. Tesla Motors needs to manufacture more spare parts and have an effective distribution system in place to speed repairs for service centers and other authorized repair locations.
 
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theboom1

Member
Apr 24, 2016
209
25
Alabama
I hope the aftermarket for electric cars grows and does it quickly along with the infrastructure like charging stations with it after electric cars take off (don't know when that will be though). I don't want to buy one until it does. I would like to be able to swap out an old depleted or out of date battery for a fresh new one for a price that does not break the bank and I like modifying cars so I want the aftermarket to come out with more powerful batteries, motors, inverters, transmissions that I can modify my car with.

In fact if I had the money and they would sell it to me I would love to buy 3 sets of rimac's battery, motors, gearboxes, and other components and soft-where of the drivetrain out of the concept one (preferably the concept s for those who know what that is). With one set I want to put it in a much lighter chassis than rimacs's concepts. If your not aware that while they use a carbon fiber body, the rest of the basic tub and structure and other components are mostly steel or alloys. If you swapped all that out along with other things like the wheels and structure components with carbon fiber like what companies like mclaren and especially koenigsegg do, you could cut A LOT of weight out. Based on a little research if you went as extreme as koenigsegg and other similar companies, it could be as much as 4-500lbs! I guess even tho the car costs 1mil you cant blame a company with so little resources for not using carbon fiber everywhere. Just think what a 3500lb 1350hp awd electric hypercar with a two speed highly efficient dual clutch trans and 4 wheel independent torque vectoring with high downforce would be like!!!!

Second set I would put in a lightened model s (using carbon fiber again for the basic structure, I did say "if i had the money" right? :D)
And the third I would put in a custom built super duty truck but swapping out the gears in the gearboxes to much lower for towing.

As far as resale value of electric cars in the future? Im in the group that thinks replacement or upgrade aftermarket batteries for cheaper prices will keep the values up.
 

Johnj2803

Member
Dec 8, 2020
33
5
Miami
I came across this thread just now because I am looking to purchase one of the original signature Model S produced in 2012. It has low mileage. I wonder what the consensus is now after almost 5 years since this thread started?
 

electricar

Member
Jul 31, 2018
252
247
NotCal
A 2012 Signature Model S will end up being a good buy as a collectible/hobby car and will go up in value in the future but using it as a daily driver would end up being more expensive than buying or leasing a new or late model used Tesla. This true of any old luxury car but even more pronounced in the case of Tesla because they have built a moat around their new car sales by restricting the availability of diagnostic and programming software, parts, and special tools just like Apple has with their phones. This is by design and has worked well so far and won't be changing anytime soon.
 
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zer0cool

Member
Apr 26, 2015
506
332
charlotte, nc
This past year has been a major anomaly in used car prices. Prices are unusually high due to various shortages and work stoppage that have limited new car production. As things return to normal, used car prices should return to normal and the 8+ year model S's should then fall to normal levels for 8+ year old luxury sedans.
 
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AMPd

Active Member
Nov 27, 2012
4,522
3,891
Northern California
I came across this thread just now because I am looking to purchase one of the original signature Model S produced in 2012. It has low mileage. I wonder what the consensus is now after almost 5 years since this thread started?
Don’t take this the wrong way but, the question is are you buying an 8 year old luxury car because that’s what you can afford or because it’s cheap?
If it’s the newest you can afford to get a model s then it’s a bad idea, as @electricar pointed out it’s a bad idea to buy any old luxury car, especially a Tesla, since now we have a pretty good idea on the replacement cost of the battery and the motor. Neither are cheap.

But if you have the money and are only buying an old model because it’s cheap then I guess go for it if you’re willing to risk it.
 
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gaswalla

Model S,3,X.. CT with Austin delivery
Sep 23, 2012
3,379
3,719
San Diego
I actually believe that a 2012 Model S with a lot of miles is a better purchase than one with low miles. A high mileage car will have fixed the issues that needed to be addressed early on. Especially if things were fixed with v3 or v4 of that part, it’ll last forever.
 

Johnj2803

Member
Dec 8, 2020
33
5
Miami
Don’t take this the wrong way but, the question is are you buying an 8 year old luxury car because that’s what you can afford or because it’s cheap?
If it’s the newest you can afford to get a model s then it’s a bad idea, as @electricar pointed out it’s a bad idea to buy any old luxury car, especially a Tesla, since now we have a pretty good idea on the replacement cost of the battery and the motor. Neither are cheap.

But if you have the money and are only buying an old model because it’s cheap then I guess go for it if you’re willing to risk it.
Buying it because its cheap. The idea of getting another Tesla as a second car is nice. It will be daily driver for me but really short commute less than 10 miles to work and back. Thank you. Probably not risking it :D
 
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cduzz

Member
Jun 6, 2019
419
519
boston ma
Tesla hasn't demonstrated itself one way or another WRT the long-term viability of their cars.

They seem to somewhat support the roadster, which is encouraging. They don't offer much if any support to 3rd party shops, which is discouraging. Their parts prices and shop rates aren't horrifying relative to other similar market cars, but they're terrifying relative to an old toyota/honda/gm.

You're going to get pecked at by little things like door handle failures, weird electronics failures, and suspension issues. You may get crushed by a traction or drive unit failure (each is a $10k+ part).

I think the earlier S cars will be somewhere on the W8 Passat / V10 TDI Touareg scale of pain. Maybe if you get a good one it'll be in the Tiguan with 200k miles range of pain. IE doable but ... a lifestyle choice not appropriate for all.

The *big* question is what happens to these cars if tesla decides to abandon them? They could be totally unsupportable if tesla decides to not offer spare parts supplies for them. Like "Owning a Citroën in South Dakota in the late 80s" unsupportable. (IE Good luck finding new window mouldings for an 89 Sterling 827)

There's every reason to imagine Tesla abandoning these cars, and if they did they'd become hazardous waste pretty fast.

Hopefully that doesn't happen and they continue to provide parts and service for these cars on into the future, in which case they'd just be somewhat expensive to run but not worthless.

Anyhow, the croupier's already spun the wheel; put your money on your numbers and see where the ball lands.
 

maximizese

Member
Jan 16, 2018
476
454
California
Buying it because its cheap. The idea of getting another Tesla as a second car is nice. It will be daily driver for me but really short commute less than 10 miles to work and back. Thank you. Probably not risking it :D
I did the same. I bought a used 2013 S85 knowing that I could have a potential $20K repair a few years down the road should something catastrophic happen with the battery pack outside of the warranty. While even used, it was the most expensive car I've purchased but I needed a car that qualified for the solo-HOV access, had plenty of funds in reserve, and it would be nice for my wife to be able to drive 110 miles to work and back without needing to charge at the office. We also have a 2013 Fiat 500e that she used as commuter car but the HOV decal expired and range was limited such that she HAD to charge at the office among some 50+ other EV drivers.

I bought the car hoping that 3rd party support would have grown faster as Tesla employee turnover remained high, and I was hoping that the grow adoption of Tesla vehicles would drive the parts and service costs down. Neither seems to be playing out in a significant way. I would love for our 103K mile old car to be more sustainable I would happily pay $20K for an upgraded battery if I could get some assurances that the replacement pack would last another 4yr/125K miles. However, I'm prepared to part the car should some catastrophic failure present with no upgradeable battery option with warranty.

I wouldn't recommend or not recommend an older Model S, but I would strongly consider a used BMW i3 with the medium or larger battery pack for your commute. Having a small EV is great in a metro area or crowded tourist town...parking, maneuvering, and navigating through traffic is much easier than in the Model S. I'd say the S shines on intermediate to long trips; the long wheelbase, aerodynamic shape, and driver sight-line makes the car a pleasure to drive with minimal fatigue.
 
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cduzz

Member
Jun 6, 2019
419
519
boston ma
dang... it's been 9 years and the "Brand New Model S" would lead me to believe that Tesla has no plans of abandoning the Model S

True -- that's encouraging. But keeping an old car on the road is more than just having a current version of the same car on the road.

Tesla has done an admirable job of making newer iterations of parts work on the older cars; see for instance the newer battery packs or updated drive units. Other companies will make a terrible mistake in a part and just keep selling that busted (or will be busted after 2 years) part forever until everyone gives up. See also audi valve tensioner or tiptronic transmission.

Other things are important to the car that aren't in newer versions of the S; IE what happens if tesla drops availability of the 40a charger or other stuff that's exclusive to the early generation of the S platform? They're the only supplier and if they stop it isn't like Bosch or ACDelco is going to make pattern parts.

Also, availability of things like trim parts is actually important to keeping a car in good shape. Once an Audi owner lets the amazing 57 part hydraulic cup holder break and stay broken, it's probably only 2 years away from the salvage yard.

So far though, I am cautiously optimistic that they'll support these things for a reasonably long time. The MCU upgrade is a perfect example of how they're supporting "legacy" cars in a way that seems to indicate that they're not going to just abandon them.
 

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