How Long Do Tesla Model 3 Last? (Solved & Explained)

The Tesla Model 3 was introduced with much fanfare surrounding it as it was slated to be (and still is) Tesla’s most affordable vehicle and its first ever mass-market offering. 

Despite being priced significantly lower than previous Teslas, it still comes with all the amazing tech and performance that Tesla is known for.

If you’re thinking about owning a Model 3, you might be wondering about its average lifespan. 

We’ll cover that is this article and much more, read on to find out…

Here is the short answer to how long Tesla Model 3 last:

The Model 3’s batteries can last from 300,000 to 500,000 miles while Elon Musk claims that the body and drive units are designed for up to 1 million miles. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, you can expect the Model 3’s drivetrain to last up to 20 years — barring any other major component failures.

How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Tesla Model 3?

Electric Vehicles like the Model 3 have less moving parts because they don’t have a traditional engine or transmission which are subject to lots of heat and friction.

This means less maintenance over time and lower cost of ownership.

The main concern with any electric vehicle is the lifespan of their batteries.

Every charge cycle will reduce its capacity just a tiny bit, and after several years, the reduction in range can be significant.

The Model 3’s batteries are rated for at least 1,500 charge cycles, and with some care, you can easily exceed this figure.

If you take the base model’s 260-mile range and charge it 1,500 times, you can rack up approximately 300,000 miles.

With the Model 3 Long Range going up to 350 miles per charge, you can reasonably expect the batteries to last 500,000 miles.

While no one has reached the million-mile mark in any Tesla as of yet, there are many people with older Teslas (Model S and Model X) who have surpassed 300,000 miles with their original batteries still intact and with relatively minimal degradation. 

Tesla has also learned a lot from their older models and you can expect them to have made significant changes while designing the Model 3 to make them last even longer.

How Soon Should You Expect Rust on a Tesla Model 3?

Unlike the Model S and Model X, the Model 3 is mostly made of steel instead of aluminum in order to save cost. 

In addition, Tesla has long been criticized for their paint jobs which are sprayed on rather thin.

This makes them more prone to chips and scratches which exposes the bare metal underneath.

Some have reported seeing traces of rust start to appear in just under a year of use. 

Despite this, excessive rust doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue even for the oldest Model 3s that are currently on the road.

Most complaints so far appear to be cosmetic in nature (surface rust).

Another thing to keep in mind is that although the Model 3’s fenders are made of steel, the rear chassis, which includes the wheel wells, is made of aluminum. So that part of the vehicle should be safe from oxidation even if it’s exposed to a lot of road salt in the winter.

If you want to avoid premature formation of rust on your Model 3, here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Wash or rinse the underside regularly during the winter
  • Apply paint protection such as ceramic coating or paint protection film
  • Install mud flaps to protect the body from road salts and debris kicked up by the tires
  • Apply rustproofing to the underside of the vehicle
  • Keep the car garaged to protect it from the elements
  • Address chips and scratches as quickly as possible by using touchup paint

Note that aftermarket rustproofing voids the Model 3’s 12-year rust warranty, but if you’re really concerned about protecting your vehicle from excessive rust, prevention is really the only solution.

You may also be interested in our article: where are Tesla Model 3 made?

How Long Does the Tesla Model 3 Last Compared to Similar Car Models?

The Model 3 is quite unique because there are no other midsize EV sedans on the market in the same price bracket.

But let’s take a look at how it stacks up against other vehicles that many would consider its closest competitors.

Model 3 vs. Chevy Bolt

While the Tesla Model Y and Model 3 are number 1 and 2 on the sales charts, the Chevy Bolt hatchback sits at a very close third. 

It’s more affordable than the Model 3 with its significant discounts and offers similar range to the base model Model 3.

However, Chevrolet does not publish hard data about how many charge cycles its batteries are rated for. 

But GM has been making EVs even longer than Tesla, and the Bolt is already in its second generation — the Chevy Volt being the first. So it’s safe to assume that the Bolt will take you to 300,000 miles — just like the Model 3 — with not much issue. 

The Bolt is also rated higher than the Model 3 for Predicted Reliability and Owner Satisfaction. 

  • Consumer Reports gives the Model 3 a 3 out of 5 for Predicted Reliability
  • Consumer Reports gives the Chevy Bolt a 5 out of 5 for Predicted Reliability

Chevy also offers an 8-year or 100,000-mile warranty for its battery — similar to the Model 3.

Winner: Chevy Bolt

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Chevy Bolt’s Last?

Model 3 vs. Mustang Mach-E

The Mustang Mach-E has only just been released but it definitely has its sights set on the Model 3 and the Model Y. 

It’s priced similarly, has a multitude of options, similar range, and its performance is right up there with the Teslas. 

Since it’s just been released, there’s not much information about high mileage Mustang Mach-Es. 

One thing that the Mustang Mach-E has got going for it is build quality. Ford has been making cars for over a century — just like GM. It’s got car manufacturing down to a science, and the Mach-E doesn’t have all the build quality issues and niggles that Model 3s have been plagued with since its introduction. 

The Mustang Mach-E has the same battery warranty as the Model 3 at 8 years and 100,000 miles, so it’s reasonable to expect to get at least 10 years of service out of the vehicle. 

Consumer Reports gives the Mustang Mach-E 3 out of 5 for Predicted Reliability, which is similar to the Model 3. But it’s really too early to tell whether it deserves that rating. 

So far, Mustang Mach-E has been praised for its build quality which is more than can be said for the Model 3 — especially its earlier versions.

On top of the 8-year or 100,000-mile drivetrain warranty that Ford offers with the Mustang Mach-E, it wouldn’t be ludicrous to assume that it wouldn’t last the same 300,000 miles that the Model 3 claims it can achieve. 

Winner: Draw

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Ford Mustang Mach-E Last?

Model 3 vs. BMW 3 series

Although the BMW 3 series still doesn’t come in an EV variant, we can’t ignore the fact that many people who are looking to buy the Model 3 would also consider a similarly priced German luxury sedan like the BMW.

After all, a lot of Tesla buyers see Model 3 as a luxury brand and want to be seen driving around in a premium vehicle. In the same way, a BMW would also fit the bill.

The 3 series is also the best selling car in its segment, which is quite a feat considering its competition from the likes of Audi, Mercedes and Lexus. 

Although BMWs have a reputation for being unreliable after the warranty has expired, these are often the case for vehicles that haven’t been properly taken care of. 

Apart from electrical niggles, you can expect a modern BMW 3 series to last between 200,000 – 250,000 miles / 13 – 17 years on the original drivetrain.

This is noticeably less than the Model 3’s promised 300,000 mile longevity, but still very respectable for an internal combustion vehicle. 

Winner: Tesla Model 3

How Reliable is the Tesla Model 3?

Tesla has been plagued with build quality complaints for years, which is no surprise since it’s competing with manufacturers with at least half a century of experience.

The Model 3 is no different even after gaining a lot of insight with their older models. 

The Model 3 is Tesla’s first mass-market vehicle and they had to deal with lots of teething issues to meet the demand and their target of half a million vehicles to get them in the hands of consumers. 

But once you look past the rattles, paint issues, and panel gaps, the Model 3’s underpinnings, software, and major drivetrain components are quite solid. 

So far, after several years in the market, there have been no reports of catastrophic failures that would leave you stranded in a Model 3.

Despite all the modern tech it comes loaded with, which are all potential points of failure, the Model 3 is an extremely reliable vehicle. 

You don’t have to worry about spontaneous combustion or having major failures while driving — unlike some high strung supercars that regularly ply the streets of Los Angeles, New York, Miami or London. 

You may also be interested in our article: how long do Tesla Model S last?

The Best and Worst Years for the Tesla Model 3

The best years of the Model 3 will always be the latest versions where they introduce improvements to the range. 

For example, the earlier versions only had a 220-mile range while the latest models for 2021 with their improved batteries and drive units boast over 260 miles per charge.

The Long Range Model 3’s went from 350 miles to 380 miles. 

You’ll also want to avoid earlier models built while Tesla was trying to push for half a million units shipped because these were the times when build quality was at its worst as employees were simply overworked to meet their targets — and lots of owners complained of shoddy workmanship.  

What About Recalls for These Models? 

Despite all the complaints about Tesla build quality over the past few years, the Model 3 has only had 2 recalls. 

  • Loose brake caliper bolts for around 6,000 2019 to 2021 Model 3s and Model Ys
  • Seat belt recall for 7,000 2018 to 2020 Model 3s and Model Ys

Tesla Model 3 Model Year List

  • 2017 Model 3 – initial release 
  • 2018 Model 3 – improved seats
  • 2019 Model 3 – hardware 3.0 computer
  • 2021 Model 3 – new electric motors and higher capacity batteries

Are Tesla Model 3 Expensive to Maintain?

Compared to a car that uses an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), the Model 3 costs significantly less to maintain. 

Its drive units (electric motors) don’t produce a lot of heat so they don’t need complicated cooling systems to keep them running.

It also doesn’t have a ton of mechanical parts, plastic and rubber that simply degrade over time. 

You also won’t have to deal with periodic oil changes or even transmission issues because it doesn’t use a traditional transmission that has lots of gears and requires fluids to keep them all lubricated.

The 2-year/25,000-mile service recommended by Tesla should cost you less than $500 for a brake service and changing out cabin filters, as well as other general maintenance items.

How Long do the Brakes Last?

The Tesla Model 3 uses regenerative braking to help slow the vehicle down. 

Basically, it’s a system that uses the vehicle’s kinetic energy while it’s rolling to charge the battery, and at the same time, it slows the vehicle down.

So you just have to lift your foot off the accelerator if you want to come to a stop and not have to step on the brakes too much.

This significantly improves the lifespan of the brake pads and rotors. 

Tesla recommends a brake service/fluid flush every 25,000 miles or every 2 years to ensure everything is in good shape.

But you could theoretically extend the brake service interval for much longer than that depending on driving habits and the type of traffic you drive in.

Please also read our article: how long do Tesla Model Y last

How Long do the Tires Last?

While most vehicles can exceed 50,000 miles on one set of tires, the Model 3 can use up tires in 20,000 to 25,000 miles.

This is due to the amount of instantaneous torque the electric motors can put on the tires which wears them out quicker. 

If you want to prolong the life of your tires, you should regularly rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or so, so that they wear out evenly.

How Long do the Spark Plugs Last?

The Tesla Model doesn’t use any spark plugs and relies entirely on battery power.

How Long do the Transmissions Last?

Tesla has done extensive testing on its drive units and it has shown that these can last up to 1 million miles with minimal wear.

Unlike traditional transmissions that have lots of rotating gears that are constantly switching from one gear to another, the Tesla Model 3 uses a direct-drive system. 

The electric motor handles all the rotational forces required to get the vehicle up to speed, so the gears aren’t constantly banging against each other which would normally cause them to wear out.

What is the range of the Tesla Model 3?

In the latest 2021 models, ranges have improved to 260 miles for the Standard Range, 315 miles for the Performance, and 350 miles for the Long Range model. 

How long Do Tesla Model 3 Batteries Last?

When it was first introduced, the Model 3 Standard Range could go up to 220 miles, and over 1,500 charge cycles, it should add up to approximately 300,000 miles. 

With the Model 3 Long Range, you can go up to 350, which should add up to around 500,000 miles.

How Long Does the Tesla Model 3 Take to Charge?

There are multiple ways to charge a Model 3.

You can plug a Tesla charger to a standard AC power plug, have a dedicated Wall Connector installed, or via a Tesla Supercharger while on the road. 

The wall socket option will be slower while the Supercharger option is the fastest. 

Here are the typical charging rates for the Model 3:

Charger TypeRange per Hour of Charge0 to 100% Charge
120 volt / 15 amps 33 to 5 days
240 volt / 32 amps308 to 12 hours
Wall Connector447 to 8 hours

On the road, you can charge via a Tesla Supercharger and get an extra 175 miles of range every 15 minutes.

This should take your Model 3 around 30 to 45 minutes to charge from 0 to 100%.

Keep in mind, for regular commuting needs, you likely won’t be depleting your battery anywhere close to 0% if you’re just driving around town or from one city to another. 

Even with the slowest charging option, an overnight charge should be enough to get the Model 3 ready for its next trip.

Constantly using a Supercharger is also not recommended because it degrades the battery much faster.

What About Insurance Cost?

On average, the Tesla Model 3 is more expensive to insure than other vehicles. 

You’ll typically get quotes ranging from $1,700 to $2,200 a year which translates to $140 to $180 per month. Compare this with average insurance costs of $1,400 for similarly priced vehicles. 

Of course, this all depends on your age, driving record, and state. And your rates can drop significantly lower or be much higher based on a lot of other criteria. 

Tips to Prolong the Life of your Tesla Model 3

  1. Don’t drain the battery to 0%
  2. Avoid charging over 80% unless you’re preparing for a long trip
  3. Charge at home versus via a Supercharger
  4. Rotate your tires
  5. Use regenerative braking to extend range
  6. Address paint issues upon delivery
  7. Don’t leave it outside in extremely cold or hot weather

Resources

https://www.tesla.com/model3/

https://www.thedrive.com/news/24242/tesla-shows-off-model-3-drive-unit-after-one-million-miles-of-driving

https://electrek.co/2019/04/13/tesla-model-3-longevity-claims-elon-musk/

https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/tesla-model-x-recall-power-steering-road-salt/

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/02/tesla-recalls-nearly-6000-model-3-and-model-y-cars-over-loose-bolt-risk.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/03/tesla-recalling-up-to-7696-vehicles-over-seatbelt-issues-in-us.html

https://www.cars.com/research/tesla-model_3/recalls/

https://electrek.co/2017/08/22/tesla-model-3-body-alloy-mix/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brookecrothers/2021/04/18/electric-car-buy-2021-on-price-reliability-chevy-bolt-ev-has-a-leg-up-on-tesla-model-3/

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/02/tesla-recalls-nearly-6000-model-3-and-model-y-cars-over-loose-bolt-risk.html

https://www.edmunds.com/car-news/2021-tesla-model-3-long-range-falls-short-of-epa.html

https://enginepatrol.com/where-are-tesla-model-s-made/

https://enginepatrol.com/how-long-nissan-leaf-last/