Model S Annual Service

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Annual Service SheetI’m still shy of the 12 month mark on owning my Model S, but I just had my first annual service and wanted to share my thoughts and experience on Tesla’s annual service.

Service Frequency

Tesla recommends that you have your Model S serviced every 12,500 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. This has always been problematic for me since I drive 30,000 miles a year. So by their rules i’d be getting an “annual” service every 5 months.

Unlike traditional ICE cars, unless you have Tesla do your tire rotations, you won’t be seeing regularly for planned service. It’s not like you’re going to be there for regular oil changes and they can add on to that service. When I took delivery of my Model S I asked them about this annual service and explained my mileage and the person at the time recommended having it done at 24,000 miles. The number seemed arbitrary as it wasn’t double the normal 12,500 miles and it wasn’t my annual number but I went with it.

Tesla is confused on Annual Service Frequency.

At 24,000 miles (less than 10 months into ownership) I called for an Annual Service appointment. The service person I spoke to was shocked I hadn’t had my car serviced yet with all those miles and I explained that I had been following their recommendation. My appointment was booked 3 weeks out. It wasn’t urgent so the timing was no big deal, but it did mean I went in with 25,500 miles for my first planned service.

Service Research

After the few odd calls I had with Tesla on service frequency I took to the TMC forums and asked what the story was. Pretty much universally owners are treating the annual service as just that, an annual service regardless of miles. Like my story, owners have received mixed guidance on this front.

This gets messier when combined with the pre-paid plan. When I did my analysis on the plan a while back I decided not to purchase it as the terms wouldn’t work for my mileage.

One owner received the following from Jerome Guillen, former VP, WW sales and service (he just changed roles):

Dear Mr. [AmpedRealtor]:
Any customer who has paid for a 4-year service plan is entitled to 4 “annual service” visits. The customer can elect to bring the car whenever they desire: we recommend every year or every 12,500 miles (whichever comes first), but the customer are free to do whatever they essentially desire. They can bring the car every 18 months or every 6 months. In the end, they will receive the 4 “annual service” they have paid for. I hope this clarifies the situation.
Many thanks for your continued support. Best regards,
Jerome Guillen | VP, WW sales and service

While thats a nice email and statement, it isn’t what the contract says when you sign up for the pre-paid plan. So while Elon, Jerome, and others have stated other things its hard to sign and pay for a contract that clearly states something different and then expect otherwise.

Ultimately, Tesla needs to get their act together on Annual Service and make sure the paperwork matches the intent.

It would seem that the intent is an annual service regardless of mileage and thats what i’ll be doing from now on.

The Service

The Annual Service price (if not pre-paid) is $600. Its an all-day affair and usually involves you dropping off your car and getting a loaner.

In many areas, Tesla offers a valet service (for free) where they’ll pick up your car and drop off a loaner, but they’ve started clamping down on that service. Now it seems they only want to do the valet service if you’re within 10 miles of the service center. I wasn’t offered valet service (I work 14 miles from the service center) and dropped my car off myself which wasn’t a big deal — I always love seeing all the Tesla’s on their lot.

The actual annual service was described as follows on my invoice:

Annual Service ListThey basically go over the car and check everything out. Along the way they’ll also perform any other needed updates that they see.

There was a service bulletin:

Bulletin: Model S | SB-14-17-002 | Corrosion on 12V Positive Jump Post

And I had some corrosion so they replaced the parts concerned.

They also did more than a normal “Annual” service since I was at twice the mileage for the annual and evidently they have different types of service at different mileages. This one they called:

24 Month/25000 Mile/40000 km Service (with Coil Suspension)

For that part of the service they removed, cleaned and lubricated front and rear brake pads and performed an alignment with some minor adjustments.

So while the service is annual, they do different things based on the mileage on the car again somewhat contradicting ideas of coming in whenever you want or only once a year regardless of mileage.

Extra Items

I generally build up a list of less urgent items to deal with next time I have to go in for service. Going into the service I had 2 open issues:

  1. One of my UMCs (charger for the Model S) was not working.
  2. My front right tire was rubbing noisily when turned the wheel hard at low speeds (usually reversing into a spot).

The UMC (my original one that came with the car) was faulty and they replaced it for free after testing it themselves. I’m a little concerned it didn’t even last a year before failing but at least it was covered by the warranty. Fortunately when it failed I had a spare and had started using that after several bad charges with the original UMC.

My UMC died in less than 10 months but Tesla replaced it for free.

For the front right tire rub complaint they did a front wheel alignment but mostly blamed the noise on my aftermarket Tsportsline wheels and Nokian tires. I don’t really buy that the aftermarket parts were the issue given there’s a forum discussion going on with owners with the exact same issue on the same front right wheel. But whatever they tweaked, it is much better now. I think their design tolerances in the wheel well are too tight.

Oddly they had an item on the service sheet as a customer complaint from me that I didn’t bring up when making the appointment:

Concern: Customer states cruise control is not working normally.

This was actually derived from an email to ownership a few months before the service about the problems around limited regeneration in the cold. It wasn’t a complaint about the car as it was working as designed, it was a suggestion that they may want to review how things worked in that area as I thought there was a safety issue.

Tesla collects complaints you email in and include them in the service checklist next time you’re in.

The Loaner

Blue P85+Any service event (planned or unplanned) is an opportunity to experience a Model S with a different configuration than what you purchased. Some will have more options than you picked, some less but I always enjoy the experience. While I was hoping for a P85D, I ended up with a nice blue P85+.

While the extra performance was nice, I wasn’t blown away by it and I had a lot more trouble with keeping the wheels from spinning. With my S85 I really have to work at losing traction and the traction control does a great job. With the P85+ (it had winter tires on too, Sottozero) the tires spun a lot and I didn’t like the experience — the power was too much for either the tires or the traction control or both.

The other thing the car had that was new for me was the Alcantara headliner. While I still worry about the maintenance on the dash, I really liked the look of it and would have to think hard on that option next time. I’d want to hear about maintenance/cleaning experiences first though.

Alcantara headliner

And because the news had just broken recently on the James Bond mode I also had to check that out too:

James Bond ModeNice! But to this day, I still haven’t found any good reason for air suspension. To me its a gimmick and I can’t really feel the difference with it and i’ve never bottomed out in my Model S.

Summary

My first paid service in over 25,000 miles cost a total of $600 and was a good experience and I think good value for what they did. Tesla did everything I expected and more and returned my car cleaner inside and out than it has been in many months of a harsh New England winter.

Bathed

These pristine looks didn’t even last for the drive home but I was happy to see it was still possible to get my car back to looking good. Spring will come some day.

Scrubbed

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