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Tesla Service Demystified

Tesla Service Demystified

If you were wondering at what point you would start seeing Tesla vehicles regularly in your local grocery parking lot, the answer is “now.” Tesla automobiles and SUVs were once a rarity on the streets but not anymore. Per the most recent October 2021 IHS Markit report there are over 1,419,000 electric vehicles on the road in the United States. Of those electric vehicles, Teslas make up nearly 68%of that fleet, or roughly 964,920 vehicles. At the current sales rate it won’t be long until there are over 1,000,000 Teslas rolling across the country and past your street. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what Tesla service options can be found at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store and NAPA AutoCare Center.

Parts is Parts

At their very essence Tesla vehicles are still just that, a vehicle. A power plant creates force through use of a fuel to generate rotational motion to drive the wheels. Except now that fuel is electrons and the powerplant is a large brushless electric motor. But from the transmission case outward things start to look familiar. CV axles still work the same, as do hub bearings. Control arms still use familiar hardware along with bushings that will need replacement eventually. Suspension components can get fancy with air springs for automatic ride height adjustment, but these systems have been around for decades. Similarly struts are no more complicated to replace than almost any other vehicle. Brake pads still work the same way and can actually be a snap to change thanks to the way Tesla chose the calipers. In fact the 2012-2014 Model S uses the same brake pads as a 2014-2017 Corvette! These are just a few examples. 

So while Tesla may have revolutionized certain parts of the automobile design and manufacturing process, there are still plenty of areas where it made much more sense to use proven systems and technologies that have been in use for decades. Once a DIYer or technician takes a moment to look around one of these vehicles, they may feel more at home than they expected. As a bonus, Tesla has made available a surprising amount of information via their website regarding service procedures and even light DIY repairs.

What’s At Your Local NAPA AUTO PARTS StoreEnviroshield Cabin Air Filter

Electric vehicles may not need engine oil or fuel filters, but there are still many products available at NAPA AUTO PARTS stores that fit Tesla models. For example NAPA Enviroshield Cabin Air Filter Part #FIL 230176 fits 2012 -2021 Model S. Many off-the-shelf windshield wipers blades also fit Tesla vehicles. Of course there are lots of accessories that can make life better such as all-weather floor mats and cargo liners. For sunny days a windshield sun shade can help keep things comfortable and reduce battery drain by not having to cool a broiling interior. 

Keeping a clean car is always in style, so don’t forget the large selections of car detailing products already on the shelves. Bugs don’t care what kind of windshield they hit, so glass cleaner and quick detailer help keep your car looking sharp. Speaking of looking sharp, don’t forget the large touch screens that should only be cleaned with a dry, lint-free cloth.

For the more DIY oriented owners, parts like HVAC blower motors and heaters hoses are readily available. As an aside, the 2012-2016 Model S uses the same blower motor as several Kia and Hyundai models. There are also 2012-2018 Tesla Model S sedans that use common and easily available 9005 headlight bulbs. While there are plenty of parts that are highly unique to Tesla vehicles, there are plenty of existing and new products for you.

Keep in mind that even seemingly simple operations (like changing the windshield wipers) may require putting a related vehicle system into “service mode” via the onboard touchscreen. For instance, when lifting a Model X with air suspension, it must be put in “Jack Mode” via the dashboard touchscreen, but this is not much different than countless other vehicles which also required disabling the auto-leveling system before lifting them off the ground.

So what is it like working on a Tesla in the real world? Let’s take a look at how to replace a Tesla thermal hose, coolant control valve, and water pump in this video:

In the case of the Tesla Model S cooling system something like a Tesla water pump replacement is pretty straight forward. Of course when working on an EV it is important to use the correct EV tools and follow the correct procedures for safety. When working on the high-voltage system proper safety precautions must be followed as described in the following video:

Help From Your Local NAPA AutoCare Center

Did you know there are already hundreds of hard parts available for Teslas within easy reach of your NAPA AutoCare experts? Beyond the previously mentioned cabin air filters and windshield wipers, there are a wide variety of undercar service parts. Front end components such as tie rods, control arms, ball joints, even sway bar end links are already at their fingertips. Brake pads may not need replacement as often due to wear thanks to regenerative braking, but they can still deteriorate depending on road conditions. That’s why brake inspections are still an important part of electric vehicle ownership. For example the Tesla Model 3 owner’s manual suggests cleaning and lubricating the brake calipers every year (or 12,500 miles whichever comes first) for those who drive in areas where roads are treated with salt. Brake fluid should also be tested every two years and replaced if contaminated.

Don’t forget tires and tire maintenance as part of your Tesla service routine. Tire rotation is still key to getting the most out of your tread life. Tesla itself recommends performing a tire rotation every 6,250 miles or whenever tire tread depth varies more than 2/32”. Most Tesla models use the same width wheels front and back, while some use a staggered fitment. While the tire sizes themselves are more performance oriented (wide track with a very short sidewall), they are not uncommon.

Looking To The Future

The march towards an electric vehicle future is picking up pace. Just recently GM unveiled an all-electric 2024 Silverado EV pickup, following in the footsteps of the already announced 2022 Ford Lightning all-electric truck. For the latter Ford has already accepted over 160,000 reservations for the Lightning, an impressive number but not shocking considering the welcome reception so far to the Mustang Mach-E. Chrysler has also jumped in with the Chrysler Airflow Concept and is planning to take the entire Chrysler product line completely electric by 2028. These are not niche automakers, they are major players that your customers already trust with their transportation needs. The future is now and NAPA AUTO PARTS is here to help you navigate this new electric path.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on Tesla service, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Brian Medford View All

With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.

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