If you’re planning to buy a Tesla or a new owner, you’re probably wondering what it takes to maintain them. When it comes to Tesla maintenance, one of the most common questions that most of our readers have is: do Teslas need oil?
No, Tesla doesn’t need oil, at least not in a traditional sense like its gas-powered counterparts.
With that said, there’s more to Tesla maintenance than not needing oil. For today’s post, we’ll talk about why Tesla doesn’t need oil, which parts need oil, and some quick maintenance steps for Tesla owners (or EVs in general).
The Main Reason Why Tesla Doesn’t Need Oil
First, to understand why Tesla doesn’t need oil like its fuel-powered counterparts, you should know why a standard gas vehicle needs oil and why it needs a regular oil change.
Fuel-powered vehicles require oil because the fluid helps lubricate, cool, and clean the engine’s moving parts. In a standard combustion engine, you’ll find pistons, bearings, timing gears, and cylinder walls that need lubrication. The lubricating properties of the oil help reduce friction and provide a cooling effect to the parts.
Over time, the fumes coming from the combustion will break down the oil in the engine and therefore must be changed or replaced. Regular oil change intervals are required to ensure the vehicle runs smoothly and prevent long-term irreparable damage.
This isn’t the case with electric vehicles like Tesla.
Under the hood (or rather the rear axle areas), Teslas are powered by electric motors. Due to the lack of numerous moving parts and extreme movement within the motor, a small amount of grease is enough to ensure the smooth operation of the motor. Unlike standard engines, there’s no need to change or replace the grease since it doesn’t break down (more on this later).
Do Teslas need oil? Not conventionally, but some parts of the EV use oil.
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Which Tesla Parts Need Oil?
One common brag of EV owners is that they require less maintenance, including oil changes. Although the electric motor doesn’t need oil, there are still other moving and spinning components elsewhere in the car that require lubrication.
A Model Y teardown by Munro & Associates showed that the all-electric Tesla vehicles do have an oil filter – but not in its usual spot with traditional motors. As it turns out, Teslas have a gearbox oil filter. Munro explains that it’s not precisely a transmission system but more like a gearbox that uses oil.
Therefore, this little oil filter ensures that the grease circulating doesn’t choke any moving parts inside the gearbox and motor. CNET even used a dipstick to check the oil levels in a Tesla Model 3.
Basically, Tesla’s gearbox (aka differential) contains oil to ensure trouble-free transmissions. The oil used in a Tesla’s drive unit is a synthetic type called Pentosin ATF 9, and the oil filter part number is 1095038-00-A. Unlike your standard engine oil, this synthetic oil doesn’t degrade or become contaminated by fumes – the main reason Teslas don’t need oil changes.
Previously, Tesla recommended that the gearbox oil be replaced during the 1st, 5th, and 9th years of ownership. However, the guideline has since been removed from Tesla’s Support page as they probably realized they’re throwing perfectly good oil away.
Do Teslas Need Maintenance?
Now that we’ve answered the question, “do Teslas need oil?” let’s throw in some maintenance tips. While Teslas require a lot less maintenance and servicing than a standard fuel vehicle, they still need basic maintenance for optimal performance, reliability, and safety.
Below are a few Tesla maintenance tips that you should know:
Tire Rotation and Wheel Alignment
The company recommends rotating or changing the tires every 6,250 miles or if the tread depth difference is measured at 2⁄32 – whichever occurs first. Like regular vehicles, Teslas use the same rubber tires, which degrade over time. If you’re an aggressive driver or driving in extreme weather, you may need more frequent tire checkups. Wheel alignment is also a concern since it can affect its handling, tire lifespan, and steering parts. Refer to your owner’s manual for more detailed information on maintaining your tires.
Teslas use regenerative braking that returns energy to the battery, minimizing wear and tear for the brake pads. Nevertheless, it’s never a bad idea to monitor your brake pads, and you can bring them up during one of your service center visits.
Cabin Air Filter
The carbon air filter blocks dust, pollen, and other contaminants from entering the cabin. Tesla recommends that you change these filters every two years. They tend to get clogged up and become less effective in blocking the contaminants from infiltrating the cabin. You should also replace your car’s HEPA filter every three years for good measure.
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While there’s no need to change the oil in a Tesla, that doesn’t apply to its brake fluid. Over time, the brake fluid can become contaminated, making it less effective. Obviously, this is a significant safety concern, so get the fluid inspected for contamination every two years.
If you live in colder parts of the country, you’ll want to clean and lubricate your vehicle’s brake calipers. Tesla’s recommendation is to clean and lubricate all brake calipers every 12,500 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first.
Do Teslas Require Yearly Maintenance?
Teslas don’t need annual maintenance and servicing. Furthermore, Tesla technicians can simply push over-the-air software updates and perform remote diagnostics, so the need to visit a Tesla technician is severely decreased.
If you need service, you can download the Tesla app to schedule maintenance appointments and even request roadside assistance.
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The answer to this question isn’t as simple as you’d expect. Let’s look explore the difference between gas and diesel engines and explore just how many spark plugs a diesel engine actually has.
Maintaining Your Tesla Vehicle
Hopefully, this quick guide has answered the ever-prevalent question: do Teslas need oil? To sum it up, Teslas don’t need oil or oil changes. However, the all-electric car’s gearbox or drive system does need synthetic oil to facilitate smooth transmissions. However, unlike the standard motor oil, Tesla’s synthetic oil doesn’t need to be replaced since they don’t break down over time.
For specific maintenance requirements and tips, we highly recommend checking out the owner’s manual for more in-depth information.
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