Tesla Owners - Let's Talk

Howdy, I’m in the market for a new car and a Tesla Model Y is one of the options near the top of the list. I know there’s no shortage of places on the interwebs to solicit lots of passionate opinions on Tesla, but I figure this is a good a place as any to try and get some more circumspect thoughts.

So…any Dopers have some experience or informed opinions on life with a Tesla and the relative bang for the buck when buying a pricey all-electric? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Right now here’s my back of the envelope pros and cons list thus far.


  • Sustainability (duh)
  • Little regular maintenance needed
  • Modern look
  • Good standard feature set
  • Enjoyable to drive


  • No Apple Car Play
  • Sub-par interior comfort for the price
  • Few physical controls
  • AWD option adds a lot of cost
  • Cost to install the charger

While not really a pro or con, adjusting a life with a electric car and the inevitable range anxiety is a pretty big change. I don’t think it’ll be a big issue for me. The other thing weighing on my mind is that the other cars in the segment that I can get for the price are really fucking nice.

I don’t own a Tesla, but I would reconsider your “little maintenance needed” point. Consumer Reports gives the Tesla Y a score of 1 out of 5 for reliability and doesn’t recommend the car for that reason. There’s an extensive review here, but I don’t know if you can see it without a CR subscription.

I don’t think most Tesla’s will give you much bang for the buck. Many people like the Model 3, however, which is more reasonably priced. But you do get a lot of bang for a lot of bucks.

We have a Model X, not a Model Y. It’s a bigger car that it appears. Lots of room. Lots of range. Lots of fun to drive. (not as fun as my iPace, but that’s a different thread).

For us, range anxiety is not a thing at all. The only time we’ve used a supercharger is a trip we took just to see what it would be like to take a long trip in an EV (no problems to speak of). I estimated one or two times per year we’d want to exceed our range. Initially, we had one EV and one ICE, so we could have a gas option for a road trip. After a while, it became clear we didn’t need a gas car and went with two electrics. As has been debated at length here, some people have driving habits (or live in places) where an EV would be a hassle. If you’re not one of those, I’d recommend one. Everyone I know who bought an EV swears they’ll never go back.

Range anxiety, it’s a bit different than what you might think. Almost each and every day you have a ‘full tank’ from the previous nights charge, so unless you are going to push that range to near (or over) it’s limit, there is no range anxiety at all.

If you do push that limit, depend on public charging infrastructure then yes there will be range anxiety.

So it depends on want category you will fall in. Tesla’s get great range and for some people they will never leave category #1.

I came in to say the same thing about Consumer Reports. I was looking at their latest reliability rankings and was shocked how low Tesla was ranked. Second to last and numerically dismal. That’s only one source, of course, but worth looking into.

I own a Tesla Model 3 for a couple of years now, and it has been very low maintenance. The only service I brought it in for was a sensor came loose going over a bump that caused weird driving issues. And I had to learn how to add windshield wiper fluid, since I always had it filled with an oil change for my previous cars. (Well, and I had to get a tire fixed when I ran over a screw.)

But my friend with a Model Y has other stories. The special doors have needed a lot of service to keep them working properly. Including having to hold one of them shut by hand while driving. My understanding is they are better than they used to be, but I think they can still be an issue.

I’m aware of the initial quality reports, though I can’t read the CR report, but that’s not what I was referring to. Yes, there’s a number of complaints around fit and finish as well was durability of certain materials. But that’s not “maintenance” in the traditional sense. The EV advantage is the lack of moving parts, there’s no need for oil changes (which if you go the dealer route can be $60-70 every 3-6 months), no transmission to wear out or leak, no coolant to top up, etc. Even the regenerative brake system is a fair bit more durable than the rotors and pads of a traditional car. The whole scheduled maintenance program goes out the window.

Yeah, as a city dweller I expect to have little trouble with range. The scenario that my wife and I have come up with as a possible headache is the holidays. I can imagine us making 2 different trips to visit different sides of the family in the burbs in the same day. In the worst case this has us potentially driving 100 miles round trip to one burb in the morning and then 90 miles round trip to another in the afternoon/evening. Toss in the range reduction of cold winter temps and the possibility of not starting with a full battery and we may be stressed out. I acknowledge that this is a bit of a stretch.

Also, few of us need to truly plan a road trip in an ICE…you just get gas where ever you are when you need it, in a electric you need to plot a course. Not a super painful adjustment, but I think it’s a valid consideration.

Are you sure that isn’t a Model X? The doors in the Y are entirely traditional as far as I can tell.

Yes, sorry, I meant X. I don’t know any Y owners yet.

If you have range anxiety, have you considered buying a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle instead of a pure electric vehicle? You still have a conventional engine but can run purely electric most of the time.

But how realistic is your scenario of needing to make a 100 mile round trip in the morning and a second 90 mile round trip in the evening? Is this a regular thing for you?

I don’t have range anxiety, maybe I wasn’t clear. Just pointing out that range is a consideration.

And as I said in the quoted post, this is a stretch. But it’s not completely implausible when you have parents and in-laws living in the burbs on opposite sides of the city. People doing 2 Thanksgivings or Christmases isn’t unheard of.

I’m not really considering a Hybrid. It’s basically the worst of both worlds. You are lugging around 2 redundant systems and have all the maintenance that goes into an ICE and the weight and gremlins that come with an EV. The all-electric range of even the best EVs is in the 10-20 mile range which makes them bordering on pointless. You’re essentially paying a lot extra in order to get a modest bump in fuel economy. The Prius was an interesting idea 20 years ago, but there’s a reason few companies are continuing to invest here other than Toyota.

We have owned both a Volt and a Prius Prime. Both got more than 20 miles on the all electric portion of the ride. The Volt got 30 to 35 miles. I typically never used gas for my daily commute and shopping runs. I would buy about 9 gallons of gas three times per year. However, when the Volt gas engine did kick in, it was a rough ride. The Prime, however, was seamless. It got about 24 miles on the charge, but almost 50 mpg after that. A nice car.

ETA: I actually prefer pure EVs to the plug in hybrids. Just sharing my experience with the plug-ins.

I see I typoed the previous comment, should have said the all-electric range of plug-in hybrids is 10-20 miles. Another qualifier was warranted here, I’m exclusively looking at a mid-sized SUV. And in that segment the all-electric ranges are lower. The Volt/Prius isn’t going to suit my needs.

The Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid has an electric range in the low thirties, the Rav4 Prime in the low forties, IIRC. The Q5 is seriously fast, also. Not sure if it equals the Telsa, but sub 5 second 0-60.

EPA rates it at 19 miles.

2021 Audi Q5 55 Plug-In Hybrid Might Be the Best Q5 (caranddriver.com)

Hadn’t seen the Rav4 PRIME but I don’t think anyone will ever convince me to spend $40k on a Rav4.

What about renting an old-school car for those couple times a year where range might be an issue ?

I think I gave the wrong impression here…I’m not worried about it. It was a hypothetical.

Or the car does it for you. If you put a long trip into the Tesla’s navigation, it will tell you which superchargers to stop at.

As for your pros and cons, do not put “Enjoyable to drive” at the bottom of the list. Tesla’s are muscle cars. They’re reasonably well composed around corners, but heavy, even if it’s all low down. They are brutally fast in a straight line. This is fun. I barely ride my motorcycle since getting a Model 3, because the car is just so fun to drive. Also, getting deep into the go pedal doesn’t hurt your wallet (ooh, another $0.15 to charge tonight, because I’m a lead foot!).

I was disappointed about the lack of Car Play/Android Auto, but it hasn’t bothered me. With the premium connectivity ($100/year, I think, I’m grandfathered in for life time) you get live traffic, and lots of streaming. It comes with Slacker, but also supports Spotify, plus just bluetooth streaming from your phone (no premium needed). The Tesla navigation is essential Google Maps. Lack of Car Play is definitely a con, but I don’t think a big one.

The interior is fine, but it could be better for the price. People whine about a heated steering wheel. I hate it on my in-laws car. Uggh, now I’m driving around with sweaty hands because I don’t know how to turn it off. For me, the big feature I miss is ventilated seats. I want a car that blows cool air up my ass.

The lack of physical controls is really over hyped. “It doesn’t have a volume knob!” Yes it does, it’s right at your left thumb on the steering wheel. You can also tap the volume roller side to side to forward and reverse tracks. Physical controls for the climate stuff would be nice, but once you get used to it, not a big deal. Just a tap to adjust the temperature, and let the auto system take care of it. Or tap once to open the menu and adjust it manually. The fog lights are too many taps to get to (two taps).

The AWD costs money, but adds even more fun. A whole new motor to zoom.

The cost to install the charger is going to vary by the situation. Expect $500-1500, but you could get lucky and it’s much cheaper. Where is your breaker box in relation to where you’ll park the car? Is there space in it to add a 220 volt breaker? Is there capacity to add a 30 or 50 amp outlet? Depending on your use, you may be able to get away with 110 charging.

Finally reliability. It’s not good, but my previous car was a 2002 Volkswagen, and I don’t think it’s a whole lot worse than that. At least I’ve never had to bring the car back to Tesla to fix the same problem over and over again. I’ve had lots of things done under warranty, including a whole new traction battery. On site service is also good. No need to take it to the service center for lots of repairs. New Model 3s seem to be better put together than mine, one of the first few thousand dual motor models. The early Model Ys were embarrassing. I really hope they’ve got those issues sorted out.

Low maintenance is no joke. In 25,000 miles the only thing even sort of maintenance I’ve spent money on is winter tires, and swapping the summer and winter tires.

Also, pre-heating and pre-cooling the interior is fantastic.

200 miles in a winter day shouldn’t be a big deal. If you forget to charge, go to your in-laws first, and charge there.

It wasn’t a stack rank, but yes, it’s a hoot. I’m comparing it to other high-end luxury sport SUVs which each are pretty spirited themselves, but nothing can beat that EV launch with infinite torque.

Can you expand a little on the issues you mentioned? Specifically the battery replacement, what were the symptoms you encountered? Were you without the car for an extended period of time? This will be my family’s only vehicle, so any extended service would be a pretty big hitch in our giddy up.