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Driving a Tesla Model 3: A Six-Year Ownership Experience

What is one thing that you, I, and pretty much everybody else have in common? We all want to make the best decisions with our money, especially when it comes to expensive things. Well, exactly six years ago, I did something crazy and spent more money than I ever thought I would on a car. But not just any car – this is the car that flipped the auto industry upside down and brought electric vehicles to the masses. I’m talking about the Tesla Model 3, of course.

I recently passed 144,000 miles in my Model 3, and you might be thinking, “Andy, that’s a random number. Why are you telling me that?” Well, that number is important because the average US driver drives about 14,000 miles per year. So that means I’ve driven the equivalent of 10 years of average driving already in the Model 3. And if you listen to any financial expert, they always say that 10 years is the minimum you should own a car if you’re buying it brand new.

I’m going to share with you every single dollar that I’ve spent on my Model 3, including all the repairs and maintenance. I’ll also go over the savings that I’ve had by not buying gas or oil. First, let’s quickly go over the upfront cost of my Model 3.

When I got this in 2018, it was $56,000 for this configuration with the red paint, long range, enhanced autopilot, and I added full self-driving for $2,000 when they offered it in 2019. So including my taxes and registration, and then also minus the $7,500 tax credit that I got, I ended up paying $54,000 after all that.

Now, let’s talk about optional expenses. First of all, the paint protection film, which cost $1,800 to wrap the entire front of my Model 3. I also spent roughly $200 on getting all four windows tinted, which not only provides some privacy but also helps with energy savings in hot summer days. Additionally, I spent roughly $200 on various accessories for my car. However, I did spend $500 on a Uniden radar detector, which has been worth it as I haven’t been pulled over since getting it.

In total, about $3,200 was spent on optional expenses. Now let’s talk about the free service that has been performed by Tesla for things that went bad when it was under warranty. This includes issues with the door handle, LTE signal, GPS discrepancy error, and a scraping noise under the car, among others. Tesla covered these repairs under warranty or goodwill service, saving me significant costs.

After my warranty expired, I incurred some out-of-pocket costs for repairs and maintenance, including a 2-year checkup, DIY air filter replacement, and various repairs done by a mobile technician. The most expensive repair was around $11,000 for front control arms and lateral links replacement.

As for charging costs, I mainly charged at home, which cost about $4,255 over six years. Comparing this to a comparable gas car like the BMW 3 Series, I estimate savings of over $20,000 in fuel and oil changes alone.

In total, my ownership cost for six years and 144,000 miles is just over $75,000, which considering the savings in fuel and maintenance, makes owning a Tesla Model 3 a great deal.

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