Tesla Model 3 Life Expectancy: Is It As Good As Claimed? Here’s Proof

By Nicki Schill •  Updated: 10/18/21 •  8 min read

Swapping to an electric vehicle can have many advantages, but is overall mileage expectancy one of them?

Can the Model 3 even come close to Irving Gordon’s current world-record-holding 1966 Volvo 1800S with a whopping 3,000,000 miles on it?

While it might not get you that far, we can argue that the Model 3s of the future might get into the million-mile club. We’re not there yet though.

Today’s Tesla Model 3 life expectancy is anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 miles, at least that’s according to Elon Musk.

If you were to drive your Model 3 15,000 miles a year, that’s up to 20 years of service, saving you regular service trips and lowering your total cost of ownership.

While that’s the expected life of the battery, Elon believes that other vehicle components like the motor, chassis, and drivetrain can last up to 1,000,000 miles. And there are newer battery chemistries with higher expected life on the rise.

Not all parts are created equal though, so let’s get under the hood a little bit and see how each component fares over time.

How Long Does the Model 3’s Battery Last?

The first Model 3 battery modules should last 300k to 500k miles (or 1500 cycles), tweeted Elon back in 2019.

With their existing chemical combo of nickel-cobalt-manganese or NMC, Tesla batteries will have no problem hitting more than 300,000 miles.

That could change though as we heard about Tesla moving away from cobalt at its Battery Day 2020 due to some human rights violations in the way it’s mined.

As of this writing, Tesla’s Chinese-made models are being produced with lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries (and such chemistry was announced for the U.S.).

This battery chemistry outperformed NMC by nearly twice as much, with some LFP batteries rated for 3,000 cycles of usable life in EVs.

Maybe Tesla would make the move entirely to LFP for Model 3 production since testing had proven increased life expectancy (though winter performance is still subpar).

It’s been rumored that Tesla plans to roll out a 1,000,000-mile battery one day, and analysts were hoping Elon would have announced it at Battery Day 2020.

Sadly, no such announcement was made, but EV enthusiasts around the globe are still holding out hope. Many suspect LFP is it as it may already last more than a million miles.

Often seen as the limiting factor for reaching those extended years on the vehicle, battery technology is always evolving.

In the near future, battery life won’t hold back the other long-lasting Tesla components like the motor and the drivetrain, and the seemingly impossible million-mile milestone will be within reach.

Do Model 3’s Motor and Drivetrain Keep on Rolling?

You bet they do. 

Electric motors are a fantastic advancement in vehicle technology because they take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.

There’s no friction in an electric motor like you’d see in a combustion engine, and that’s precisely where the majority of wear and tear is seen on gas-powered vehicles.

Electric motors can withstand serious workloads, easily lasting for 30,000 hours of use.

For a vehicle that’s used 3 hours a day, that means the motor can run virtually maintenance-free for 30 years.

Tesla itself claimed to have tested its Model 3’s drivetrain for over a million miles in labs and all componentes still look like new.

In fact, unless the motor gets overheated, contaminated, or flooded, it’s likely to outlast the vehicle.

Model S and X owners have shared a few freak failure experiences, but they are rare and have some unique circumstances behind them.

Rest assured that the Model 3 motor is extremely reliable and no doubt a big part of the reason many Teslas are achieving six-figure mileage without major issues.

Six-figure Mileage Model 3s Are Popping Up

The Model 3 in its current form may not be quite ready for that million-mile mark, but that’s not to say it can’t hold its own in some high-mileage competitions.

There are currently Teslas out there pushing some serious six-figure mileage like a Model X with over 400,000 miles on it and even a Model S with over 600,000.

It can be harder to find similar later-generation models with the same kind of mileage on them, but a few Model 3s are making their mark.

One model stands out, surpassing 200,000 miles in about 4 years. This owner shares his battery degradation, service history, and total cost on the Voyage Without Carbon YouTube channel.

Maintenance history starts at 1:03. Worth watching fully in you drive a lot or intend to own your Model 3 for long.

His total cost of ownership calculation comes up to $85,000 USD (or 42 cents per mile). However, I think he missed a very important piece of the equation.

Namely, he didn’t subtract the current value of his car which is likely to be $30,000+ USD! His actual total cost of ownership is closer to $55,000 USD (or 28 cents per mile).

For context, the average gas car costs 58 cents per mile according to the IRS.

Over a 200,000-mile lifespan, the gas equivalent would have cost $116,000 USD. That’s anywhere between $30k to $60k saved, depending on the numbers you factor in.

YouTube personalities Andy Slye and Kyle Conner (Out of Spec Reviews) surpassed 100,000 miles in 2022 — and shared their experiences in great detail too.

The exterior walkthrough starts at 1:26. Jump ahead to 7:05 to check the interior condition overall (including the white seats).
Skip ahead to 11:38 to check Andy’s total cost of ownership calculations.

One thing these high-mileage owners all noted was how little they saw in terms of battery degradation or maintenance costs, proving that the return on investment is solid for Teslas.

Another 100,000-mile Model 3 owner remarked that if it hadn’t been for him “beating the car to death,” the only thing he would’ve needed service on were the tires. Still, the tires were averaging nearly 25,000 miles when properly rotated.

It goes to show that when you take care of the vehicle, it will repay tenfold in optimal performance and life expectancy.

Tips to Increase Your Tesla Model 3 Life Expectancy

There are lots of ways you can play a part in extending your Tesla Model 3 life expectancy for the better.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best tips to increase your battery life, reduce maintenance cost, and help keep your Model 3 in tip-top shape:

  1. Get into a good charging routine – Consistency is key here, and it’s recommended to plug in with your at-home charger every night to around 80%–90%. No need to top it up all the way, but make sure not to dip down under 10%–20% either as this can contribute to quicker degradations, especially in models with the NMC battery chemistry. Also, lay off other Superchargers as they can put extra strain on the battery. We covered how often to charge in another article, with some tips for setting a good routine.
  2. Maximize regenerative braking – Your Tesla will provide energy back free of charge through regenerative braking. Extend the range of your vehicle by choosing the “Standard” setting in your menu options to maximize the energy retrieved while braking.
  3. Avoid heavy acceleration – We know it’s fun to stomp on it in your Tesla and feel that instantaneous torque, but it’s also a real drain on battery current, not to mention the added unnecessary wear and tear on the tires. Consider activating the “Autopilot” mode if you find yourself with a heavy foot.
  4. Don’t expose the battery to extreme temperatures Although the Tesla has protective features to cool it down if it’s scorching hot out or to heat itself up in areas like Alaska or Canada, these actually put a strain on the battery. If possible, keep it out of direct sunlight in hot weather and neatly covered in cold weather.
  5. Check the tires regularly – Teslas are incredibly intuitive, and once you know how to navigate the Tesla app, checking on your tires for proper pressure is a breeze. For most Tesla vehicles, including the Model 3, the recommended tire pressure is 39–45 PSI. Your Tesla will also need regular tire rotation because the battery pack weighs down on the car, and there’s a whole lot of extra torque in a Tesla impacting those tires.

If you pay attention to your charging habits and keep on top of the overall health of your vehicle, you’ll be sure to help extend your Tesla Model 3 life expectancy.

Maybe even with some extra attention, you’ll even crack the high-mileage club soon.

Nicki Schill

Nicki Schill is a writer and content marketer out of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. As the former Geotab Marketing Manager, she’s got loads of experience in electric vehicles and fleet electrification. She’s a tech blogger and marketing guru who enjoys all things Canadian like hockey and poutine.