Body Repairs A Consideration Before a Tesla Purchase

The article title is incorrect; it ain’t the maintenance but the repair costs that are high and take time.

A new report from auto insurance analytics company Mitchell shows that repairable EV insurance claims have increased by 40% since this time last year, following the trend of growth in the number of electric cars on the road—but average repair costs were 29% higher for EV owners than their ICE-owning counterparts, and the average repair took almost twice as long.

additional time adds significant cost to EV repairs,” Mitchell reported. “The extra EV labor hours are likely due to the management of the high-voltage battery, which requires de-energization and often complete removal to protect it during collision repair and refinishing processes.”

Because many new EVs are packed with more expensive sensors than the average ICE vehicle and require specialized skills to maintain, they’re more costly to fix—and that means many insurers are increasingly opting to simply write off many EVs as totaled because it’s cheaper to just replace the car, even if they were only involved in a minor accident.

I believe the above bolded paragraph would result in higher premiums to insure an EV due to higher average loss compared to IC vehicles.

Also it takes longer to repair a EV. Sometimes up to 6 months.
A couple links to stories about difficulty of repairing Teslas.

https://insideevs.com/news/657401/tesla-sued-high-priced-parts-service-monopoly/
Tesla Owner Sues For High-Priced Parts And Service, Lack Of Options

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Something here doesn’t quite make sense. There have been literally MILLIONS of Toyotas and other makes with hybrid drive trains for 20+ years and every one of those cars poses the same high voltage / high current safety risks as a pure EV.

The market definitely has limitations on personnel comfortable with working on any hybrid or EV vehicle. My preferred mechanic has repaired foreign cars since 1974 but even in 2024 does not want to do anything more than oil changes on my 2007 Highlander hybrid. Anything like 60,000 mile coolant flushes or 100,000 tuneups required a trip to a dealer. I haven’t had any collision / body work done on it but I don’t believe my insurance rates are higher than non-hybrid varieties that might reflect higher repair costs or lower “total it” thresholds because of higher repair costs.

I think the problem here again is lack of planning and understanding on Tesla’s part regarding what it takes to manufacture, sell and SUPPORT cars over YEARS of time. It’s not just the supply chain for CURRENT PRODUCTION that has to be managed and protected. The stuff you sold six years ago still needs support. It isn’t clear Tesla is organized to provide that support to dealers and they are too selfish to allow independent shops to perform work on the vehicles, creating an instant supply and demand problem.

WTH

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Since you pointed out Tesla in the subject title, I’ll mention that Teslas have 9 cameras. No radar. No Lidar, No ultrasonics. Plus, they have the usual crash sensors that all cars have. Cameras are cheap. Radar and Lidar are not cheap.

Gigacastings are repairable in many cases. No engine/transmission repairs in a severe accident with BEVs of course.

It may be that parts are expensive for Teslas. I wouldn’t know… never needed to know. But I’ll point out that Tesla has identified authorized repair shops, so you’re not dependent on a Tesla store for service… even though most service involves a Tesla tech driving to the customer’s home in lieu of having to bring it in for repairs.

And, of course, almost all “recalls” are actually just software updates done over the air.

Rob
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

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A friend’s Model 3 (a few years old) has a failed A/C system. Current wait time is 58 more days for a repair. In Texas.

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I have a better one than that: chatting with a guy at a car show yesterday, he mentioned an issue with his Buick Tour-X. The Tour-X and Regal from 2018-2020 were built in Germany, by Opel, which pasted a Buick label on them and shipped them to the US.

The issue he discovered: the power sunshade on the moonroof on those cars apparently has a service life of 5-6 years. When GM sold Opel to PSA, GM entered a final order for service parts. The sunshade on his roof has gone west. The Buick dealer tells him GM’s inventory of replacements has been exhausted. GM has no intention of ordering any more. So it isn’t just Teslas that have issues with service parts availability.

Steve

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BMWs have had similar problems. Even before COVID supply chain issues. I know someone that had to wait 3 weeks for a part (a relatively simple engine seal part) to arrive from Germany before they could even start working on his repair. Meanwhile, they had already disassembled part of the engine to diagnose the problem, so he couldn’t even take the car back (with the slight oil leak) and use it in the interim!

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The repair problem isn’t easy to solve. As of yet there is no parts after market to keep costs down and Tesla needs to protect itself by disallowing third party parts and labor. Vertical integration adds to the difficulty. Maybe the short term solution is making loaners available as part of the insurance package.

The Captain

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Seems dealers don’t inventory anything beyond routine maintenance parts. While in warranty, my hecho en Mexico VW had a small rattle in the rear. Turned out to be a missing clip in the left rear brake. They had to order the part. When the windshield wiper switch on my then 10 year old Civic broke, the dealer had to order the part. The clip and the switch did not take long to arrive, I forget exactly how long, but I did need to make a second trip to the shop to have the replacement installed.

In 2016, I was considering a 2008 Saturn Astra as a winter beater. The Astra was another EU built Opel that GM had imported. GM did not sell Opel to PSA until 2017. But, even in 16, GM’s parts support for the Astra was getting thin: front struts and the horn had already transmuted to unobtainium via GM.

Steve

At this point, it would be literally impossible for dealers to keep every part in stock for every model they service. It would take a large space with many shelves (and other specialized storage spaces) to store it all, and it would take at least 2 people to manage full-time (every day there would be new parts coming in and having to place on the correct shelf so they can be found quickly during service). So dealers have decided to stock only the most common parts, which alone are quite a few. They rely on nearby distribution centers for other parts, but even the distribution centers can’t stock everything all the time anymore. Some parts are just too expensive to simply keep on a shelf in case some dealer within 250 miles needs it once every 2 years. And those parts need to be ordered from the manufacturer, even if it is located thousands of miles away.

To work with electric powered cars mechanics need different train and possibly different licensing. Different equipment.

Most small mechanics are totally uninterested.

That leaves dealerships at higher costs doing the work.

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That may be the issue. Their basic premise (re spare parts, etc) may be “the car is obsolete after 3-4 years”, so no support for obsolete vehicles.

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You’re making me want the days of old, of my '76 Buick Century. Tons of interchangeable parts across Chevy/Pontiac/Olds/Buick for a span of several years. That is a drawback to having soooo many different parts for each individual model of car, let along brand. Now even radios are different!!! Bring back the simple, elegant, interchangeable DIN and double-DIN chassis!

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You don’t even need to go that far back. My late 90’s Suburban is ridiculously easy to get parts for, especially for a 25 year old car. It doesn’t hurt that a lot of the car is the same as the Chevy/GMC pickup trucks of the era.

Add in that it has basically stopped depreciating and is still very reliable, and it is a great second car. Could be a good first car, too, if you don’t drive a lot.

—Peter

Generic GM and Ford models have great parts availability. I suppose that’s what happens when you sell tens of millions of cars over the years with mostly common parts.

Generic Toyota and Honda (and Nissan) models come close, but there are some esoteric parts that can’t always be easily found.

And Hyundai/Genesis mostly has common parts available, but there are some that are not, and they have to be ordered from the place of manufacture (sometimes Korea!) This can be very painful in my experience (I once had to wait 23 days for my car to be returned to me).

Mercedes/BMW have some common parts that they keep in stock, but weirdly some parts have to be ordered from Germany. Even parts that they know will be needed (like engine gaskets). Not sure if they don’t stock them due to “expiration dates” (like engine gaskets drying out or similar, but I have no idea, just speculating).

Volvo seems to have everything, but charges huge sums of money for anything they do to their vehicles.

In my simplistic belief, Tesla has only made parts for new cars to make sales numbers. When I bought mine 5 years ago, a couple of ICE dealers were saying, don’t get in an accident it’ll take months for the body parts. Stories of long waits on the Reddit forums have been posted for years. As a remote worker since '20 and now commuting 15 minutes a day it’s not been an issue (knock wood), but Tesla is clearly not prioritizing capacity for service & secondary parts yet. Will Musk invest in becoming a real car company instead of a tech startup? Or will he sell the op and move on to robots and spaceships to go with his cute little meXaging app? Stay tuned for next week’s episode of Entrepreneurial Random Thoughts!

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A 2022 AAA study estimates that the average car owner pays 9.68 cents per mile for maintenance and repairs over a five-year period — about $1,300 annually.Jan 24, 2023

A new study from the nonprofit outlet Consumer Reports found that Elon Musk’s electric vehicles cost less to maintain over a 10-year period than cars from any other brand. Tesla owners typically spent just $4,035 over a decade, Consumer Reports found. That’s an average of $403.50 per year.Apr 24, 2024

My comment there is less to repair.

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Junkyards do as well, specially for older cars. :clown_face:

The Captain

Yep. Unfortunately junkyards have gone out of style. I remember in the 70s and 80s in NYC when crime was rampant. A friend who still lived in Brooklyn had a Honda Civic. The crooks would repeatedly break the little triangular vent window so they could reach in and open the door to steal anything of value in the car (most NYers knew not to keep anything of real value there, so most of the time it was just a few cassettes and maybe some change used for tolls). The first time he ordered the replacement part at the local Honda dealer for $117.83. The second, third, and fourth times, I went with him to a local junkyard and he bought the replacement window assembly for $10-20. Higher price if the junkyard had already disassembled it, lower price if we were willing to walk the rows of junked cars and disassemble it ourself. Plus there was always a little negotiating of price. It was kind of fun wandering through the junkyard and seeing row after row after row of junked cars.

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