from the diagnosis on the application to the intervention, we tested the repair of a Model 3

What happens if a Tesla breaks down? And in general, how do you maintain a Model 3 or a Model S? We tested the Californian manufacturer’s after-sales service.

Innovating on the electric car, both in their design and in its economic model, Tesla is not like other car manufacturers when it comes to repairing the Model 3, Model X and other Model S.
Indeed, a Tesla cannot be repaired at the local garage. The intervention on an electric vehicle of the Californian brand is reserved for the experts of its mobile service, or for the employees of its service centers. Because who says electric car also says specific maintenance.
Concretely, it is not because you have done your oil change on your magnificent Clio III, since 2014, that you will be comfortable opening a Model 3 bonnet. And for good reason… there is almost nothing accessible there.

For its various interventions, Tesla relies on its network. In France, it is made up of around twenty mobile vehicles and a dozen service centres. But how does a repair work on a Model 3, for example?
To find out, we tested Tesla’s after-sales service, whether it was for the installation of a new part or for a repair.

The application at the center of the service

At Tesla, as for many other manipulations, a repair or in general any intervention on the car begins… on the mobile application.
In the “services” part of the application, an option allows you to launch a remote diagnosis of your car. As you probably know, all Teslas are permanently connected to the Internet. Therefore, it is possible to have an overview of the status of the various components and the performance of each part of the vehicle in real time. This is done in a service center, by a brand technician.

Thomas Remilleret – – The remote diagnostic service of the Tesla service center in Chambourcy.

Remote diagnosis: two answers

The request is processed in a few hours and can lead to two specific scenarios that differ according to the complexity of the intervention.

Scenario 1 : This is a minor repair that can be done on site. In this first case, after making an appointment, one of the brand’s “Mobile Service” technicians comes to the vehicle. It is immobilized for the duration of the intervention, which can be scheduled at a location chosen by the owner.
The type of repairs that correspond to this first scenario are fairly standard and vary from the replacement of wiper blades to the (rare) change of brake pads. But it could also be an obstructed sensor or camera that could make Autopilot’s job harder.

Thomas Remilleret – – The presence of the owner is not essential during the intervention.

Nevertheless, these interventions constitute the vast majority of maintenance operations carried out on the Tesla car fleet in France.
In fact, these technicians driving on board Model S specially equipped for repairs carry out 80% of the operations of maintenance interventions.

Note that the procedure is the same when a user wishes to replace a defective element of his vehicle (such as a damaged mirror, for example) or if he wishes to add certain options.
In order to test this part of the service, we decided to install a “HomeLink” kit on our test Model 3. This option, which allows, among other things, to automatically open the garage door when the vehicle approaches, is a hardware improvement and cannot be done online like most of the manufacturer’s updates.

Thomas Remilleret – – Intervention of a Tesla mobile technician.

Before the installation, the application invited us to choose a place of intervention (home, work or other appropriate place of your choice) by offering us several appointment dates.
Main advantage of this approach, it is not necessary to be on site at the time of the intervention. Indeed, all you have to do is open your car remotely, using the application, when the technician arrives, who will then take control of it.
The installation of our HomeLink will have lasted 30 minutes in all and for all. The option was activated as soon as our Model 3 was recovered.

Thomas Remilleret – – The installation of the HomeLink kit requires the removal of the cover of the Model 3.

Scenario 2 : The remote diagnostics service detects a more serious problem. If the car is still drivable, the owner is advised to visit the nearest Tesla Service Center.
On site, he will be taken care of by a technician who will perform a complete tour of the vehicle before switching it to “Service Mode”. This is a configuration in which certain Tesla features are disabled to facilitate repairs.
The obvious advantage of this process is to be able to anticipate intervention times and parts orders. Indeed, as soon as the diagnosis is made, the service center knows the time it will have to devote to the repair as well as the parts necessary for the operation.
For the customer, this translates into an estimated average waiting time of 1h30. If it were to be exceeded, Tesla offers its customers an Uber voucher (if the wait is more than three hours) or lends them a replacement vehicle (for any intervention lasting more than four hours).

Thomas Remilleret – – The Service mode of Tesla deactivates certain options to facilitate their repair.

A different model

On repairs as on almost everything else, Tesla does not do like most of its competitors. Again, the Californian’s approach borrows a lot from what is done with smartphone manufacturers, especially in terms of the service center experience.
On the other hand, where Tesla really innovates, it is on the current interventions, managed by its mobile service, which allow the owner to carry out the majority of (small) repairs without moving in a garage and without even being on the spot.

What is the balance sheet for the repair service?

However, Tesla’s maintenance service is not perfect. After having tested it broadly, it seems to us that it could improve on at least two points.
The first concerns price readability. Tesla does not have a price grid for the different types of interventions, and even less the price of the different parts. The owner of the vehicle must simply sign, or not, the quote issued by his application. It goes without saying that he also has no alternative other than the manufacturer’s network when it comes to going through the repair box.

Thomas Remilleret – – Going to a service center is only necessary in 20% of operations on average.

Finally, although maintenance is fairly basic and relatively unrestrictive on electric vehicles, it nevertheless remains the responsibility of the user.
However, given their connectivity, it seems to us that the Model 3 and other Model S should be able to warn their owner before the degradation of one of their parts.
Indeed, it is the second axis of progression of Tesla in the matter. Given their capabilities, the Californian manufacturer’s cars should be more proactive in the maintenance process. That the fans of the brand are reassured, Tesla is actively working on it.

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