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How Does A 2012 Tesla Model S Need An $8,500 Brake Job?


The cost of owning a Tesla may shoot up as the years go on.

One thing people don’t talk about much when it comes to Tesla is repair costs. Even the oldest Model S still isn’t very old, and since the car is electric many owners haven’t driven a ton of miles. But one Model S owner in Canada may be the proverbial canary in the coal mine when it comes to future maintenance costs. The owner took to the Tesla Motors Club forum to detail a brake job quoted at $8,5000. The EV was bought in December 2012 and has 64,000 miles on it. The car had been through two harsh winters and two warm ones.

It was dropped off at a Tesla service center after the brakes started feeling soft; a rattling sound was also coming from somewhere in back on the driver’s side. After waiting three weeks for an appointment at the service center the bad news was handed down: all four brake pistons had seized. The repair checked in at $8,500. Here’s the itemized repair bill: brake caliper assembly with piston (x3) $745, rear rotor (x2) $331, front rotor (x2) $290.00 and a parking brake caliper with pads $1,235. The upper control arm on the driver’s side was also replaced for $261. Luckily one of the pistons was saved and the owner wasn't charged labor, so the total cost was “just” $5,824.75

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Apparently the pistons can seize if the brakes aren’t used enough, this neglect being caused by the regenerative braking system. Also the salt on the roads—the car is located somewhere near Toronto—can degrade the brakes further. Yes, the Model S is technically a luxury car but this is a steep bill to foot for something that's partially not the driver's fault (or at least not something a layman would think to watch out for). And the fact that you can’t exactly shop around for a Tesla mechanic exacerbates the problem. Hopefully Elon Musk is thinking about how to keep his used cars running in addition to how to build new ones quickly.