Will Model 3 require an Oil Change?

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May 3, 2016
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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
#1
Looking at the Semi Reveal videos, we see that the 4 motors are mounted off set from the wheel they drive. Understanding that the motors used in the Semi are similar to the ones used in the Model 3, are we to conclude that the Model 3 motors are also off set from the wheel assembly they drive?

If that is the case, it means that the motor needs a "gearbox" to transfer motion from the motor to the wheels. Can someone confirm the situation?

On the "Tesla Repair Channel", there is a reference to a Drive Unit Fluid Service (). If this is confirmed, that would be a departure from the statement where Teslas do not need oil change.

Will my tesla require an Oil Change?
Thanks.
 

garsh

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#2
Yes, there are reduction gears and a differential between the motor and the axles. No, it does not mean that your Tesla will need an oil change.

In particular, it has been noted that the Model 3 includes a filter and pump (unlike the Model S). It is believed that the filter will allow the Model 3 (and the Semi as well) to achieve a million miles without servicing. But, I guess that means that you *could* change the fluid if you desire, but it is not recommended maintenance.
 
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4701

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#3
All EV's still use some fluids. These fluids degrade over time due to friction, wear, temperature cycles, air humidity etc.
Same happens with solids like brake pads, tires, struts, bearings, bushings, wiper blades etc.
All cars require maintenance, that includes EVs. That includes Teslas. That includes Model 3.
When mechanical part fails, those require replacement. In case of fluid degradation, those require replacement.
This includes:
Brake,
Coolant,
Drivetrain,
and compressor
OIL or LIQUID
Most can be counted as "lifetime" fluids. But vehicle's actual lifetime is longer than manufacturer defined lifetime.
For example, BMW has "Lifetime" gearbox oil and does not recommend any oil changes. But it has been proven that
oil gets excessively contaminated after 60 000 miles, which speeds up gearbox total failure. It has been proven,
that changing oil against manufacturer's recommendation will prolong lifetime of the whole transmission.

Compressor oil doesn't degrade enough and/or it has not been proven, that changing oil/refrigerant/dryer will prolong
system lifetime in any meaningful way. PS: Tesla Model S/X has dryer replacement in the schedule, that is unreasonable.
Coolant does degrade over time. Fluid is excellent for few years, then it is "fine" for another few and it is not good around
the time when warranty runs out, somewhere around 60 000 miles. It doesn't break anything but it doesn't have enough
protective chemicals that prolong the life of components coolant touches.
Brake fluid degrades mostly due to air humidity. It's excellent for 2 years, then it's usually fine for another 2 (applies to modern
cars incl Tesla) and after 4 years it is not good. It doesn't break anything but it is contaminated, which also contaminates
components in the system. And it will not handle very high braking actions for long (racing or going down the hill with
limited regen for example).
Drivetrain oil degrades due to wear in the reduction gear, air humidity and also some thermal cycles (applies to EVs as well)
Initial degradation is very fast. During first year there is a lot of contamination. This is due to parts break-in-period.
Model 3 has drivetrain oil filter, which likely takes care of that initial contamination problem (abrasive stuff is filtered out).
But the oil itself will still degrade over time. Even if no oil replacement is done, drivetrain will likely be fine for very long
period of at least 5-8 years. But it's true, that changing the oil after years of use will prolong lifetime of components in the system.

To sum up. Brake fluid degrades the fastest. Then coolant fluid and drivetrain oil. Compressors often handle a decade without
any service and changing the fluid in between has not been proven to prolong the life.

If manufacturer doesn't state anything, I'd recommend to change all three no later than right before warranty runs out,
therefore around 60 000 miles / 100 000 km.

Looking at official Model 3 manual, brake fluid replacement 2 years, coolant 4 years (or 50 000 miles).
If Tesla does not require drivetrain oil change, one can ask them to do it.
Like I said, I'd recommend changing drivetrain oil and it's convenient to do on the second service (50 000 miles), with coolant.
In case of AWD, both drivetrains of course. And in case of Model 3, oil filter as well.

PS! One more note. In case of EV with no oil filter (Model S/X, Leaf etc), it might be more reasonable to do first drivetrain oil change
on the first service mark (25 000 miles, 2 years) and the next one on the third service (6 years).
 

ADK46

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#7
Let me approach this subject indirectly: Replacing tires is not done according to the odometer because we can see them. The replacement interval depends on the environment, type of tire, and how the car is driven. Some insist there is a 6-year calendar limit - a time when the volatile components of the rubber have left the scene. But that's a highly temperature-dependent process that will happen far more quickly to a car parked outside in Phoenix than a car garaged in Minnesota. The 6-year guideline is a crude and expensive estimate for many people.

My point is that if you could see (or test) the many unseen fluids and other such items that may potentially require replacement, you would not replace them according to the odometer or the calendar. Even if you can't see them, you can still employ judgement about them according to your environment and driving habits. Avoid expensive worst-case approximations! Treat advice from the other side of the counter with skepticism.

Unless I learn something to the contrary, or I find out it's an easy DIY task, I'm not changing the oil in my gearboxes. My driving and environment is relatively benign. Those of you in Phoenix tearing up tires on your Performance models - use your own judgement.
 
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4701

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#8
This is why my recommendations are way more "prolonged" than manufacturers.
I have realistic datapoints and I try to estimate optimal "default" values while not going too far without reason (replacing
reduction gear oil every 6 years vs 10 years has no effect on service costs in the long long run)

There are multiple components for "stuff" degradation. "benign" driving and "benign" environment are two of many.
Even ONE parameter that gets out of safe margin is enough.

Tires, for example, they are not just afraid of sun, but actually, ozone is the worst enemy for rubber.
It is impossible to be "all-knowing". Therefore it is unreasonable to conclude things just from personal emotions/ideas.
6-7 years is industry standard. Ozone can be reduced if tire is packed in a plastic bag.
https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.whe...ads/2015/05/JO-Tire-Storage-Guide-garage7.jpg
 

ADK46

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#9
I have a PhD in materials engineering and related experience that aids my own judgement, though I still fall far short of being all-knowing. But I am acquainted with a wide variety of failure mechanisms, which is generally helpful. Failures always have specific causes; failure rates are determined by specific conditions. Corrosion fatigue! Hydrogen embrittlement! Tribology! When you think of them this way, rather than as mysteries (or worse, as explained in popular media), you can isolate likely factors, such as the effect of temperature on the volatilization of the oils used in tire rubber.

Ozone is a good topic to bring up wrt tires, and is why I picked on Phoenix. No significant ozone where I live, normally, but I recently wrote a FB post about Ellie, our long-haired cat - I joked that she was being investigated by the EPA for ozone emissions, a cold-weather, snow-aided, fur-electrification phenomenon. ;)