At some point during your use of the Tesla model 3, you may need to replace the 12 volt battery that powers most of the critical functions of the vehicle.
It is used to power your Tesla electric vehicle’s lights, locks, windows, entertainment system, airconditioning, and lots more. Most importantly, it is used to regulate the safety of the vehicle – disconnects and reconnects the high voltage wirings when needed. It is also used for the initial ignition of the Tesla vehicle.
How much you pay to replace your 12v battery depends on several factors such as the make of the battery, your location, and at what point during your ownership of the Tesla that you are replacing the battery.
Note: When you have battery issues, you might notice the Charging error no power message on your tesla. If you do, I’ve written an article on this to help you out.
In this article I will be providing all the details you need to know about replacing the 12 volt battery on a Tesla model 3.
How Much is a Model 3 12v Battery Replacement?
The quick answer is that it depends. Stay with me as I walk you through the technicalities of the 12V battery on a Tesla Model 3.
Up till 2021, Tesla Model 3 and indeed all Tesla vehicles had 12V batteries made from lead acid. The lead acid battery has a shorter lifespan and the batteries were dying on Tesla owners with no warning whatsoever.
Then in late 2021, Tesla changed the batteries, first in the models S and X to Lithium Ion, and later in the 3 and Y (in 2022).
When Tesla made this change, Elon Musk stated that the idea was to make the 12V battery last as long as the main battery pack. This also made the new 12V batteries to be included in the general battery warranty.
Note: If you want the best 12v batteries for your tesla model 3 to replace the current one with, check the round up I did in the linked post.
This background is important because it essentially controls everything about the cost of replacing the 12V battery on your Tesla Model 3.
- If your Model 3 was manufactured early 2022 or earlier, it is likely to have come with a lead acid battery.
The cost of replacing that is about $140 including cost of battery and labour.
- If your Model 3 was manufactured from mid 2022 or later, then it is likely to have come with a Lithium Ion battery.
The cost of this would depend on whether the battery is still under warranty or not.
All Tesla vehicles batteries come with a year-based/mile-based warranty. For Tesla model 3, the warranty period for the lithium ion 12V battery is eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. For Model S and Model X, the warranty is eight years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first.
- If your Tesla model 3 battery is still within the warranty, then replacing the 12 volt battery will cost you absolutely nothing.
- But if the battery is no longer within warranty, then it will cost you anything from $200 to $500, including cost of battery and labour.
Also, the warranty on the 12-volt battery comes with terms and conditions just like any other warranty. For the Tesla model 3, the 12 volt battery warranty terms and conditions include but not limited to:
- Tesla is liable to replacing the battery at no cost to you only if the defect on the battery occurred under normal use
- Also, Tesla is liable to replacing the battery at no cost to you if the capacity goes below 30% within the warranty period.
For the purpose of this article, I will be providing you with details of battery replacement cost, assuming that the replacement cost is on you.
The cost of replacing the 12 volt battery on your Tesla model 3 if the cost is on you depends on three major factors namely:
- The make of the 12V battery (lead acid vs lithium ion)
- The service centre that you go to (Tesla vs third party)
- Your location
Lead Acid Vs Lithium Ion – If your Tesla Model 3 has a lead acid 12V battery, then the cost of the replacement battery will be around $100 to $120, and about $25 to $30 dollars for labour. This gives a total in the range of $125 to $150
If yours comes with a lithium ion 12V battery, then the cost of the replacement battery will be around around $450 for the battery and $50 for labour.
If your Tesla model 3 option is High Performance as opposed to Long Range, you may spend up to $800 to $1000 total for the replacement.
Service Center – You are always guaranteed to get the cheapest prices at a Tesla service center. This is because they do not pass any extra costs to you unlike third-party service centers.
If your experience has been that you have to wait for a long time before Tesla service centers attend to your service request, you don’t have to worry about that when it comes to replacing the 12V battery.
This is because, Tesla treats such request as a safety case and gives it top priority. So, you are sure to get help immediately.
Location – Naturally, the cost of products and services vary across locations. Replacing the Tesla Model 3 12V battery is no different. So, use any figures that I provide here, or figures that you get from other Tesla owners as a guide and just make sure to stay within the range.
How Often Does A Tesla Model 3 Need 12v Battery Replacement?
Again, it depends. It depends on the make of your 12V battery and your usage practice with the Tesla vehicle.
Lead Acid 12V Battery
If your Tesla Model 3 comes with a lead acid battery, then it has a shorter lifespan and requires more frequent change. For reference, understand this about lead acid batteries:
- The best-quality lead acid batteries have at most 1000 cycles in them before they start to degrade rapidly
- They should never be below 50% charge to maintain healthy lifespan
- They need constant maintenance like watering and corrosion cleanup
- They have 33% self discharge per month
Add these up and you find that you have to replace the lead acid battery every 1.2 years or so. And that’s with normal use.
Lithium Ion 12V Battery
If, on the other hand, your Tesla model 3 comes with a lithium ion battery, then it is expected to have pretty much the same lifespan and performance as the main battery pack. That is why it is included in the warranty cover.
A tesla Model 3 12V lithium ion battery is supposed to last anything from 300,000 to 400,000 miles with normal use.
It is also supposed to retain about 75% of its capacity within the 8-year or 100,000 warranty period.
Whether this is true in practice remains to be see. For reference, understand this about Lithium Ion batteries:
- They have more than 5000 cycles in them before they begin to degrade
- Zero maintenance is needed
- 100% of the charge can be used with no issues
- Have 2% self discharge per month. Just make sure it is disconnected when not in use for long periods
Add these up and you can use a single 12V lithium ion battery for 10 years.Well, maybe 5 years on a Tesla.
Other Factors That Affect Frequency of Change
Apart from the inherent factors above, there are practices that may degrade the quality and performance of the battery, and warrant your changing it more frequently than you normally should. I have listed these practices below in detail:
- Exposing the Tesla Model 3 12V battery to extreme weathers, hot or cold
- Leaving accessories or the car itself on, when not in use
- Excessive use of accessories and Sentry Mode on the Tesla Model 3, especially with the frunk open.
Minimize your use of accessories, especially on the 12V power socket. For the 12V socket, I recommend that you only use it when absolutely necessary.
- Hooking the 12V battery to charge it directly.
Do not charge the 12V battery directly. No matter what device you use to charge it. Do not use even battery chargers that are advertised as designed for the Tesla 12V battery.
The 12V battery will be charged by the main battery back.
- Leaving the battery connected even though the vehicle is not in use for very long periods
How to Know If Tesla Model 3 Needs A 12v Battery Replacement
If your Tesla Model 3 is up to date (software), then you will get notifications on the touchscreen when the 12V battery starts to malfunction.
You may also notice this when components such as headlights, airconditioning, windows or locks start to perform strangely.
Are Teslas Model 3 12v Batteries Hard to Replace?
No, they are not hard to replace. You can replace them at a service station for an affordable price.
You can also DIY if you have the technical knack.
How to Get the Tesla Model 3 12v Battery Replacement For As Cheap As Possible
I always say that the cheapest way to get a repair or replacement done is to make sure it is under warranty. Haha.
But, more seriously, if your 12V battery is no longer under warranty, the cheapest way to replace the 12V battery is to have Tesla service center do the replacement for you!