With electric vehicles on the rise, the biggest question people wonder is an electric vehicle actually cheaper to own?  Does the increase in gas prices offset the cost of possibly having to replace the high voltage battery in an electric car? Today I’ll be breaking down the cost to own a gas car (aka internal combustion engine) versus an electric car.

For the purposes of this comparison, I will be comparing the cost of the Tesla Model Y vs the Lexus RX 350, after 100,000 miles. 

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many variables when making this comparison because gas and electricity are constantly changing.

I also created a Youtube video about this, that can be viewed here

gas versus electric car

Cost of the Lexus RX 350 after 100,000 Miles

Warranty

When you get a new car, whether it is Tesla or Lexus, it comes with a warranty. Any issues that arise within a certain number of miles or time are fixed for free. For the Lexus RX 350, the  basic new car warranty is 48 months or 50,000 miles, and it covers most things. 

I’ve needed a door hinge replacement, trunk hatch lid repair, damper weights, suspension brushings replacement, and a 12v battery replacement.  All of these were replaced for free under warranty. 

Lexus also has a new car warranty called “Lexus Care” which gives you one free oil change and wheel alignment and tire rotation under 5,000 miles. There’s also a power train warranty which covers the engine, powertrain and drive systems for 70,000 miles.

With the new hybrid cars, they cover the battery for 150,000 miles, which covers certain parts of the battery, but it doesn’t seem to cover the actual hybrid battery replacement.

Cost of Maintenance

Oil Change. I called my local Lexus dealer and I was quoted $190 for an oil change replacement. But what I do instead is I buy my oil from Costco, buy a bulk filter from Amazon, and take my Lexus to a Toyota dealer because the labor is cheaper.  By doing this life hack, I save more than $50 for an oil change. With pure synthetic oil, you can change your oil every 10,000 miles. So after getting 1 oil change for free under Lexus Care, you’ll have 9 more oil changes by the time it is 100,000 miles. So the total cost is ~$1,710 for oil change by 100,000 miles. 

Engine and Cabin Filter. With gas cars, there’s an engine and cabin filter to change. If you change them yourself, you’ll save a lot of money. I was quoted $150 per change, which is crazy because of how easy it is to change. You’re supposed to change these filters every 10,000 miles. So by 100,000 miles, it’ll cost ~$1,800. 

Transmission Fluid. There’s also transmission fluid that needs to be changed and it costs ~$250 every 30,000 miles. This means it costs ~$780 for 3 transmission fluid changes by 100,000 miles. 

Timing Belt & Water Pumps. Depending on how old your car is, you may need to maintain a timing belt and water pump. Newer cars use a chain instead of a belt, which doesn’t need to be replaced. However you still need to replace the water pump. If you do need to replace these, it costs ~$1,100. 

60,000 Miles. Most cars have a 60,000 mile major service. With the Lexus dealer, they have a  whole package and they replace oil and filters, rotate tires, replace your brake fluid, replace smart key batteries, and replace spark plugs. For that it costs ~$1,800. 

Engine Coolant. Because the Lexus has an engine, you’ll also have to do engine coolant flushes that costs around $340. With newer cars, you don’t really need a coolant flush until the 100,000 mark. 

Brakes.  The interval to replace brakes range between 30-70,000 miles, depending on how you drive. It costs $300 per axle to replace them and there’s 2 axles, so $600 in total. 

Total Maintenance Cost.  So if we add that all up, by 100,000 miles, it costs a total of  ~$7,770 or $6,600 (if you don’t need a timing belt replacement) to maintain. 

Of course prices will vary based on region and what car you actually have. Lexus is a very reliable car brand, so things should not break easily and you can typically get away with not replacing some things. Also, you can get services cheaper by taking your car to a 3rd party mechanic or Toyota dealer. However, this is just an estimate of how much it would cost. 

lexus engine
Internal Combustion Engine

Gas Prices

This one is tough, because gas prices are always changing and vary based on how much you drive. On average, it takes 7 years to reach 100,000 miles, assuming the average person drives ~15,000 miles a year. 

The Lexus RX 350 has 300 miles and holds 19 gallons of gas. In 1 year, I fill up with gas 50 times and by 7 years, I’ll fill up 350 times. For simplicity sake, I’m going to assume to cost of gas is $4.00 per gallon (I know 2022 was crazy and gas prices were up to $6).  So using these numbers, it costs ~$20,000 of gas after 100,000 miles of driving.

Tires

I also want to consider tires in the cost comparison because tire replacements in electric cars are more frequent due to the increase in torque and weight. For the Lexus RX I replace my tires every 60,000 miles. This means I’d need just one tire replacement by 100,000 miles. I do mine at Costco which costs ~$1,000.

Total Cost of Lexus RX 350

Overall, the cost of ownership of a Lexus RX costs ~$27,600 after 100,000 miles to maintain the engine, replace tires, and fill up with gas. Again, remember this number is variable.

gas
Filing up Gas

Cost of the Tesla Model Y After 100,000 Miles

Warranty

Tesla has a basic vehicle warranty which covers almost any issue with your Tesla up to 50,000 miles. We have had a handful of issues, but it was mostly fit and finish minor issues. If you’re interested you can read my blog post on Tesla after 50,000 miles.

Next is their battery warranty. With our Long Range Model Y, we have a 120,000 mile warranty with at least 70% battery retention. This means anything that goes wrong with the battery or if the charge is reduced below 70% during those miles, they will replace the battery. This actually happened to us when our high voltage battery died suddenly with 50,000 miles. You can watch my Youtube video on that. 

With Tesla and any other electric vehicle, the battery warranty is very important not only because you can’t drive the car without the battery functioning, but also because it is extremely expensive to replace. Other car manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes, and Hyundai have a 100,000 battery warranty. So Tesla’s warranty of 120,000 miles is pretty good.

Maintenance

One huge selling point with electric vehicles is less maintenance because there’s no engine.  I created a blog post on Tesla Maintenance.

Cabin Air Filter.  Instead of replacing it every 10,000 miles like in the Lexus, the replacement in the Tesla Model Y is every 2 years, or every 3 years if you have the HEPA filter. 

You can purchase the air filters on the Tesla website for $17 and I have a blog on How to Replace the Tesla model Y Cabin Air Filter. If you have the HEPA filter, it is a bit more complicated. Tesla recommends changing the HEPA filter every 3 years. So if it takes ~ 7 years to get to 100,000 miles, then the total for replacing the HEPA filter is ~$174.

Brakes. Because Tesla cars have regenerative braking, it uses the motors to slow the car down, instead of the brakes. So if you’re driving “correctly,” then it’s unlikely you’ll ever have the replace the brakes on your Tesla. I couldn’t find accurate pricing for brake fluid flushes and replacements for the Tesla Model 3 or Y, but you can replace the brakes from any shop as it isn’t Tesla specific. The cost of a brake fluid check was ~$24

Tires. Because Tesla is an electric car, the tire may need to be replaced a little sooner. We replaced our stock tires at around 35,000 miles. We could have lasted a little longer, but we were going on a road trip to Oregon at the time and we didn’t want to risk it. We replaced it with Michelin Pilot Sports which cost ~$1300. The tread is very thick and should last longer. So by 100,000 miles, I’d need new tires twice, which would cost a total of $2600 for tires. 

High Voltage Battery. The chance of you needing a new battery is very slim. These batteries generally don’t need to be replaced until you need a new car anyways, with an average replacement being at 300,000 to 500,000 miles. But let’s say you got a lemon and you need to get it replaced and you’re past your warranty. With the Model Y it costs ~$10,000-12,000

Electricity. This is a tough one because it depends on where you live, how often you charge at home, when you charge, etc. However, I just did a Tesla Solar video where I drove 50 miles a day for 5 days, charged the car during off peak charging, and it cost $20 for 5 days. So if I applied that same math to 100,000 miles, it would cost us ~$8,000 to charge the Tesla at home. However, if you are charging frequently at a Tesla Supercharger, the rates are more expensive.

Again, this is a very basic calculation and there are a million factors to consider, however, we are keeping it simple. 

tesla maintenance
Tesla Model Y Tire Change

Total

Overall, for the Tesla Model Y at 100,000 miles, it costs a total of ~$10,774 for maintenance including tires and air filters, and home charging.  But if you somehow get extremely unlucky and have to replace the high voltage battery and it’s not covered under warranty, then adding another $12,000 to the cost, the total would be $22,774 for the Tesla Model Y.

coalinga tesla supercharger
Tesla Supercharger

Summary

Overall, I was pretty surprised at the results. The cost of the Lexus RX 350 is ~$27,600 and the cost of the Tesla Model Y is ~$10,774 (or $22,774 if you’re unlucky) after 100,000 miles. Either way, the Tesla Model Y is still cheaper than the Lexus RX 350 after purchase. 

This makes sense too because Tesla cars have no moving parts, which means less repairs and less maintenance. So overall, it does seem like the Tesla Model Y is a better choice. 

Again, these numbers are gross estimates and vary greatly. Also, I didn’t calculate certain things like tire rotations (which are usually free at Costco and Americas Tires), wiper fluids, and wipers.

DISCLAIMER

The opinions and views expressed on this blog are solely personal by Everyday Chris.  Everyday Chris is not affiliated with nor endorsed by Tesla. It is neither inferred nor implied that products recommended by Everyday Chris nor recommendations given by Everyday Chris are authorized by or in any way connected to Tesla. See Terms & Conditions below for further information.

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