Put Your Tesla to the Test

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 13, 2019

Dear Car Talk:

I recently bought a Tesla Model 3.

My previous car was a 2008 Mini Clubman S. I enjoyed the Clubman immensely, mostly for its legendary "Go-kart handling."

Occasionally, I would enjoy punching the accelerator to experience the full effect of the turbocharger. The turbo would, at times, even be important for avoiding dicey traffic situations.

I know that driving a gasoline engine hard can shorten its lifespan, especially over time.

My question is whether hard acceleration has the same effect on electric cars. It's not that I plan to drive like a drag racer, but punching the Tesla can be so darn fun (within the posted speed limit, of course!).

What's your take? -- Jim

I don't think electric motors really care how hard you "punch" them, Jim. They're designed to go from zero to 100% in an instant, and don't experience the same kind of mechanical stresses that internal combustion engines do.

There are no moving pistons, no rings, no crankshaft, no connecting rods or bearings. That's one of the great advantages of electric motors. Many fewer moving parts.

Of course, the engine (or electric motor in the case of your Tesla) isn't the only thing that can be harmed by hard acceleration. Every part of the car's suspension gets stressed from all that force, along with every nut and bolt that holds the car together.

So, it's not pain-free. And if you drive an electric car hard, you'll eventually develop squeaks, rattles and failed suspension parts like you would on any other car. But it is a heck of a lot of fun!

I think you have it about right, Jim. Once in a while, it's fine to punch the accelerator if that makes you smile.

And if you're concerned about the long-term ramifications, put a dollar in the console between the seats every time you floor it. That'll help pay for the wheel bearings, struts, ball joints and tie rods you'll eventually need.

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