If an automaker announced it was distributing its service information for free, it would be a major news story. Recently, an automaker did just that, without press release; without fanfare. The strangest part is that it was Tesla who pulled it off.
On May 20, 2022, Tesla quietly changed the pricing on service.tesla.com to $0.00 for service manuals, TSBs and other critical service information like wiring diagrams. I found this out when researching this issue’s Tesla battery service article.
When I logged onto the Tesla service website, I expected to pay $30 for a few hours of access to verify some information. Instead, at checkout, it was $0.00. This is not for one model, but $0 covered all Tesla Models over the past 10 years.
I am not a Tesla “fanboy,” and generally detest Tesla owners for their smug attitudes, and I have only worked on one Tesla. But, it is hard to hate an auto company that makes its service information available for free.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. Compiling, posting and hosting service information online can cost millions. Hyundai was the first to offer its service information for free more than 20 years ago, but the Korean manufacturer eventually moved to a paid subscription model.
Easy access to service information meant owners not near a Hyundai dealer could have their vehicle serviced at an independent shop. I think Hyundai understood that if an owner of a $12,000 2003 Elantra couldn’t get their car fixed when they were 20 years old, chances are they would not buy a $40,000 Palisade SUV when they are 45 years old.
I think Tesla’s release of service information is more about creating this long-term loyalty by empowering owners to have repairs performed outside of the Tesla service facilities and mobile fleet.
Elon Musk has admitted that the wait times for service was unacceptable. He also knows it will take time for Tesla to build more service centers and hire more technicians.
I think every aftermarket company or association should give Tesla an award and issue press releases for making service information free. We should use this moment to “guilt” other OEMs into posting their service information for free. One technician I talked to had another theory. He could see this as a way for Tesla to build a list of technicians for recruiting purposes. This is a great idea because if a technician is looking at Tesla service information, they probably aren’t your everyday oil changer.