Tesla Oil Filter: Does Tesla Really Have an Oil Filter?

One of the merits of electric cars, including Tesla, over internal combustion engines is that EVs have few parts. As a result, the parts are not prone to wear and tear and require less maintenance.

Technically, the electric motor used in electric cars instead of the internal combustion engines in conventional cars uses fewer parts and requires no motor oil and oil filter. But a teardown process carried out in a Tesla Model Y reveals that it features an oil filter underneath. Does this mean Tesla electric motor uses engine oil and oil filters?

Does Tesla Really Have an Oil Filter

Does a Tesla have an oil filter?

To ensure you are still on the right track, the oil filter is not for the electric motor. And it’s not precisely for the transmission but more like a gearbox unit.

A Model Y teardown by Munro & Associates shows that all-electric Tesla cars have oil filters, but the filters are not located where they are found on internal combustion engines. Munro explains that the oil filter is not for the electric motor and not precisely for the transmission but more like a gearbox.

While still underneath the car, Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates, pointed at something that looked like a regular engine oil filter at the front motor. This keeps people wondering what is the oil filter for since we already know that EVs don’t use engine oil.

The engineer went ahead to explain that the oil filter is not really for the transmission, but it’s more like a gearbox. “A gearbox will use oil, not a transmission fluid,” he added.

The idea of featuring an oil filter in the Tesla gearbox isn’t new. There are several moving components somewhere in the car that need cooling and lubrication. According to a CNET report in 2018, a traditional dipstick is used to check the oil level in a Tesla Model 3.

Mechanically, oil tends to reduce over time, and even in a very sealed compartment, oil tends to migrate somewhere else. Plus, mechanical damage can happen and cause the oil to leak. Hence, there should be a means of checking the oil level, and that’s why Tesla installed the dipstick.

Sure, you can check the oil levels with electronic sensors. But Tesla chooses to simplify things by installing a dipstick.

The rest of the teardown video compares the electric motors of different EV manufacturers on some of their electric cars. Unfortunately, Sandy Munro did not go ahead to scrutinize the technical details, advantages, and disadvantages and why Tesla features an oil filter.

Here at Rx Mechanic, we wonder how often this filter should be replaced. According to a Tesla oil filter Reddit thread two years ago, the Tesla oil filter replacement is done every 2 to 3 years or 20,000 to 30,000 miles.

The oil filter in Tesla gearbox or differentials shows Tesla wants to take extra care. Ordinarily, differential and transmissions do not require that kind of oil filter.

Like the transmission in internal combustion engines, the internal transmission components are bathed in oil, which helps cool and lubricate them. By so doing, it reduces friction and wear and tear.

While Tesla features helical cut gears to minimize friction in the transmission, friction is not reduced to 100 percent. Hence, there will be metal shavings in transmission under normal use. These metal shavings will mar the transmission fluid. Presumably, the Tesla filter is designed to filter these metal shavings and other contaminants in the transmission.

While Tesla recommended Maintenance Service Interval Booklet did not say anything about filter and Tesla oil change interval, some experts recommend changing the transmission oil and filter every 20,000 to 30,000 miles or every 2 to 3 years.

When looking at Tesla oil filter size and specs, they look ordinary and are likely economy specs produced by Supertech by Walmart, Honeywell, or Wix.

So yes, Tesla has oil filters, but they are not designed for the electric motor and are not taxed like the oil filter in a regular internal combustion engine.

Why don’t you have oil filters in Electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles do not have internal combustion engines in conventional cars. They are all-electric vehicles, meaning they are all powered by electricity. The electric motor does not have internal moving and reciprocating parts like pistons, piston rings, connecting rods, pushrods, valves, crankshafts, camshafts, et cetera. And hence, there is no need for engine oil.

The oil filter filters particles and other contaminants in the oil, ensuring only clean oil travels to every nook and cranny part of the engine for optimum cooling and lubrication. Hence, since the electric motor in electric vehicles does not use oil, it also does not require an oil filter.

However, there’s an oil filter underneath the Tesla Aero cover. But as explained earlier, the oil filter is not for the electric motor, and neither is there any internal combustion engine hidden somewhere. The filter is designed not precisely for the transmission but for the gearbox.

Final words

Tesla, at least the Model 3 and Model Y, have oil filters. But it’s not what you think. The oil filter is not for the electric motor; hell no, there is no internal combustion engine hidden anywhere in Tesla cars. The Tesla oil filter is designed for the transmission.

However, according to Sandy Munro, The CEO of Munro and Associates, the oil filter is not precisely for the transmission but more like for a gearbox.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

Recent Posts