Tesla Model S Battery Upgrades Explained

Tesla Model S Battery Upgrades Explained

Tesla Model S cars come with various types of battery sizes depending on the trim that you purchased when you bought your Tesla. If you own a Tesla, you may eventually decide that a battery upgrade might be worth your money. The bigger the battery, the better the performance.

Upgrading the battery on your Tesla Model S will bring benefits such as higher performance and additional range between charges. The upgrades in most cases are not free and take time. You will need to consider the extra cost and time without a vehicle.

When purchasing a Tesla Model S, you will want to consider the type of driving you will be doing. The different trim packages offer battery options that allow for different ranges and power performance. Upgrading your battery on your Tesla can be as simple as a software upgrade, or as complicated as swapping out the entire battery pack through a hardware upgrade. Read on for an explanation of the Model S battery upgrade.

Model S Battery Upgrades Explained

Your battery will depend on the year and the trim of the Model S that you have. Battery options range from 70 kWh to 100 kWh, each with different performance specifications and distances.

There are two ways of upgrading your Tesla battery—through a software upgrade where they unlock the software-controlled capability, and by physically removing your old battery pack and replacing it with the new upgraded pack.

Model S Battery Software Upgrade

In a software upgrade, the hardware is already there. Tesla will build their cars with the hardware installed for the highest-end option. This allows them to streamline their manufacturing process, and allow them to be more efficient in their manufacturing plant. They control the upgraded option through software. When you pay for the option, they just go into the system and unlock it, giving you the option that you paid for.

Software upgrades are easy on you and on the manufacturer for a variety of reasons.

  • Software upgrades are not intrusive.
  • You do not have to go without your vehicle.
  • Tesla does not have to employ a technician or house your vehicle while it is being worked on.

Software upgrades are usually quick, and you have your vehicle back the same day.

In the case of a Model S going from a 70 kWh battery to a 75 kWh battery, the manufacturer simply taps into your vehicle computer and unlocks the capability. Unlocking the capability gives you the extended range and power of the 75 kWh battery simply by enabling those extra battery cells in the vehicle.

While software upgrades are great, sometimes the vehicle is not built with a higher-end part already installed. Or, the upgrade you want is drastically higher than what you already have. For instance, going from a 70 kWh to a 90 kWh may not be possible through software alone. In this case, you will need a hardware upgrade.

Model S Battery Hardware Upgrade

Hardware upgrades are more intrusive, which means the cost can be a lot more expensive. There are other factors to consider as well.

  • Can your vehicle fit the new battery pack?
  • Can your vehicle’s suspension take the added weight of a bigger battery?

During a hardware upgrade, the manufacturer will take out the old pack and put in the new pack. They will also have to make software adjustments to your vehicle.

The newer Model S comes with a 100 kWh battery, which has driven some consumers to want that battery pack. Tesla however is not recommending that upgrade if your vehicle did not come with it originally. They state that it is too big and heavy for many vehicles and suspensions. The cost to retrofit those vehicles is too expensive.

Older models that do not have the 100 kWh battery can do a physical upgrade to a 90 kWh battery pack, which gives you a great performance boost as well as an extended range. Doing an upgrade like this will take some time, so expect to not have your vehicle for a while.

When purchasing a Tesla Model S, it may be helpful to know what you are getting before you purchase it. If you think you are going to want more power or an extended range between charges, really consider which battery pack is best for you.

Tesla Model S Trim Packages

Tesla vehicles, like all vehicle manufacturers, have different trims that allow you to get different options within the model that you want. The options for the Tesla Model S are similar to that of most other vehicles but one important thing to look at is the battery because it determines the power and range of which the vehicle can go between charges.

There are a few trim packages to consider that might help you with what vehicle and options to purchase, and it might help you avoid the cost of upgrading the vehicle in the future if you purchase ahead of time what you think you will need. Here are some trim options.

  • Model S 70/70D
  • Model S 85/85D
  • Model S P85D
  • Model S P90D
  • Model S P100D

The “D” in the model simply means dual-motor, all-wheel drive. The “P” stands for performance and, if you look at the specifications between these cars, you will see that the models that have the “P” have a considerable amount more horsepower than the other models.

While upgrading a vehicle can just be a preference, sometimes a vehicle, as it gets older, needs some maintenance and the decision can be made to go ahead and upgrade since you have to do the maintenance anyway. Indications for a battery upgrade can include a few warning signs.

Tesla Model S Battery Upgrade Indications

Indications that it may be time for battery maintenance or upgrade can come in the form of age and miles on the vehicle, as well as performance indications.

Performance indicators can also be a sign for needed maintenance from wear and tear on the vehicle as well.

Age of the Vehicle

Tesla has a battery and drive warranty that is offered when the vehicle reaches eight years of age or it reaches 150,000 miles. During this time, they will do the required maintenance and even replace the battery if needed. This would be a great time to discuss the option of an upgrade.

Performance Indications

There are a couple of performance indications that might tell you it is time for maintenance or upgrades. One of which is reduced range. If you have noticed that you have suddenly lost more than 20 percent of your range between charges, that is a good time to consider a replacement or upgrade.

Another indication would be that your power in the vehicle is flickering or that the vehicle is not holding a charge at all. If these things persist, it is time to have the vehicle looked at. You also may be experiencing some indications that could be more catastrophic.


Upgrading a battery can give you great performance advantages as well as extend the range of your vehicle between charges. Like a standard motor vehicle, upgrading can be very expensive and it can take some considerable time. If the upgrade is not software-driven, expect the vehicle to be in the shop for a while.

Upgrading the battery also means additional weight and potential loss of some space, depending on the design. There may be some upgrades that need to happen in the suspension as well to accommodate the additional weight. All these things should be considered before deciding on an upgrade.

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The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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