Used Tesla Buying Guide

Every tech enthusiast dreams of driving a Tesla, but not everyone  can afford to buy a new model. With the entry level model 3 model starting from only $30,000 all the way to a fully loaded Model X going above $100K, Tesla owners report some of the highest levels of satisfaction of any vehicle on the market with 99.6% of respondents saying the Model 3 is a pleasure to drive. The Model 3 became a best seller in the US and delivered over 190,000 vehicles, since its debut in 2017, capturing 67% of the market for electric cars in the second quarter of 2019. This abundance of Tesla’s is not only good for the environment, but also good for customers that are interested in buying  a used tesla, because more and more pre owned models in excellent condition are coming on to  the market.

Anytime you buy a pre-owned vehicle, there are certain things that you need to take into consideration, especially regarding electric cars like Tesla. We’ve made it simple for you and compiled a list with pros and cons you should be aware of before buying a used Tesla.

Warranty

A new tesla is protected by a New Vehicle Limited Warranty for 4 years or 50,000 miles that covers the repair or replacement necessary to correct any Tesla factory defects under normal driving conditions.

The battery and drive train are covered for a period of 8 years or up to 125,000 miles depending on the specific make and model.

If you purchase a used tesla from Tesla’s certified pre owned system, the Model S and Model X come with an additional either 4-year or 50,000 mile warranty or 2-year, up to 100,000 total mile warranty. The Model 3 will come with the remainder of the original 4-year or 50,000 mile warranty. The balance of original Battery and Drive Unit Limited warranty still applies for used cars regardless of model.

But i  f you purchase your used Tesla from a private seller or dealer, you receive the remaining balance of the original warranty and are not allowed to purchase an extended service agreement.

It’s a tradeoff between going to Tesla directly, or purchasing from a private seller because they often have more available inventory and lower prices than Tesla’s certified pre owned system.

Door Handle Issues

An important small detail and common issue you should be aware of is the quality of the door handles. Because they are definitely not as straightforward as most cars, being instead infused with technology, these elements can get easily damaged. In fact, many Model 3 and Model S owners have reported broken or “frozen” exterior door handles. 

Limited Need for Maintenance

On the other hand, electric cars have a low need for maintenance, the Tesla models having only about 20 moving parts compared to the 2,000 of an internal combustion engine vehicle. Unlike gasoline cars, Tesla cars require no traditional oil changes, fuel filters, spark plug replacements or emission checks. As electric cars, even brake pad replacements are rare because regenerative braking returns energy to the battery, significantly reducing wear on brakes. Tesla cars do not require annual maintenance. Because of the highly specialized nature of Tesla cars, it is recommended you do not take your car to a non-tesla shop for maintenance or repairs, and your warranty coverage could be effected if they break anything.

MCU Problems

A smarter car is something that we all dream of, but what we must be aware of is that with great intelligence, comes a greater chance of something failing, like the MCU on the older models of the Tesla Model S, for example. A great number of users mentioned that the Achilles heel of this car is definitely the aforementioned microcontroller whose memory chip can fail from too many read-write processes. It seems that this might be a recurrent problem that can still be found in newer car models too, so this is yet another aspect to consider before buying a used Tesla.

Depreciation

Tesla has the slowest depreciation rate in it’s segment, even when compared to class leading gas powered vehicles like the Mercedes S-class and BMW 7 series. This means that your Tesla vehicle will retain it’s value over time far greater than comparable electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, or Chevy Volt.

Eco-friendly

To mention a general benefit, an obvious pro of getting yourself a secondhand electric car is that you’ll not only contribute to the preservation of the planet by driving a car that doesn’t pollute while it’s moving, but you also cut off the air contamination that is an intrinsic part of the production process of any vehicle, household appliance or   gadget. So, a used Tesla can help you diminish the impact cars have on the environment in two ways: by totally eliminating the emissions while driving it and by breaking the cycle of production related pollution.

Bodywork Problems

As is often the case with the majority of second hand vehicles, Tesla seems to have some problems of their own when it comes to drivers complaining about the poor bodywork of their cars, including but not limited to issues with the paint job, the trims and even the exterior lights. It seems that these issues tend to be more prominent in their “budget model”, namely the Model 3, but this shouldn’t discourage you from buying a used Tesla since these small snags are present in all car models, be them electric, petrol or diesel.

Low Cost

Electric cars are not only good for the environment but also for your wallet, the electrical energy needed to fuel them being low cost, either by using the superchargers in the case of Tesla, or various charging stations that can be found across the country. Besides that, Tesla cars are able to charge themselves with regenerative braking, overall saving you fuel costs over the life of your ownership of the vehicle.

Tablet Problems

The huge touchscreen tablet is the well-defined trademark of Tesla but as cool and futuristic as it might seem, there have been some small but annoying situations where it malfunctioned, stopped working, leaked fluid or got bubbles on the surface; at least in the older Model S versions. Because this tablet is the central command panel of the car, it is of utmost importance to have it working properly at all times, so it’s always a good idea to double check its functionality when picking up a used Tesla.

Instant Swiftness

Environmental considerations aside, Tesla’s are popular for yet another reason: they can be crazy quick, thanks to the high torque of the electric motor. The idea of instant acceleration is not a myth when it comes to electric vehicles and with a used Tesla Model S you can actually achieve 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds and for almost half the price of a new one. With enough research and an eye for detail, you can find a pretty good deal on a used tesla.

High Repair Costs

A tesla repair that’s not covered under warranty can be an expensive endeavor, the manufacturer working only with original parts and only in authorized service centers, which may also mean that your car might to be stuck for quite some time in the workshop. 

Anyway, to avoid the usual issues a pre-used vehicle comes with, we’d recommend you buy a Tesla that still has its 8 year battery and drive train warranty to make sure any critical repairs are covered.

A Tesla is A Tesla

Tesla’s are special vehicles, with a buzz and reputation unlike anything  else and Tesla owners report some of the  highest levels of satisfaction of any vehicle on the market. In other words, driving a Tesla is not just functional, but it also is an experience, that the majority of drivers describe as being totally unique. Of course, there are other extremely advanced EVs on the market, but Elon Musk’s Tesla is the perfect blend between unrivaled quality and affordability.