Just now there are starting to be a lot of Tesla Model 3s appearing on the secondary market. A used Tesla would seem like a great way to get into the Tesla EV parade. And based on how cars depreciate the minute you drive them off of a dealer lot should mean Model 3 prices will be fairly inexpensive.
But you don’t drive Teslas off of dealer lots. It has no dealers. So that should be the first indication things with Teslas are not like other vehicles.
Tesla Model 3s keep their value longer than your typical ICE car
Now iSeeCars has search engine data to show that Teslas keep their value longer than your typical ICE car. The data shows that used Model 3s are selling for prices close to what new ones sell for. That means budget-conscious buyers should consider just buying a new Model 3.
RELATED: Electra-Curious? Buy One Of These Used EVs Cheap For Under $10,000
Some used Tesla Model 3 sedans sold for under $1,000 less than a new one. No mention was made as to how many miles or added features these Model 3s had. But even very low mileage used Teslas selling for less than $1,000 means they are not good cars to consider buying used.
Used EVs have increased the overall percentage of used cars to 6.5%
Over the past few months used EVs have increased the overall percentage of used cars to 6.5%. Expectations are that in the not-too-distant future the Tesla Model 3 could make up 40-50% of the entire EV market. That’s how many Tesla has spit out over the last several years.
“The Model 3 invasion of the used EV market has begun,” Recurrent CEO Scott Case told Teslarati. “It could be 40-50% of all used EV sales in the US within a few years, matching its market share in 2018 of new EV sales.” One thing that Recurrent found is that EV inventories have been shrinking. Especially new EVs from Tesla, GM, and Fiat, are not plentiful at dealerships.
EV inventories are snapped up faster than they can be replenished
This shows that EV inventories are getting snapped up faster than they can be replenished. US dealerships have also indicated there are greatly reduced used EV inventories, too. So EVs of all stripes are finding buyers at a faster clip.
In the past, Tesla has said it fears the ability to meet demand, not how much demand there will be. It looks like it might be hitting that tilt in the balance. Though it has shipped record amounts of all Tesla models, it looks like it isn’t enough to satisfy demand. It is the biggest indication yet that the electrification of America is ramping up. It won’t be long before EVs become mainstream.
Buying a used Tesla
Tesla have been selling cars for a number of years now and there is a steadily growing used car market. Cars are now starting to fall outside warranty based on time and not just mileage in most countries, although the battery and drive train warranty is still covered until the cars are 8 years old. Only a few cars are now outside all Tesla warranty, typically cars over 8 years old or cars that have exceeded the mileage limits Tesla have on the battery and motor on the Model 3 and Y and the Model S and X first delivered in 2020.
Buying used from Tesla is an option and they will add 1 year/10k miles of warranty to whatever the car has left from the new car general warranty. The battery and motor warranty is left unchanged. Tesla are not overly enthusiastic over selling used cars and do not have a typical used car or CPO operation. Their inventory counts are generally low and their part exchange prices are such that most sellers try and sell privately. Their used cars are therefore generally lease returns or cars that were covered by a buy back guarantee they used to offer.
Buying used from a non Tesla dealer requires you to do your homework as many dealers simply do not understand the cars and options. We've been tracking the used car market for a number of years and the adverts are often wrong. Common mistakes to look out for are: ludicrous mentioned on cars without it, claims of free supercharging, ambiguous wording over "full self driving capable" without clarifying if the option has been bought or whether it's just the hardware has been installed, and understanding on the Tesla warranties. You also need to be careful about the quoted range of the cars, and the stated performance as dealers often quote the latest spec on older cars which can be considerably different.
You can find comprehensive car listings covering just about every country Tesla sell cars in to make your search easier, we even include more cars for sale at Tesla than Tesla advertise, but for independent sellers, follow our guides on how to confirm the options a car has and get things in writing from the seller if they are important to you when buying and can be hard to determine, such as free supercharging.
Buying a used Tesla from Tesla themselves, a dealer or privately.
Traditionally the best quality cars came from the manufacturer's dealerships and 'CPO' or Certified Pre Owned cars. The manufacturer will have a minimum standard the car must meet including mechanical and cosmetic standards before selling the car, and the car would come with a good warranty. Tesla is no different with the exception that their cosmetic standards are fairly minimal and the inspection is now largely mechanical. We have created a guide to buying a used car from Tesla to cover the various considerations on a purchase from Tesla.
Buying from an independent dealer is a half-way house, they should ensure the car is mechanically sound and they will typically address cosmetic issues to make the car as attractive as possible. They will also typically include a limited warranty, often by law, and may offer to provide an extended warranty for a fee. The cars can generally be inspected before purchase (unlike Tesla who only offer photographs) and even driven. A potential risk is if the car was bought at auction from Tesla as Tesla may have removed options such as unlimited supercharging, premium connectivity and autopilot but these changes have not yet been reflected in the car. It can be very hard to tell, so any such promises made by the dealer that these are still in force should be in writing to protect the buyer.
The final option is to buy from a private seller. Where cars are under the original warranty this approach is relatively risk free aside from the exchange of money and other guidance on buying any car privately such as checking there is no finance on the car, whether it is accident damaged etc. You can usually also see the owners MyTesla account to check on supercharging status etc.
Resources to find more information about a specific car
We've identified a number of ways for you to find out what options a car has:
- If you can sit in the car, you can find a lot of information about the car from the menus using the guide to finding out what options a Tesla has..
- If the seller has the login details for the Mytesla account to which the car is linked, ask the seller to go to Car information after getting the option code string from their MyTesla account and it will list all the options the car has.
- You can also roughly find the date when the car was built by getting the last 6 digits of the vin and entering them into the Tesla factory gate date vin checker. This will return the dates for cars with a similar vin and when they left the factory.
- If you have the VIN number of the car you can also use our VIN decoder which will tell you the most common matches of cars over time with similar digits to help validate the owners model claims.
Tesla have now added the ability to see the service record for a car via the app. Dealer sales may not be easy to show you the data as it is unlikely they will have access, but private sellers should be able to. While seeing the service record is reassuring, it is worth remembering that Tesla say the cars do not need routine servicing and so little to no servicing is possible. It's also possible that buyers have used independent dealers to service the car as these are cheaper than Tesla , sometimes more local as service centres can be some distance away and because Tesla don't mandate using them, in fact it can be hard to get a service appointment. These services will not show up on the app. We suggest that you see a service history on the app as a bonus and not a requirement.
And finally, using the year the car was built, you can see the what changes were made before and after a given year by checking our Tesla Model History guide. Any changes made in the year of a specific car need to be checked with the seller as changes have historically occurred at different times of the year and cars are not built in strict vin order. We would recommend that any feature that is important to your buying decision is confirmed with the seller.
Tesla now 5 used models available to buy. We're created some model specific buyers guides:
Our thoughts on the other models in the range are below:
The car that started it all.
Production finished a long time ago and this could be destined for collector's status. There are plenty of Left hand drive cars around, but right hand cars are very rare and carry a premium.
The cars do have issues, the version 3 battery suffers from degradation issues and the PEM is an expensive item that fails, and parts can be on a long back order. We've heard of a bricked battery taking the best part of a year to replace. They also need modifications and adaptors to use on T2 and Chademo chargers. They're not for the feint hearted to buy and we suggest that anyone considering them either needs to have deep pockets or be technically very astute.
If you are considering buying an original roadster we suggest you do some serious research and talk to specialists before doing so as we have heard of a number of cars being off the road for significant periods of time (measured in years) waiting for replacement parts as they are simply not available.
The new roadster has been promised for some time and has been delayed a number of times. We strongly suspect this model is effectively a new shape Model S Plaid+ in coupe form and will be launched at or around the same time as the MS Plaid+. Current time-scales suggest that will be early 2022 but it is dependant on a new battery pack and Tesla being able to deliver the performance figures they have promised. Whether the Roadster will offer significantly more than the MS Plaid+ is unknown, but if they do make it, you can expect YouTube to overrun with drag racing videos of the car. We just hope that the changes allow for a more complete sports car than straight line acceleration and make it a genuine drivers car.
The cybertruck has been revealed and a factory is being built but it still feels a long way from becoming reality. It's also likely to be a America market (including Canada and possibly Mexico) model to start with.
We've drawn all the technology together into one section although it's worth noting that the Roadster is fairly unique and so the following does not apply.
The fabled high tech is a mixture of actually quite traditional tech with some fantastic innovation. The navigation system is now a home brew system without many options for instance you cannot set way points, with the route superimposed onto a google map.
Autopilot boils down to a number of choices and in each case the cars may have the supporting hardware but not necessarily have the software enabled.
- Cars too early to get it built before late 2014
- AP1 from late 2014/2015, the Mobileye developed capability that is pretty rock solid in terms of what it does but has a limited set of features (see our technology guide for the key differences.
- EAP on cars from the end of 2016 which to all intents and purposes does similar things to AP1 but using Teslas own hardware (see later point on hardware). EASP is downgraded to AP if the car is resold by Tesla.
- AP (not to be confused with AP1) which is the current initial level of autopilot and is a stripped down version of EAP. This has become standard on all new cars with the exception of a small number of compliance cars in certain markets.
- Full Self Driving which doesn't yet offer much over and above EAP but when purchased against AP replaces the features that were stripped from EAP when they reduced it to just AP.
The hardware is either none existent, referred to as HW1 for AP1, HW2 for EAP and FSD, which has subsequently had 2 upgrades called HW2.5 with a few extra processes and redundancy and HW3 which has much greater processing power. We have produced a guide to the differences features due to the different hardware versions to help explain what each does and does not give.
Compared to other premium cars, features like head up display, 360 parking view, Apple carplay and Android Auto, reliable speed camera reading at all speeds, augmented reality sat nav etc are all missing.
We've provided detail battery information in each of the buyers guides. The general rule we would follow is that larger batteries are the preference as in general they have better performance, charger quicker, and with the M3 and MY are higher specification cars. The only exception to this is with a significant facelift where we would option a smaller battery facelift car than a larger battery prefacelift car, for instance a MS 75D facelift would be our preference over a MS 90D pre facelift.
What to look out for when buying
For each model we have now created a buyers guide which includes the common issues with the cars and these should be checked. Obviously if under Tesla warranty most things will be fixed although Tesla are increasingly reisitant to changes you might expect to be warranty items. A list of the basic checks is below:
- Check the warranty status and title. Tesla are reluctant to support cars which have had significant accident damage.
- Check the paperwork, the seller is the owner and whether there is any outstanding finance on the car.
- The specification, and when buying froma dealer be mindful that free unlimited supercharging does not always transfer to the next owner. Our guide to free supercharging tells you how to find out the status.
- Autopilot status and to a lesser extent premium connectivity. Sadly the information in the car can not always be relied upon when buying from a dealer, especially if they= dealer bought the car from auction or directly from Tesla. Our guide to full self driving explains the problem in more detail. If a dealer is selling a car with FSD then get it in writing and assured by the dealer that the car has the option.
Shopping for a used Tesla? This is one of the best starting points
Shopping for a used car comes with a lot of uncertainty. Used Tesla electric cars are no different. But if you are shopping for a used Tesla, this video guide is a good place to start.
Rich Benoit is one of the foremost experts on Teslas. He's an independent Tesla mechanic who has rebuilt many of these cars—some from salvaged wrecks bought at insurance auctions.
Benoit's YouTube channel, Rich Rebuilds, is full of videos offering a frank look at Tesla ownership, and he runs a shop that specializes in Tesla service.
The first piece of advice is to avoid buying a used car directly from Tesla.
The Tesla website doesn't offer much information on used cars. It doesn't even show photos of specific cars, Benoit noted. To see what a car actually looks like, you need to contact Tesla and hope a representative gets back to you, Benoit said.
That's because Tesla no longer runs a certified pre-owned car program, as most other automakers do. It just keeps an inventory of used cars that are given a cursory inspection before being put on sale.
That leaves buying a car with a salvage title, or buying a car that (presumably) runs and drives from a private party. Which, in turn, means inspecting the car yourself—or having it inspected by a qualified shop.
2019 Tesla Model S
Panel gaps and misaligned trim are generally a bad sign but, Benoit pointed out, many Teslas come from the factory this way, so these defects are not the most important things to look for.
Instead, it's best to start by looking for cracks in the roof, as this can be very expensive to repair, and underneath for dents in the battery pack, Benoit said.
A long list of other items to look for, from groaning rear-hatch actuators to bubbles in the main touchscreen, are covered in the video as well.
It's also not a good idea to trust exterior badging, Benoit said. A seller could apply P100D badging to a Model X 75D, for example. Instrument cluster displays will always show what variant a car really is, Benoit said.
Similarly, Autopilot may not be transferable to a new owner. That feature is tied to the owner who purchased the car when new, and may be deactivated by Tesla when the car is sold.
As with used cars of any brand, a test drive is vital to check for any issues. If possible, that should include taking the car to a Supercharger station and recharging to 100%, Benoit said. This will indicate the level of battery degradation.
And if you're planning to put these tips into action, the Model 3 is currently the best used Tesla deal, according to Benoit.
Watch the video above or below, and then tell us: Would you buy a used Tesla? Have you? If so, please share your experiences and lessons!
The last time I bought a new car, it was almost a Tesla Model 3 — but here's why my next car will be a used Model S
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Last year, I had to buy a new car, in a rush. At the time, I was very much in the thrall of the Tesla Model 3 and seriously considered purchasing one. But for a variety of reasons, I ended up with a certified pre-owned Toyota RAV4 hybrid, and despite a few dents and dings, I've been quite happy (full disclosure: I already owned a CPO Toyota Prius).
With a pair of teenagers in my house, I'm probably looking at acquiring a few more sets of wheels in the coming years, and I've already made up my mind about what the next vehicle will be: an early Tesla Model S.
It's about time. I've covered Tesla since the years when the carmaker was barely selling any cars at all — just the original Roadster. Since then, I've sampled everything the company has produced, excluding the very new Model Y crossover.
And while the Roadster is my favorite and always will be, I'm a professional automotive journalist and don't need to actually own an impractical two-seater; I get to test at least half a dozen of them every year anyway. And over a decade ago, I possessed first-generation Mazda Miata and scratched that itch.
So it's going to be Model S, ideally a 2012 or 2013 iteration. Here's why:
The Model S was Tesla's first "clean sheet," designed-from-scratch, all-electric car. Here's the current version, which got a design update in 2016.
It was the first real styling upgrade since the vehicle's launch in 2012. The big change was the elimination of the "nose cone" on the front end, a sort of fake grille.
Here's what the nose cone looked like in action.
I am a nose-cone fan! I've gotten used to the "grille-less" new design and understand the logic: electric cars don't inhale air and don't need grilles. But I just think it looks better than the cone-less Model S.
The Model S made Tesla and CEO Elon Musk proud. It firmly established the then-tiny company as the premier manufacturer of luxury EVs.
Admittedly, my favorite Tesla remains the first one I ever drove: the original Roadster. But that car was impractical (if a lot of fun), and it wasn't all-Tesla, based as it was on a Lotus chassis.
Read about my drive in my favorite Tesla ever.
Of course, if I actually owned one, I could say that I drive an earthbound version of the only production car that's currently in orbit.
And a 2017 Toyota RAV4 hybrid.
BUT I'll be investing in some new wheels in the next few years and I've already made up my mind: It's Model S or bust!
You used should tesla buy
If you order a brand-new Tesla today, there's a good chance you won't get it for a long time. Perhaps you're thinking about buying a used Tesla instead? While that is probably the best idea, especially if you want a car quickly, there's a lot you need to know.
The automotive industry has been kind of a mess for over a year now. The COVID-19 pandemic stopped production for a time, so automakers have had to play catchup. This caused a boom in the used market, and prices have started to soar. Now that we're heading out of the worst of the pandemic, brands are working to crank out cars, but a global chip shortage has made that next to impossible.
Meanwhile, demand for Tesla's vehicles appears to be skyrocketing. In fact, the electric automaker has reportedly sold out all of its production for Q2, and it happened fairly early in the quarter. No matter which new Tesla you order today, you're likely looking at long delays. Tesla keeps raising its prices, too. This all means many Tesla shoppers are now hitting the used market.
Used Teslas tend to be priced high, and with the rising demand, as well as lack of new vehicles readily available, chances are they'll climb even more. In addition, used inventory stands to dwindle as this whole situation continues to unfold.
With all of that said, Ryan Shaw has put together a video to help used Tesla shoppers. He breaks down everything you need to know, along with what to look for as you shop for a used Tesla.
Check out the video and then start a conversation about this topic in our comment section below. Have you ever bought a used Tesla? Share your insight to help others in the community.
Why I Would Buy A Used Tesla Model 3 Instead Of A New One — Free Full Self Driving!
I came up with the idea for this article after I noticed that Tesla is enabling the $10,000 Full Self Driving (FSD) capability on every Model 3 that it is selling used. I spoke to a couple of salespeople and verified that is the case (note that it could change at any time) and that you can’t lower the price by having the option removed.
Since I think that is the one feature that I like most about Tesla, I thought I would write an article on how it would affect my buying process if I was buying a Model 3 (I’m actually going to be buying a Model Y soon, but it is unlikely I can get a used Model Y and apply this same “trick” unless I wait another year for my Model Y).
You will see research that claims that Tesla Model 3 has very low depreciation, like this article that showed only a 5.5% depreciation after a year. In an earlier article, we said the Model 3 is so good, hardly anyone wants to sell it. Those articles were in February 2020 and January 2019, respectively. This fresh new article makes the point that the Model 3 is still a great car, but that a bunch of people have sold or traded in their car, and in some cases, they are a great deal.
Advantages of Buying New
- The new console, chrome delete trim, heat pump, thicker glass, increased range, and power trunk.
- Full 4 year/50,000 warranty.
- No scratches or blemishes in the interior or exterior (or you can refuse delivery or ask they be fixed if there are).
- Might last a little longer or have a slightly higher resale value.
- It’s a new car! I don’t know how to describe that, but it has value to a lot of people (including me).
Advantages of Buying Used
Well, you could use this strategy to get a Tesla today, but you could alternatively use this and start with a $6,000 lower-end electric vehicle (EV) like a Nissan Leaf, $12,000 Chevy Bolt, or some other EV. But that isn’t the point of this article. The point of this video is to show you the power of the time value of money and how saving a little money now and having a great car (but not quite a super great car) can save you a lot of money and make a significant difference in your life.
In that video above, buying a used car instead of a new car meant the person could retire 40 years later with about $5.6 million. This strategy will work even better when you save a few hundred a month on fuel, maintenance, and reduced depreciation. The total cost of ownership on a $6,000 EV is incredibly low. The problem is a $6,000 EV will have a very low range (maybe 60 miles) and could make a great second car (that range is so low that it might not even meet your needs as a second car) but a poor first car for many people.
So, if you can wait, don’t buy the used Tesla I’m going to spend the rest of this article telling you is great — instead, start with a $6,000 Leaf and gradually work yourself up to a Tesla in a few years. Of course, the risk you are taking is that if Tesla gets true Full Self Driving (FSD) working before you get one, you may never be able to afford a Tesla vehicle — because the cars might go up in value since they will be highly sought after in order to produce income for their owners. Elon says they will get FSD working and approved by at least one government in 2021. Do you believe he can do it? (We have written extensively on Tesla’s Full Self Driving, including this most recent article on subscriptions coming soon!)
- It’s cheaper.
- Tesla is offering 1 year and 10,000 miles extra warranty (past the original 4 years/50,000 miles you get with the Model 3 when new). For a Model 3 that is a couple of years old with 30,000 miles on it, for example, you will have 3 years (2 years of the original warranty and 1 year extra) and 30,000 miles (20,000 of the original warranty and 10,000 extra) of bumper to bumper to bumper warranty, as well as 6 years and either 70,000 miles (Standard Range Plus) or 90,000 miles (Long Range or Performance) of powertrain warranty that covers the expensive battery and the not-so-expensive motors.
- If the car has a few blemishes, I don’t have to be so careful with the car, “baby” it, and not run it through an automatic car wash.
- Tesla is presently enabling the $10,000 Full Self Driving Capability in all its used Model 3 vehicles (as of December 2020)! They may or may continue that policy in the future. This is a big deal if you were planning on getting the FSD option. Further, at this time, you can’t get any reduction in price by asking Tesla to remove the FSD option from the car. So, if you have no interest in FSD, you could do better either buying a new Tesla or buying your used Tesla from someone other than Tesla — since individual owners will need to give you a lower price for a car without FSD than an equivalent car with FSD. That will be a good deal for some. Another possible deal is you may be able to buy a Model 3 with FSD enabled from a dealer that doesn’t understand what they have and misprices the car to be competitive with used Tesla Model 3 vehicles without Full Self Driving. The problem with this strategy is you likely have to spend a lot of time emailing and calling the dealers and get a picture of the car’s software screen, since very few dealers are knowledgeable enough to provide that in their listing, and if they made an error under-pricing a car with FSD, you’ll want to confirm that.
Image captured from https://ev-cpo.com/hunter/
If you do want a used Tesla without Full Self Driving, you can try using a regular car site like Car Gurus, but as I mentioned above, you will have a lot of trouble finding out what exactly you are getting because they waste a ton of space telling you about 100 options that are on the Tesla, such as power windows, that don’t give you any information at all (all Teslas have power windows) but frequently don’t tell you the software options that have been purchased.
I like the site onlyusedtesla, since owners and dealers who post there seem to be knowledgeable enough to tell you about the options that matter to Tesla buyers. Although you will find better prices (and you can negotiate them down from the asking price), you won’t get the extra year of warranty and it will have whatever level of Autopilot or Full Self Driving the previous owner purchased.
Image from cargurus.com
As you can see from the above image, you can find cars that are 42% off the new price out there (the vehicle in the picture did have an accident reported).
Image from Tesla.com
2021 Model 3 from Tesla Design Studio
I find the sweet spot for used Model 3 vehicles to be ones that are about 2½ years old and have about 10,000 to 30,000 miles on the odometer. This way, you will still have the car under warranty for 1½ years (if you buy it from anyone other than Tesla) or 2½ years if you buy it from Tesla. Also, you can get the long-range RWD model that is an excellent value that you can’t buy today. If you buy it from Tesla and you can find one in your area, you don’t have to pay a large shipping fee. Overall, you can save $16,000 and still have a high-quality car that should last you a long time.
Now, if you want the Standard Range Plus model and don’t care about FSD, I think you might as well buy new (or save a little on a demo), since the savings on those models are pretty small when buying used. One other factor to consider is you will generally pay a slightly higher interest rate on a used car loan (3.99%) than a new car loan (2.49%) — from Tesla or anyone else. This 1.5% higher rate (which is what Tesla charges) is equivalent to about $1,500 in purchase price on a $45,000 vehicle. Also, if you are going to sell the car in a few years, the resale value of 2021 will be significantly higher than the 2018 car. Since I tend to keep my cars for 10 years or so, the value of each of these cars will be about the same at the end of that period, so I would prefer the used Model 3 above to the new Model 3 above.
If you decide to order a New Tesla, use a friend’s referral code to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging on a Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3, or Model Y (you can’t use it on used vehicles or the Cybertruck yet). Now good for $100 off either solar panels or a solar roof, too! If you don’t have any friends with a Tesla, use mine: https://ts.la/paul92237
Disclosure: I am a shareholder in Tesla [TSLA], BYD [BYDDY], Nio [NIO], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But I offer no investment advice of any sort at any time or anywhere.
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Tesla, Tesla Model 3, used electric cars, used electric vehicles, used Tesla, used Tesla Model 3, used Teslas
I have been a software engineer for over 30 years, first developing EDI software, then developing data warehouse systems. Along the way, I've also had the chance to help start a software consulting firm and do portfolio management. In 2010, I took an interest in electric cars because gas was getting expensive. In 2015, I started reading CleanTechnica and took an interest in solar, mainly because it was a threat to my oil and gas investments. Follow me on Twitter @atj721 Tesla investor. Tesla referral code: https://ts.la/paul92237
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