How to Shop for a Used EV

How to Shop for a Used EV

If you’re looking for a used EV, what you need to look for might be much different from when you drive a gasoline-powered car.

We’ve had electric vehicles in the market long enough that some offered have now hit the used market. When looking at pre-owned cars, the difference you’ll find includes variations in pricing, warranties, and the functions of the vehicle you’ll want to drive. Let’s look at some of what you need to know when looking for an electric car with at least one other owner.

You Should find a Great Price.

The market of pre-owned electric vehicles is a buyers’ market and benefits you as the person looking for the following EV to drive. There are a few reasons for the incredible deprecation of models in the pre-owned electric vehicle market. An example given by showed the purchase of a new 2011 Nissan Leaf SL for $35,665. This car was sold 19 months later for $19,000 with only 11,000 miles on the odometer. This was the best price offered, and it represents a 47% depreciation, which is insane for a less than a two-year-old car.

Why are the prices dropping so rapidly for used EV models? The first factor is the federal tax credit, which is not transferrable and is immediately accounted for. This might sound unfair for used Tesla and GM models because those brands no longer benefit from these incentives, but $7,500 comes off right away. This tax credit isn’t the only factor causing many pre-owned EVs to drop in price so rapidly.

Consumers Understand Development

Much of the hesitancy to purchase a pre-owned electric vehicle is that newer models have batteries that offer drivers longer ranges. Older versions showed up with driving ranges that are much lower than more recent vehicles. The driving range of a car is often a factor many consumers look for in their EV, regardless of whether or not they need it.

In reality, most of us never drive more than 100 miles per day, but if you have a long commute, take frequent road trips, or want to avoid stopping too often when driving your used EV across the country, longer driving ranges make sense.

If you’re shopping for a pre-owned electric vehicle, you should find some highly affordable prices for the model you want to drive.

Battery Death is Rare, but Range Reduction is Possible

Electric car batteries rarely ever die, but they can lose some capacity. The region you live in and where a vehicle has matters and impacts the battery pack’s ability. If you live in an area with regularly fluctuating temperatures, the range will drop in the used EV you want to drive. On the other hand, if you live in a region where temperatures are mild, the content is more likely to remain at the same level as when the car was new.

Beware the Desert Car

Electric vehicles are much more susceptible to temperature issues in depleted driving range than gas-powered cars are to rust. The old advice told us that a car that spent its life in a desert climate was the best to buy, but that’s no longer the case. The desert climate allowed cars to avoid rain, road salt, and sea air, leading to rust. Today’s cars are more rust-resistant than ever before, making the desert a disadvantage, especially if you’re looking for a pre-owned electric vehicle.

The Batteries Need to be Used

We’ve been taught to look for low miles on the odometer when purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, but that might not be the best advice for an EV. You want a car regularly driving because the batteries need to be routinely used to last a long time. This means regular charging and driving o the vehicle. If an EV sits unused for long periods, the batteries can deteriorate, and your driving range will suffer. Because electric cars are still relatively new, we still don’t know the full impact of EVs that sit unused.

You Still Need an Inspection

One of the most significant selling points of an electric vehicle is that it has fewer moving parts and requires less maintenance than gasoline-powered vehicles. You’ll still want to have a potential used EV inspected by a qualified mechanic even with this fact. This is a worthwhile activity that will give you the information needed to understand what’s wrong with the vehicle and the items you might have issues with down the road.

Manufacturers are Still Figuring Out the Warranty Issue

Newer electric vehicles offer powertrain warranties that last at least eight years and 100,000 miles. This coverage is transferable, which is great, but older electric cars aren’t provided with the same warranty as new models. You can find the original warranty terms using a VIN decoder and understand what coverage is still offered for that particular model. The fact that warranties are in flux makes it hard to understand the scope that might still be intact for the used EV you want to drive.

As the Second Owner, You Might Not Get the Free Charging

Some models have free DC fast charging at various Electrify America stations, but that benefit isn’t transferrable. This could be a serious sticking point because you’ll have to pay for all charging needed for the used EV that you want to buy. The free charging is not transferrable, but the connectivity also offered in some EVs isn’t either. As the new owner, you’ll likely have to pay for a subscription to some of the apps and features you want to use.

If You Buy Used, You’ll Likely Keep it Forever.

You can find an incredible price for a pre-owned electric vehicle that offers you the driving range you want and the benefits of having a car that doesn’t need any gasoline. As the second owner of an older EV with a limited driving range, you’ll likely need to keep the vehicle until it no longer works. If you were to try and sell it again in the used EV market, you probably wouldn’t get the price you want. When you’re ready to buy your pre-owned electric vehicle, keep this in mind.

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning a commission is given should you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All products shown are researched and tested to give an accurate review for you.

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