In today’s volatile vehicle market and with the global economy in an uncomfortable place, many people are skipping the new Tesla configurator and looking for used Teslas to fit their needs. But how do we know whether or not buying a used Tesla is worth it? You may even be thinking something like “Should I buy a used Tesla?” It that’s the case—don’t worry, we’re here to help!
We’re no strangers to this question (honestly, we hear it all the time), so we’d like to use today’s post to talk you through the issues involved in buying a used Tesla. By comparing prices, production times, EV tax credits, Full Self-Driving Software, Supercharging costs, battery life, and warranty issues, we hope we can help you come to a solid conclusion on your own about whether buying a used Tesla is worth it (spoiler alert: in general, we’d say it absolutely is!).
Buying a Used Tesla—New vs Used Prices
To start out our discussion on new vs used Teslas, let’s compare prices on the four models Tesla is currently producing: Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y.
Note: Just to be clear, while you can also find some used original Tesla Roadsters on the market, we’re not going to include them in this discussion.
A brand-new Model S, straight from the configurator, starts at about $94,990 (or $114,990 for the Model S Plaid) and options all the way up to $118,990 ($138,990 for the Plaid).
Used Tesla Model S prices fall anywhere from $30,000 – $140,000, depending on the year and build. Since the Model S is the earliest manufactured car in Tesla’s production line, you can also find them for the lowest price, but they will also have some of Tesla’s earliest battery packs. In many cases, these older Tesla’s come with some pretty high mileage.
In general, you can find recent years (2020, 2021, 2022) of the Model S with recent tech and low mileage on the used market for under $100,000 (with some in the $75,000 to $85,000 range). With the recent price cuts, we expect these numbers to drop for the remainder of 2023, so you may soon be able to commonly find a used Model S for $5,000-$10,000 lower than they were at the beginning of the year (a good reason to check listings frequently!). If we base the new vs used decision on price alone, we think that it makes a lot of sense to consider a used Model S over a new one.
The Tesla Model X currently sells for a base price of $109,990 and options up to $141,490. For the Model X Plaid, pricing begins at $119,990 and options all the way up to $144,590.
A used Model X still goes for $48,000-$135,000. This variance is relatively wide since the Model X has also been out for quite a few model years. Current used prices for a Model X average about $90,000-$110,000 for recent model years (2020-2022). However, with Tesla’s recent pricing change and sellers of used Tesla’s scrambling to adjust their selling prices to compete, we expect to see these used prices fall significantly over the next few months.
With upcoming used prices in mind, you may save $10,000 or more by going with a used Model X over a new Model X. Older Model X vehicles have additional value thanks to the potential for FSD and transferable free supercharging (but we’ll get to those later).
A new Tesla Model 3 Standard Range (RWD) starts at $43,990 and options up to $63,490. Minimum and maximum prices for the Model 3 Performance are $53,990 and $71,990, respectively.
The new Model 3 Long Range is not an available option in the configurator at the time of writing, but a limited number 2023 Model 3 Long Range are scheduled to be in stock, with an average price of $52,490.
How much is a used Tesla Model 3? Used Model 3s can be found for $32,000-$67,000, with an average price of $40,000-$50,000 for the newer model years (2020-2022). While it seems like not nearly enough of a price break for used vs new Teslas, the good news is that these prices are changing. Check out our articles on why EV prices are actually falling and why used Tesla prices are dropping to find out more.
The 2023 Model Y Long Range starts at $52,990 and options up to $77,990. For the 2023 Model Y Performance, prices start at $56,990 and option up to $75,990.
A used Model Y typically goes from $40,000 to $69,000, with the average price of a newer Model Y (2020-2022) around $60,000. Considering the fact that the Model Y has only been out for those years, prices aren’t as affected by age and warranty considerations and have stayed relatively high (however, that may soon change; see the pricing discussion on the Model 3 above).
That’s a wrap on new and used Tesla pricing! One more thing: don’t forget to factor in the destination fee of $1,390 that Tesla charges for all new Tesla deliveries!
New Tesla Production Times & Used Tesla Availability—How It Impacts Buying
Another factor in the discussion about new vs used Teslas is availability: when can you get a new or used Tesla? This part of the discussion is particularly important if you are in need of a vehicle right now or would have to sell your current car at about the same time in order to purchase a Tesla.
We’ll start by looking at the current lead times for new Teslas:
Production time for the base Model S and for the Model S Plaid is 1-3 months. This isn’t as crazy a timeframe as in previous years, but it’s still a variable number given current global shortages in the manufacturing industry.
The current production prediction for the base Model X is relatively long compared to other Teslas, anywhere from March-June of 2023, a moderate 3-6 month lead time from the time this article was written.
However, if you are looking at the Plaid instead of the base Model X, you’re in luck. The current wait on the Model X Plaid is only 1-2 months.
The Model 3 is currently available in the next 1-2 months for the RWD version and for the Model 3 Performance. The Model 3 Long Range isn’t available in the configurator, but Tesla does have a very limited supply of 2023 Model 3 Long Range EVs available in their current inventory.
This is a recent change and a welcome one. Faster production time means buyers can have more confidence that their car will be available when they need it. However, quick Model 3 production times have a secondary effect: since they are in lower demand, used Model 3 are dropping in price. It’s a great time to be looking for a Model 3, new or used!
The Model Y Performance currently has a short delivery estimate; you may be able to get one within 1-2 months. The delivery estimate for the Model Y Long Range is only slightly longer, from 1-3 months.
When Will the Tesla Cybertruck Be Available?
Tesla’s long-awaited EV pickup, the Cybertruck, is currently set for production in the middle of 2023 (though rumors say it’s nearly ready). Obviously, you won’t be able to find a used Tesla Cybertruck until after they start delivery.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Used Tesla?
While a new Tesla might be available in the timeframe that Tesla quotes on their website, this timeframe can also change unexpectedly. A delay in production can leave you without a Tesla at a crucial moment. Just ask YouTube’s Ryan Shaw, who ordered a new Tesla and found himself borrowing his partner’s car when Tesla changed the estimated delivery date (Ryan also has some good insight on why buying a used 2018 Model 3 to stand in the gap was a great decision).
When you buy a used Tesla, you’re obviously buying something that already exists and won’t get caught in a production backlog. Some used Teslas can be obtained in under two weeks (sometimes down to a few days) even with all the paperwork, especially if the seller has done their homework and is ready to sign over the title right away.
Interested in seeing out what’s available on the used Tesla market right now? Check out our used Tesla listings to get started! But if you aren’t quite convinced, let’s keep the ball rolling with another factor in our new vs used discussion: EV tax credits.
Buying Used vs. New—Which EV Tax Credits Can Teslas Get?
Good news for new Tesla buyers in 2023: the EV tax credit incentive is back, at least for some models. The Model Y Long Range, Model 3 Standard Range, and Model 3 Performance should all be eligible for a credit of up to $7,500 in 2023.
The Model S, Model X, and the Model Y Performance (though this may change depending on whether the IRS classification of the Model Y as a car or SUV changes) are not currently eligible for next year’s EV Credit.
Can you get a tax credit when you buy a used Tesla? Currently, the used EV credit for federal taxes has a very low purchase price requirement that would exclude most used Teslas, but there are some regions and States that offer a credit for used EV purchases.
EAP/FSD Value for Purchasing Used Teslas
This is a complicated subject, but it’s a major one for tech-minded buyers who are comparing new vs used Teslas. Adding Full Self-Driving (FSD) to the purchase of a new Tesla currently costs $15,000 (Enhanced Autopilot, or EAP, has fewer features and is currently available for $6,000). According to Elon, this number is just going to keep increasing over time.
In the past, Teslas with FSD capability could purchase it for far less, starting at $3,000 and going up from there. If you are really interested in getting a Tesla with FSD for a deep discount, a used Tesla with FSD included is a great way to get there and could possibly save you thousands. The tradeoff is that the best deals will also likely be some of the oldest models (that still have the hardware for FSD).
See our earlier blog post for an in-depth discussion on how much FSD is worth on a used Tesla.
Supercharging—How Much Does It Cost?
Energy costs and energy usage are hot topics right now, and buying a new Tesla includes buying into the idea that electricity will be cheaper (and cleaner) in the long run. This is even a loud selling point for Tesla, and they include “potential savings” over 6 years of gas right in their new car configurator.
However, there’s no such thing as a free charge. When you buy a new Tesla, you are committed to charging at home or heading to the local Supercharger where you still have to pay the bill. Current average energy prices are averaging around $0.15-$0.16 per kWh, and it costs between $5 and $20 a day to charge a Tesla at home (this varies quite widely depending on how much you drain the battery each day, and where you live), and about $15-$20 to get a full charge from 20% at the supercharger (on average, as Tesla’s differing battery pack sizes complicate the numbers).
Why does this matter on new versus used Teslas? Because there is such a thing as Free Unlimited Supercharging! This perk of used Teslas generally only applies to Model S and Model X ordered by 1/15/2017 and delivered before 4/15/2017, and even in this group there can be exceptions. For more information, see our post on transferable Free Supercharging for used Teslas.
How much money can Free Unlimited Supercharging actually save you? Even if you only used the Supercharger on a few road trips, this perk could potentially save you hundreds of dollars per year, possibly thousands if it’s your daily mode of charging, though constant Supercharging will likely affect your Tesla’s battery.
Speaking of batteries, we’ll take the next section to talk about one of the loudest arguments against buying a used Tesla: whether or not the battery on a used Tesla will last.
Battery Life on New vs Used Teslas
The question of how long a Tesla battery lasts is the big one for many people looking at used Teslas. It’s a fair question, since a full battery replacement would be the largest repair expense a Tesla could have.
We cover this topic in depth in our post on how long a Tesla battery lasts, but here’s the short version:
- Model S and Model S data suggests that the majority of vehicles can reach 500,000 miles before battery degradation reaches 20% (a threshold for convenient usability)
- Model 3 and Model Y data suggest a 20% threshold at closer to 400,000 miles
- The earlier Model S battery packs (2012-2015) have variations that may affect their reliability, but that’s not universal in these vehicles
- You should always ask a few questions about charging habits, driving/storage climate, and current battery retention when looking at a used Tesla.
In summary, the battery life of a used Tesla doesn’t tend to rapidly degrade over time. Even some of the earlier models still have over 80% battery life. So, if your main question is “are used Teslas reliable,” we think the data speaks for itself. While the media does pick up an occasional horror story about replacing the battery, these instances are surprisingly rare given the number of Teslas out on the road.
We strongly suggest you keep the battery condition on your pros and cons list when you are looking at buying a used Tesla (it’s just common sense). However, the idea that you should only buy a new Tesla because of potential battery degradation isn’t supported by the data we’ve seen on used Teslas so far.
New and Used Tesla Warranty Issues
Last but certain not least, is it worth buying a used Tesla out of warranty? Most out of warranty Teslas are going to be the Model S and Model X. The earlier years of the Model S and Model X have outlasted their warranty terms.
Why is this important for our new vs used Tesla discussion? Simply put, if a part fails, it’s always nice to know that it will be covered by the manufacturer. Particularly when it comes to used Teslas from the earlier years when Tesla was just starting out, warranty issues can and have cropped up from time to time.
The biggest area of concern for most people is the Battery and Drive Unit Warranty, which covers a Tesla’s battery and motor components for 8 years or from 100,000 to 150,000 miles in most cases. Just as important is the 70% battery capacity retention clause, although from the data we discussed earlier in this article, this number won’t be reached within normal operation.
Newer model years of used Teslas will generally still have warranty time left, and that isn’t something you should ignore when considering the price. Warranty is a complicated subject, so be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Tesla Warranty Coverage for more information warranties that apply to new or used Teslas.
It’s very much up to buyers to determine how much these warranty are worth to them. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that warranty coverage should be a heavily considered factor when you are considering buying a used Tesla over a new one.
Where Can You Buy a Used Tesla?
Since we’ve been chatting about it this long, by this time you probably know that, yes, you definitely can buy a used Tesla. And in our opinion, the answer is—yes, you should buy a used Tesla.
We mentioned at the beginning that we think buying a used Tesla is worth it, and we believe that so strongly that we started a used Tesla website (yep, it’s this one).
Since you’re here, you’re already in the right place if you’re looking for the best deals (and the best experience) in buying a used Tesla. We’ve got everything from the earliest Model S to the most recent Model 3 in our listings section, and used Tesla listings are being added every day.
Be sure to compare current prices with sold listings, and don’t hesitate to search for Free Unlimited Supercharging or filter for FSD! Our system is designed to help you easily filter for and select the options that you consider the most important factors in your used Tesla search.
Find My Electric is the #1 used Tesla and EV site, so check out our used Tesla listings and see what’s available near you right now!