Worried about how to find a good deal on a used Tesla with current crazy car prices? By now, everyone has heard the media panic about the chip shortage and what it means for Tesla (and every other modern car manufacturer) during the great supply chain disruptions of 2020-2021. New car prices have gone up, EV makers are scrambling for supplies, and new car deliveries have slowed.
The biggest problem for buyers of used Teslas? Fewer new car purchases means fewer used cars on the market, especially pre-owned Teslas. While Tesla is weathering the supply chain mess far better than many other automakers, they are still feeling the crunch.
With delivery dates pushed back and new Tesla prices up, many owners plan on waiting out the shortage before selling off their used Tesla and buying their next car. In this scenario, the used Teslas that have made it to market command a very high price and are still selling like hotcakes. Used Model 3s in particular are flying off used car lots within “an average of only 16 days” according to the folks at Electrek.
Now isn’t the best time to be a car buyer, new or used, but we all know that’s not how car buying works. When it’s time, it’s time. The best time to buy a used Tesla is whenever you see one that meets your needs and your budget, right?
In this article, we’re here to help you to save money and navigate the current shortage with grace. Finding a used Tesla shouldn’t be a hassle, and we’ve rounded up a few tips for buying a used Tesla to meet your needs without breaking the bank.
Check Used Tesla Seller Listings Every Day
They say that the early bird gets the worm, but really it’s because the bird is on the lookout for what she wants at the same time each day. Similarly, you are most likely to get the best shot at a reasonably-priced used Tesla if you search listings daily. Finding a great deal on a used Tesla before someone else does involves a little luck and a lot of persistence. Make sure you get the persistent part right; unlike luck, that part of finding your next ride is all up to you!
On the flip side, while being able to constantly check for new listings thanks to the convenience of a smartphone is awesome, the reality is that the best deal may not come up for a little while.
Be patient and remember to guard your time to avoid burning out on your buyer search. Setting a reminder to check Tesla listings once a day instead of obsessing over newly-added listings can help keep you from wasting time and from possibly jumping on a deal that really isn’t for you just because you are tired of looking.
Be Flexible about Tesla Options and Features
We all know that we want what we want when we want it. And when you are ready to shell out your hard-earned cash for a Tesla, it’s entirely reasonable to have non-negotiable options that you’re after.
However, keeping your focus too narrow can hurt your chances of scoring a great deal on a used Tesla. Does your ideal used Model X absolutely have to come with transferable Full Self-Driving (FSD), or is Tesla’s FSD capability subscription an option? Is a used Model Y with a black interior really a make or break for you, or would you take white if the interior was pristine?
Making a few lists may help you decide on which Tesla options or features are your must-haves and where you might have some flexibility:
- List options, and features that you consider indispensable and do a little research into what they’re worth. Try to rank them on a scale of importance to see which might actually be closer to a negotiation point for you.
- List things you’d like to have but would be able to pass on if the price was right. Price these out, too, just so you know where you stand. Again, give everything a quick ranking.
Keeping these lists handy when you’re looking through listings will help keep you focused on what you really want.
Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
At the moment, one of the main disadvantages for used Tesla buyers is that sellers don’t have a shortage of inquiries about their Teslas. That said, you still have some pricing leverage if you’ve already done your financial homework and are ready to buy. Remember, sellers typically want their Tesla to sell quickly, and most should be willing to be a little flexible on the price if you can demonstrate that you’re serious.
Points that are typically more up for negotiation can be:
The Tesla’s Interior or Exterior Condition
Evidence of wear and tear on the car’s exterior or interior can be a reasonable point of negotiation. Cosmetic value tends to be somewhat subjective, and the seller may be willing to negotiate a price based on your assessment of the vehicle.
Model-Specific Potential for Repairs
Aside from the usual paint chips and body dings, do your research on common model-specific repairs. For instance, the Model X falcon-wing doors can be problematic; while iconic, they have occasionally suffered some mechanical issues or sealing problems. If you want to buy a used Model X, the falcon-wing doors should always be examined. Likewise, if you want to buy a used Model S, check the door handles to see if they fully extend or retract. While replacing the handles is possible, it will run you several hundred dollars per handle plus labor.
The possibility of model-specific repairs or, if you’ve examined or have a mechanic’s report on the car, the known presence of maintenance problems should be something you can discuss with the seller.
Valuing Tesla Software and Features
Premium Connectivity, Full Self-Driving, Enhanced Autopilot, or Transferable Free Unlimited Supercharging are all worth something, but that worth is a bit subjective. For instance, if you travel a lot, you might value the perk of Free Unlimited Supercharging much more than if you are a commuter who finds it most convenient to charge at home.
Similarly, Full Self-Driving may be the well-known cool factor your seller didn’t want to live without, but maybe it’s not as important to you. You should be able to have a productive conversation with sellers about the relative value of perks and software.
Temperature, Charging Habits, and Age: The Keys to Tesla Battery Life
Older Teslas and Teslas that have seen extreme climates like the burning deserts of Arizona both tend to have the same problem: a potential reduction in battery capacity. Coupled with poor driving habits, these key factors in the battery life of a Tesla cause a loss of range, which is obviously a pretty big deal for EVs. Talking to the seller about their driving conditions, charging habits, and age-related battery degradation could help you better understand the condition of the car and whether you might be able to talk the price down a little.
Find out if the Tesla you are interested in has any active warranties. You should be able to discuss a lower price with the seller if their used Tesla has little or no time left on one of its warranty areas. You can check out our Ultimate Guide to Tesla Warranty Coverage for more information.
Teslas are notoriously hard on their tires (these cars are heavy), and a used Tesla may have demonstrated its incredible acceleration time to new passengers many, many times (we won’t lie, their responses are pretty fun). Tire replacement isn’t going to be the worst financial issue you’ll have with a used Tesla, but the tire replacement factor may provide a small area of wiggle room on a final selling price.
Finally, be sure to speak respectfully with sellers about the value of these areas to see if you can come to a reasonable compromise on price. Even if you’ve done your homework and know exactly what these negotiation points are worth to you, don’t use this information to dominate the conversation with the seller you are contacting. Nobody likes to deal with a know-it-all.
Respect the Seller’s Time
The best way to keep up a good negotiation with a used Tesla seller is through respectful communication. Prompt responses and simple communications are a must. If you ask a question and the seller provides you with an answer, make sure to follow up in a reasonable time frame. If you schedule an in-person look at the car, make sure you are at the appointed place on time.
In other words, don’t waste a seller’s time with a billion questions about their Tesla if you aren’t ready to buy right away; try to honor a seller’s time and energy. After all, until the sale is finalized on paper, they don’t owe you their time or their Tesla, just like you don’t owe them your money.
The Best Way to Buy a Used Tesla: Find My Electric
Save time and sanity by checking used Tesla listings on Find My Electric. We’ve made it easy to search for your top Tesla options and features in our Ultimate Tesla Marketplace.
Our filters are easy to navigate and cover all the bases. Most interested in a used Tesla’s Mileage, Seller Location, Autopilot Software and Hardware, or Aftermarket Mods? We’ve got it covered!
And, of course, you can use the sorting feature to rank used Tesla listings by seller asking price.
Whether you are looking to buy a used Model Y, Model X, Model 3, Model S, or even a Roadster, sellers are listing them on Find My Electric daily. Check out our listings to start your search today, and be sure to check back often to find the best deal on your next ride!