What to Consider When Buying a Used EV

These are the most important things to look for when shopping.

A family sits in the hatchback of their blue electric SUV
Find the right vehicle for you.
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If you’ve been in the market for an electric vehicle (EV) lately, you may have noticed the significant discounts available when purchasing used instead of new. A Recurrent market report finds that a little over half a million used EVs will be sold in 2024. Here’s what you need to know if you're shopping for a used EV. 

Benefits of Buying a Used EV

  • You’ll get a great deal compared to buying the same electric car new. Buying used has always been a great way to save money. As with gas-powered cars, the savings may be significant due to the rapid depreciation that occurs immediately after the car is purchased by the original owner. 
  • EV tax credits are no longer limited to new cars. Used electric vehicles purchased from a dealership may also be eligible.
  • State-specific rebates, tax credits, and incentives include being allowed to drive in carpool lanes in Arizona no matter how many occupants, up to $500 in rebates when installing a level 2 charger in California, and not having to pay sales tax on a used EV bought for up to $16,000 in Washington. See if your state, county, or utility offers any incentives or rebates before you buy.
  • No more oil changes. Electric vehicles require far less preventive maintenance than internal combustion engine (ICE) and hybrid vehicles.

Drawbacks to Buying a Used EV

  • The technology in a used EV may be outdated compared to new models. “With a gas car, you can count on most things outside of active safety features to be more or less the same,” says Benjamin Preston, Consumer Reports autos writer. “An older EV may be a dinosaur compared with a new model” when it comes to charging capabilities, range, and battery technology.
  • It may be harder to resell than an ICE or Hybrid car. Technological advances, battery degradation, and many buyers’ interest in buying a new EVs may make it harder to sell the EV you buy to its third owner. This may change as the market evolves, but it’s an important consideration at this time. 
  • Your mechanic might not be able to fix the EV. Repair shops tend to shy away from maintaining electric vehicles, so you might need to look for a new shop that specializes in EV repairs or take the car to the dealership for service.
A family packs their Tesla for a road trip.
Make sure the EV fits your lifestyle.
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Other Things to Consider

Your Needs and Lifestyle

Buying any car requires you to evaluate your driving habits, needs, and lifestyle, but it's especially important with an EV. You’ll want to consider how many miles you drive per day, how often you take road trips, and how often you can realistically charge at home or on the go. Electric vehicles require a bit more thoughtful planning, but it’s perfectly doable for most car owners, who average 32 to 41 miles per day, which is well below the average 234 miles range of 2021 EVs

Mechanic’s Inspection Report

It’s critical to have the electric vehicle you’re considering buying checked by a mechanic that specializes in EVs or the dealership to ensure it’s truly in the advertised condition. This is true for all cars, but the technological complexities of electric vehicles make this an even more critical step. Inspect the car before spending the money on a mechanic by checking body panels for damage, tire wear, vehicle history, and anything else you can confidently do on your own. 

Battery Health

Battery health is a critical consideration when buying a used EV because that can significantly impact the range on a full charge. How you check the battery health varies from vehicle to vehicle, but most have a visual display. “A Nissan Leaf, for example, has a bar graph that will tell you how much life the battery has left. A Tesla, on the other hand, needs a lengthy diagnostic process that's probably not practical for most buyers,” says Preston. “Your best bet is to find a well-regarded EV specialist and have the car checked out before you commit to buying it.”

Charging Capabilities

If you’ll be regularly charging your vehicle outside of your home, consider the charging capabilities and whether there are electric chargers in the areas you’ll be visiting that can accommodate that connector. Find out how fast the vehicle can charge on a level one or level two charger. It’s also worth noting if the make and model will be able to use the Tesla Supercharger network in the future.

A woman plugs in her yellow EV to charge.
Consider nearby charging infrastructure and the cost of a home charger before buying.
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Charging Accessories

Be sure to confirm with the seller or dealership whether the used EV will come with the charging accessories that are stock with the vehicle and any other adapters that may have been purchased, and visually confirm that you’ve received them when taking ownership of the vehicle. 

How Much Warranty Remains

“Most manufacturers include an 8-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty that includes the main propulsion battery,” says Preston. Consider the age and mileage of the car you’re purchasing and evaluate how much warranty remains when you buy.

Cost of a Home Charger 

Chargers average between $300 and $700, and installation could be up to $1,300, which doesn’t account for any upgrades that might be needed to your electrical panel or wiring to install the charger. “Most EV owners will want to charge at home, at night,” says Preston. “So if you live in an apartment complex with no or limited chargers or have to park the car on the street, an EV probably won't be your best option.”