A Tesla is an eco-friendly car that continues to grow in popularity. In addition to self-driving options, the electric vehicle brand is known for its reliability, impressive battery range, and fast acceleration. You can own a used Tesla Model Y with the latest over-the-air software updates. But if more space at a good price is your priority, buying a used Tesla Model X can make financial sense. And since these cars are built to last, you’ll get plenty of miles from a used Tesla. 

In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of what you need to know when shopping for a pre-owned Tesla. These are the steps we recommend following:

Research Your Options

The first step is to know the Tesla model most suited for you. When doing your research, consider:

  • Size: The Tesla Model 3 is a compact car, while the Model Y is an SUV based on the same design ( comparable in size to the Audi Q5). Tesla also makes a hatchback, the Model S, and an SUV version, the Model X , similar to the Audi Q8 in size.
  • Range: Both the Model X and Model Y SUVs have a 330-mile range. Model S units built before 2021 can travel as much as 393 miles on a full charge. Even a Tesla that’s several years old can have an impressive range, so don’t shy away from older model years if battery range is a concern.
  • Speed: The Model S Plaid can accelerate from 0-60 in under two seconds. That outpaces a Ferrari! But you’ll get great acceleration from a Model Y; the base 2020 model achieves 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, while a Performance trim cuts this to 3.7 seconds.

Once you know what you’re looking for, you can shop from a dealer or private seller. Your best odds of finding a used Tesla in great condition is to buy from a dealer. Most dealerships have tight mechanical and cosmetic standards for any car they sell (and have different vehicles and options to explore). You can also get a maintenance plan and warranty coverage. 

Buying from a private seller can be beneficial if you negotiate a good price and ensure the car is in good condition and under the original warranty. But a dealer will provide seamless access to vehicle history data and can help service the car if any issues arise.

Inspect a Used Tesla

Get a good look at the exterior and interior of the vehicle. Make sure there are no deep scratches on surfaces, no cracks in the windshield, and that the doors, hood, and truck open and close securely. Check the tire treads by inserting a penny upside down; the treads should partially cover Lincoln’s head. If not, the tire is worn and must be replaced.

Also, check that the key fobs, front and rear lights, and windshield wipers work. If you’re evaluating a used Model Y Tesla, check the rear seat alignment. Look at the vehicle’s electronics as well. Functions to check include the touchscreen (especially in a used Model X Tesla), AC/heat, rear backup camera, speakers, and interior lights.

There are various ways to test the battery. But during your test drive, the easiest way is to use the touchscreen console and check the information shown in Service Mode. You can also perform a health test which may take some time. Your dealer should evaluate the battery and provide you with the latest information. And as with any car, get a feel for the vehicle’s comfort, power, acceleration, handling, and electronics during your test drive.

Financing a Used Tesla

The best ways to finance a used Tesla include securing an auto loan or leasing the vehicle. At Hawthorne Auto Square, we’re a buy here, pay here dealership. We’ll value your trade-in and approve you for financing in minutes. Your credit does not affect our decision. We’ll quickly get you approved for low-APR financing and give you up to five months to build a down payment. 

Plus, there’s always room to negotiate with a private seller or dealer. You can suggest a lower asking price based on the presence of wear or damage and your knowledge of the car’s market value (including its Edmunds True Market Value). Approach the salesperson with the numbers you find and:

  • Be patient
  • Plan to spend a few hours at the dealership
  • Ask for the out-the-door price
  • Ask about interest rates, financing, and warranty limits
  • Take a test drive

Registering and Insuring a Used Tesla

The registration for a used Tesla is handled by Tesla. You’ll receive a temporary registration placard authorizing you to operate the vehicle. Your local Department of Motor Vehicles will then mail you a title and registration card.

Teslas have high repair and maintenance costs, so they are relatively expensive to insure. To find the most affordable insurance coverage, shop around with different insurance companies. You can usually get free quotes online. Always read the fine print about the policy you’re considering. Compare collision, medical payments, and underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. Comprehensive coverage can cover the cost of damage from non-accident-related causes. If you purchase gap coverage, it will pay the difference between the loan amount you owe and the vehicle’s value at the time of an accident.

Maintenance and Repair

When buying any used car, ownership cost go beyond the initial sale price, title and registration costs, and insurance. Maintenance and repair costs will factor into your budget. 

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average maintenance cost of a Tesla Model 3 is $623 per year.1 Common repairs for Tesla cars are more expensive than for most brands. You’ll need routine brake and tire maintenance. However, regenerative braking reduces brake maintenance needs, as resistance from the maintenance-free electric motor reduces reliance on brake pads.

Hawthorne Auto Square provides a 6-month comprehensive warranty on every car in our lot. Each has been thoroughly inspected. While Tesla vehicles are unique, an auto mechanic can provide most routine services. They can help install new tires or patch, balance, and align them. Tire rotation, flat repair, and tire inflation work the same way as any other vehicle. A mechanic can also change the air filter (recommended every 2 or 3 years, depending on the vehicle) and repair control arm components.

Final Thoughts on Buying a Used Tesla

Tesla has some of the most advanced electric cars on the market. Buying a used one saves money and allows you to benefit from the latest features. You have a choice of sizes and battery range, and acceleration is impressive on all models. Our tips will help you find a Tesla that meets your wants and needs. Knowing what you’re looking for and how to approach the process will help your more quickly find a reliable used Tesla.

Visit Hawthorne Auto Square 

We’re a Los Angeles buy here, pay here used car dealership. Whether you’re in the market for a used Tesla Model X, a used Tesla Model Y, or another used Tesla, our team can help. Financing is available regardless of your credit and we can get you approved in minutes. To learn more about your financing options, inquire about our service and maintenance plan, and find a high-quality used Tesla, visit us in person or call (866) 707-7664 today.