Not everyone is in the market to buy a new car and buying a used car is their only option. Historically the next best thing to a New car would be buying a "certified pre owned" or CPO car. These are used cars sold by the manufacturer but with a degree of security only the manufacturer can give, in part due to the integrity of their reputation. Tesla, like many things, don't quite follow the same logic and are reluctant to call used cars sold by themselves as CPO and some claim they do not have a CPO programme. We beg to differ on the basis that Tesla do sell used cars, do warrant those cars, and do inspect the cars for various issues. What they don't do is make the cars like new. This guide helps explain both what they do, don't do and changes they may make to the car including the cars specification.
This guide is around the specifics of buying from Tesla, please see our guide to buying a used Tesla for more general advice on used cars.
Tesla don't just sell cars without checking they are roadworthy; this would be illegal in most countries. Tesla run what they call a 70-point mechanical and cosmetic inspection and list the following
Mechanical inspections include:
They offer no details on what qualifies as a cosmetic inspection and from pictures we have seen, the cosmetic standards are very relaxed to the point that cars have been offered for sale with chunks of seat fabric missing.
The problem with this approach is compounded by the inability to physically see the car before purchase, and even obtaining pictures before paying your deposit can be difficult. At best Tesla will send you a series of pictures highlighting what they consider to be material defects with the car. If they are cosmetic, they will not put them right nor agree to do so as part of any negotiation.
Tesla changed their used car warranty in Oct 2020 from the previously very generous 4 years/50k miles up to an overall maximum of 8 years/100k miles to a simple 1 yealr/10k mile extension over any existing warranty the car may still have from the factor. As an example, of the car still has 6 months of the new car warranty left, buying it as a used car from Tesla will extend it to 18 months. The same goes for mileage, if the car has 8k miles left, it will extend to 18k miles. The warranty will be the first of those two metrics to be reached. The 8 year battery and motor warranty remain unchanged.
For many, this warranty is worth having as Tesla's are susceptible to a number of issues especially as they get older.
It's been known for some time that cars delivered after April 2017 did not have transferable free supercharging, but prior to this date cars were thought to have lifetime free supercharging. Tesla have now started to remove that from used cars and no used car sold by Tesla will have unlimited free supercharging irrespective of the cars age.
In a similar manner, until recently all MS and MX had lifetime premium connectivity. Tesla have changed this for new cars and are retrospectively applying the same rules to used cars they sell. You can no longer buy a Tesla with premium connectivity and most will only offer a 30 day free trial.
The cars also have a number of software options, most notably Autopilot. Tesla can either take away or add Autopilot features as they so choose depending on their sales strategy. The most common change we see is Tesla removing EAP from cars that previously had it, changing them to only Autopilot which removes a number of features such as Summon.
Tesla make the changes to cars they sell directly AND to cars they put through auction. As a result cars bought at independent dealers may have the changes applied to the car.
Tesla sometimes take a while for the changes to be reflected in the actual car. This can make buying from a dealer especially hazardous as the car can appear to have features it does not have and will, in the fullness of time, be taken away.
Buying a used car from Tesla is not easy, you cannot physically see the car or have any high expectations on the quality of the car they are selling. They will also have reduced the specification of the car from that of the original owner with respect to EAP, free supercharging and/or premium connectivity, on the plus side the warranty is the best.
When buying away from Tesla, while there are benefits as most dealers will correct cosmetic issues or be prepared to negotiate over them, the specification downgrades may still apply if they purchased from Tesla via auction.