Buying a used Tesla

Tesla have been selling cars for a number of years now and there is a steadily growing used car market. The earliest cars are now starting to fall outside warranty based on time, and not just mileage although the battery and drive train is still covered on the MS.

Buying used from Tesla is an option and they will reset the 4 year/50k mile warranty if the car is under 4 years and 50k miles, although Tesla are themselves not overly enthusiastic over selling used cars. Their inventory counts are low and their part ex prices such that most sellers try and sell privately.

Buying used from a non Tesla dealer requires you to do your home work as many dealers simply do not understand the cars and options. We've been tracking the used car market in the UK for a number of years and the adverts are sometimes so wrong its a worry. Common things to look out for are: stated options are actually on the car, confused and mismatched descriptions such as 21" wheels with 19" tyres, and the inclusion of unlimited super charging on cars registered after March 2017 where its not transferable. You also need to be careful about the quoted range of the cars, and the stated performance. I have seen 75Ds advertised with P100D performance stats which just is not true.

What options does the car have?

We've created an easy way for you to find out what options a car has, so long as the seller has the log in details for the car/the car is linked to their Mytesla account. Simply get them to go to this page, and either login using their Tesla credentials or their Tesla token and we'll list all the options the car has:

tesla-info.com/carinfo.html

Which model?

Tesla currently have 3 used models available to buy in the UK. We list each car and give you some basic details and how they've changed:

Model S

Ignoring the Roadster, the Model S is the first production Tesla to reach any production volumes. The car has gone through many updates, tweaks, enhancements and problems since its inception and a car you order today will be considerably different to the early cars. The design is similar, but items such as batteries, autopilot hardware, quality of trim, even tyre sizes have changed over time, and sometimes changed back. This guide is based on the versions since AP was introduced so just check if you're buying a used car that it has anything that's important to you.

Exterior

The exterior looks have remained pretty much unchanged since introduction with just one major Facelift

This happened in late 2016 and the change is noticeable from the front. There were a few other changes that came with it, painted sills, new headlights, a biograde hepa filter (if premium pack was also selected) and other largely cosmetic stuff. Whether its worth holding out for the face lift car is personal choice, it looks fresher and is more in keeping with the Model X and model 3.

Interior

While the basic interior has changed little, the introduction of the next gen seats in 2015 gave a lot more lateral support to drivers although the rear is still pretty much a bench. There were a few P85D cars delivered with a more profiled rear seat but these seats didn't fold very flat. All cars since mid 2017 come with another version of seats which are more like the next generation seats but with a few tweaks. The material is pretty varied too, there have been various leather, fake leather, "vegan" and cloth seats over the years.

The various cabin components have all been tweaked over time to give a better finish, there is now a centre console (introduced during 2016) and rear cup holders, but it's no premium German car although some like its more minimalist styling. The rear is great and 3 can sit comfortably in the back. It's also available as a 7 seater with 2 small seats in the boot but these are limited to small people (ie children) but the absence of heating or ventilation can make them a bit uncomfortable.

Current changes to the new car configuration means there are fewer variations and some of the options like panoramic sunroof will soon only be available on used cars. Anyone considering a roof box will need the pano roof make this option attractive for some.

Model X

The car with the Falcon doors and the size of, well, the millennium falcon. It's the Tesla SUV and its huge. Built on pretty much the same platform as the Model S it shares many of the same good and bad points.

Exterior

The exterior hasn't changed since launch and the version so there's no real difference to choose from, although there has been a constant stream of small incremental tweaks to the way things are connected, sensors. etc.

Interior

It's big and spacious and various seating options to suit all tastes including a third row and combinations of individual seats and a bench. Regarding the seat options there are 5, 6 and 7 seat combinations and the rear bench also changed to become folding. It's worth checking what it can do on any particular car before buying and assume that the seats all fold magically into the floor for a cavernous cargo bay.

Roadster

The car that started it all.

Production finished a long time ago and this could be destined for collectors status. There are plenty of Left hand drive cars around, but right hand cars are very rare and carry a premium.

The cars do have issues, the version 3 battery suffers from degradation issues and the PEM is an expensive item that fails, and parts can be on a long back order. We've heard of a bricked battery taking the best part of a year to replace. They also need modifications and adaptors to use on T2 and Chademo chargers. They're not for the feint hearted to buy and we suggest that anyone considering them either needs to have deep pockets or be technically very astute.

The majority of this page refers to the MS and MX. There are a few Roadster options, orimarily which version you get as there were a numebr of tweaks and upgrades done to the car during its life. We're not going to go into too much detail as the market is tiny and the information very detailed.

Technology

We've drawn all the technology together into one section although its worth noting that the Roadster is fairly unique and so the following doesnlt apply.

The fabled high tech cars are actually a mixture of actually quite old immature tech and fantastic innovation. The sat nav used to be a relatively standard, cheap affair that was superimposed onto a google map. It looked a lot better than it was. Its now been replaced with a Tesla version (in software 8.1) and while better, that too is not great. It's steadily improving and V9 is said to bring further enhancements.

DAB and Spotify are both poorly implemented with everything from tuning in not working half the time to displaying DAB text missing, its a frustration. Spotify can often hang and its a feature of the frequent software updates that things get worse and then better and then worse again.

Autopilot boils down to 4 choices; cars too early to get it, AP1 from 2015, the Mobileye developed capability that is pretty rock solid in terms of what it does, EAP on cars from the end of 2016 which to all intents and purposes does similar things to AP1, and Full Self Driving which doesn't exist yet. The hardware is either none existent, HW1 for AP1, HW2 for EAP and FSD, and an upgraded HW called HW2.5 with a few extra processes and redundancy. There is little benefit of HW2.5 over HW2 other than with respect to FSD as its widely expected that HW2 will no longer support FSD. If the car has the FSD option, it does guarantee you free hardware upgrades as required, and as its widely expected that HW2.5 is also insufficient then there's little to justify looking for the later hardware car. The only exception is in V9, its understood that the cameras can be used as some form of dashcam with HW2.5

Battery

There have been a number of batteries over the years, 60, 70, 75, 85, 90 and 100, and indeed some of like the 60 have been in two different incarnations. The naming convention generally reflects the kwh capacity of the battery although the 85 and 90 are especially poor with capacities being several kwh below the expectation. A modern 75 has almost the same capacity as an old 85, although it does charge slightly slower on a super charger.

It's worth mentioning the P car batteries. Pre the dual motor cars, the P cars had an 85 battery and that came in P85 and P85+ trim. The P85D became the new performance car, and this was tweaked to become the P90D, both with Insane performance level. They then introduced a higher current fuse releasing more power from the battery, an option called Ludicrous. This was available as a retrofit to the P85D and on the P90D. It was also an option on P100D for a short while before becoming standard.

The output of the battery varies by each model, in fact there are essentially 5 different power levels, the P85DL, 3 at the P90DL and the P100D, the gap between them is noticeable.

When looking at P90DL cars it can be difficult to know which battery you have, as a general rule the later cars always have the later batteries, but some of the earlier cars have them too due to battery replacements etc.

Options

Options on a Tesla can be expensive. Everyone has a view on their “must haves” so I'll not try to convince you otherwise, but here are the good and bad about them.

Option List

What to look out for when buying

When buying check out the following things. Obviously if under Tesla warranty most things will be fixed and all you're really concerned about it the paperwork and accident damage:

Other considerations

Supercharging

All Teslas except a very small number of MS60s from 2014 had super charging enabled. This was unlimited for the life of the car until March 2017 where it became limited to a set amount per year, after which you would pay. Owners from April 2017 could use a referral code to get unlimited charging for their own purposes although this is not transferable to the next owner and the limit will be applied. Many used car garages fail to recognise this or advertise accordingly.

Matters have changed again in Oct 2018 where no cars have unlimited super charging, new or used.

VED in the UK

The government changed the VED payments for cars from April 2017. Cars registered before then were zero rated, however the post April 17 cars, because of their purchase price, are subject to the luxury car tax element of £450 a year for 5 years.

Company car tax.

Tesla being a full EV escaped the change in BIK where benefits were taxed at the cost price and not a % of the purchase price. The bad news is that the BIK rates are very high for 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 but falling in 2020 to only 2%. If you can weather the storm then its worth doing so, or just switch it to a company car at that point if you have the flexibility.

The other much touted benefit is the 100% FYA - effectively the Tax man pays for much of the car as you can offset it against tax. The bad news is that when you sell, you pay tax on the proceeds of the sale. You can of course also claim the expenses of running the car like servicing, tyres etc before tax.

What would we buy used?

We like cars that are in transition points. For used cars we'd suggest that an preface lift cars are starting to look a little old, and EAP cars seem to be a premium, they look like todays cars, they have unlimited super charging and zero VED and still have plenty of warratny left. So early facelift MS cars are where we would head.

Older cars seem to be holding up well, but we think they;re starting to look a bit tired.

The MX is has less choice although we'd steer clear of the 90's unless its an exception price as the range is closed to the 75 than to the 100.

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