Once you've ordered your Tesla, you'll be full of expectation ahead of its delivery. The wait can feel like a lifetime, but it can also be filled with anxious moments due to the way Tesla do things. This guide breaks it down into the key facts to help you prepare for what is to come and provides a useful check-list for use on collection.
You should have a Tesla account already as part of the ordering process. Within there you will see your order. This updates periodically to keep you informed of where your car is in the odering process and sets some expectation of delivery date. It is also the place to find contract documentation and upload the necessary documents that Tesla needs.
Delivery times can vary quite a lot depending on model, time of year, and other factors going on within Tesla. There are a few key points to recognise about the way Tesla does things:
Tesla do not build custom orders, they match custom orders to the inventory they produce, and anything spare tends to get listed as new inventory. From time to time you will also see Tesla drop certain options from the custom order screen, this is usually because the availability is low and they want to prevent new orders coming in which will not be fuilfilled for some time as there is no spare capacity for that combination of model. The quickest way to get a car is therefore new inventory, but it may not have the model configuration that you are seeking.
Tesla attempt to sell all inventory every quarter and have as few cars in transit as possible. Given the geographical spread of the factories, this typically means cars destined for European/remote regions are built in the first part of a quarter and shipped to the destination and delivered to customers in the last 5 weeks of the quarter. Nearer markets to the factories have inventory built after this inventory and are shipped and delivered within a few weeks, also in the last 5 weeks of the quarter. As a result, the majority of Tesla inventory is delivered in the last 5-6 weeks of any quarter irrespective of when it was ordered.
Lead times depend on the availability of inventory rather than when the next available build slot it. If you order in a quarter where there is no matching inventory, your lead time will be to the end of the next quarter at best. Within in a quarter, almost irrespective of when you order, the delivery will be near the end if a match is successful or you order from inventory. And if you order an inventory car, even as late as the last week of the quarter, delivery can happen within days. Based on our own referrals from inventory orders, many cars are ordered and delivered within days in the second half of the quarter.
Typical emails when ordering a new car include the following although this will vary depending on how quickly your car arrives and whether you have opted for a trade in or finance :
Some report major issues with finance through Tesla and getting approval, but more to the point it's the communication and how quickly they act that gets people annoyed. People do get refused finance but it's often quite a long way down the line, so chase it up and make sure you get agreement as no news is not always good news.
Look out for the mileage excess payment. This has changed several times and there have been situations where the excess mileage penalty is lower than the difference in monthly payments when opting for a higher mileage deal. In those situations, it is cheaper to pick the lowest mileage policy and pay the excess at the end. Check your offer, check its in writing and then decide.
Part ex your car can also be a challenge as Tesla really aren't into the used car business so even Tesla's are treated like another make. Offers are very similar to companies that will buy your car for cash and who are often linked to auction houses.
We would strongly recommend getting a quote before even ordering. For some the insurance is very reasonable, for others it's a non-starter. It's pretty obvious that if you're young, live in a dubious postcode/zip area and are buying the fastest, most expensive car, it's not going to be cheap, but we've also heard of "normal" people getting priced out the market. These cars are often expensive to repair, have been known to be the target of theft and this all adds to the premium.
Also be mindful that Tesla don't have a recognised tracking system and it can be easily defeated. If your insurance asks for a specific standard of tracker, check the Tesla one is covered as it is not a monitored system which is usually required. Many still accept the Tesla system but it is worth confirming with your insurer and keep a record of any agreement.
It's worth taking a look at the user manual or guide and if this can't be found on the Tesla website, we include copies on our website for all the models. Tesla also have a number of video guides on their web site which can be watched.
Before collection, install the Tesla Application on your smart phone.
And of course, make provision to pay for the car as necessary!
On the big day, it's worth giving your new car a good check over. There can be problems raising these retrospectively with Tesla, so it's always better to raise them at the time as it removes any doubt however caused, especially useful for paint and trim issues as Tesla can easily claim they occurred after you picked up the car. We've marked these checks accordingly, and while you could do all the checks before driving away you may just want to just get out and drive. Some faults also take time to appear.
Tesla are increasingly saying some issues are within tolerance although they don't publish a set of tolerances. These can include slightly blemishes, alignment issues and water in lights, and are largely cosmetic. The more worrying aspect of this is they agree issues are warranty at the time of collection and then in some instances reject them when the car is in for repair. We would try and agree in righting any issues will be rectified if you are particularly concerned about them when picking up the car. Even if this is a one-way email to Tesla with the snagging list you have a record that these were the agreed issues that would be subsequently addressed.
For convenience we have created a printable checklist for the collection day that you can take with you or download to your mobile device with the 'before you drive away' points.
Take your driving license with you.
Take evidence or details of the finance in case there is a dispute.
Take a copy of your insurance documents.
They will almost certainly run through all the paperwork with you carefully anyway, but please check they are correct!
It may sound stupid, but check the number plates are correct, front and back both match your insurance and what you expected. Check your name and address are spelt correctly on the forms so the car gets registered correctly. Check the VIN number on the car matches the documentation.
Check the finance one last time and ensure it all works out. It's not unknown that a deposit has been forgotten and not taken into account.
Check the specification is what you expected.
Check the paintwork for blemishes, damage including dents, stone chips and swirl marks.
Look down each side of the car at an angle and try and catch the light so any dents show up.
Check the alloy wheels for any damage, primarily around the rim, but the wheels can also have damage on the spokes.
Check the glass and lights for chips and cracks/ Also check for condensation in the lights, and while a small amount is normal, make sure anything that worries you is at least discussed.
Check all doors and windows work.
Check for any obvious damage to the seats, the plastics, and the kick plates on all four doors and the boot.
Check any ordered accessories are present. You should at least have a UMC charger with appropriate adapters.
Check mileage. It should be relatively low at no higher than 50 miles if new.
Check rear view camera, if necessary select reverse to do so.
Check the panel gaps to ensure there are no unusually large or small gaps, and they should match on both sides of the car.
Check panels lie flat. As an example, it's been known for the doors to be slightly proud of the surrounding panels and the exposed edge is prone to damage. Check this along the length of the panel edges as it can align in the middle but be high at one extreme and low at the other as if twisted. Also check around the headlights as some cars have had distorted trim between the bumper and lights. It's worth doing this a couple of times as temperature can have an effect.
Recheck the paint, but this time play attention for defects such as excessive orange peel and buffer marks which tend to only be visible in good light. Tesla allow up to 100 miles to report any issues so if your journey home after collection is longer than this then check either before you leave.
Check the trim. There is a fair bit of decorative bits and bobs which are simply stuck on and hammered into place, primarily around the windows. Check the lines flow.
Check tyre pressures (which can be done using the built-in display).
Check wipers and washer jets operate.
Check general driving characteristics
Check all the controls including window operation work as expected.
Check any options work including heated rear seats, sun roof, and cornering lights if fitted.
Check rear seats fold flat
Check music from a variety of sources. Ensure DAB stations can be found. Check USB music plays without interference.
Adjust and check side mirrors function.
Check the main screen works by selecting a variety of options and displays.
If you have ordered autopilot, check if has calibrated after about 100 miles, ideally on motorways.
Check for vibrations and excessive wind noise from the car.
Check you can charge the car.
Pair your mobile device and try making and receiving a call.
Check all key fobs, remote access and other means of unlocking and accessing the car function
Check the app has registered the car
If everything is fine, enjoy your car. If not, then make a list and raise with the service centre.
We have also created a list of things to do within a few days of collecting your car to make the experience more enjoyable.
There is some debate whether Tesla still run a Certified Pre Owned or CPO programme. We believe they do as they still check the car mechanically and they issue a fresh warranty, however they don't try to bring the car back to an 'as new' condition with regard to body work and interior. Tesla even have option codes in their data streams indicating whether the CPO checks have been completed. Irrespective of whether its a CPO or just a used car, there are still some reasonable precautions to take
A lot of the check-list is inspecting these cosmetic issues and clearly given their change in policy you can't expect the car to be fault free, but you can still do the checks and compare them to any photographs you have been sent prior to purchase. It is only reasonable that the car is not in a worse state than the evidence you were provided at the time of ordering.
Many of Tesla's options or variations are hard to determine just by looking at the car. For instance, which version of autopilot hardware does it have, does it have unlimited super charging etc. While some of this is clear from the age, it not fool-proof.
We provide a guide on how to check which features a Tesla has to help cross check what an advertiser says as some dealers sadly get it wrong. Also check our advice on Tesla changing the specification of cars which is included in our used car buyers guides.
Check status of free supercharging and get this in writing if the car is meant to have it.