Should I buy a cheap Tesla?

Last updated 02-Sep-2022

Buying a cheap Tesla might seem a great way to get the car of your dreams for minimal outlay, but cars are generally not cheap without a reason.

A cheap tesla can also be hard to find, primary because the starting price of most Tesla vehicles is relatively high, and the demand is sky high so depreciation is low.

And do you look at private sales without dealer margins, 3rd party dealers or head to Teslas used inventory to see what is available. The beauty of our inventory listings is we cover all 3 of those options so you can easily compare prices side by side. Nobody else does this.

How cheap is the cheapest car?

Well that depends on where you are in the world. In general the cheapest cars are the first Model S cars to arrive in that country. In the US you can find 2013 car for $25k, in the UK a 2014 can be had for under £30k. In Norway a 2014 car will cost you Kr 214k, and in Holland they start around €27k. But while cars at these prices exist, they are not common and will usually be high mileage or possibly accident damaged and almost certainly come with no warranty and possibly some issues.

That said, if you're handy with car DIY and are prepared to shop around for spare parts, there can be some good buys to be had. At present though, unless you can deal with a large bill should it occur, we would recommend being cautious about buying any Tesla without a Battery warranty. Not because failures are high, but because a failure is expensive to fix.

Top tips when buying an older Tesla

If you're buying a Tesla on a budget it's worth being aware of a few things. Our tops tips are:

  • Tesla make continual changes to the car design, and rarely with a defined date or VIN number when the cutover occurs. It can also vary by country. As a result, any youtube video or review that you might watch may not be to the same spec as the car you're looking to buy, even if the car looks the same and was made int he same year.
  • Quoted range, espcially in Europe, used an older system which resulted in very optomistic figures. Later cars are more realistic. Don't think a car with 270 miles range on the old system will go as far as a newer car with a 250 mile range using the new system.
  • Continual improvement in batteries tech and specification can often mean a later car but of a lower model is a better buy than an older model of a supposedly higher spec. e.g. a later MS75D is a better but than an early MS85D, and a later M3 RWD is a better buy than an earlier M3 LR.
  • Junk adverts exist all over the place by dealers who are looking to show they have stock to then try and up sell you when you speak to them. Be ruthless. Also watch out for scam adverts with cheap cars.
  • Mistakes in adverts are also common. The most common mistakes relate to transferable free supercharging, the autopilot version and other options, but the specification is also listed incorrectly with regard to numbers of speakers, 0-60 times etc. Even Tesla can make this mistake.
  • Starting prices by model

    You can easily see the cheapest car by visiting our listings, and then filtering by model, but as a guide, in July 2022 the starting prices are below. It's worth noting the UK model lX, this is sold at Tesla with 1 year warranty and is the cheapest for sale in the country. Don't believe 3rd party dealers and resellers like findmyelectric when they say Tesla CPO inventory is too expensive.

    Model S

    • In the US you can find 2013 car for $25k.
    • In the UK a 2014 can be had for under £30k.
    • In Norway a 2014 car will cost you Kr 214k.
    • In Holland they start around €27k.

    Model X

    • In the US you can find 2016 car for $55k.
    • In the UK a 2017 can be had for under £47k which also happens to be sold by Tesla.
    • In Norway a 2017 car will cost you Kr 407k.
    • In Holland a 2016 car will start around €55k.

    Model 3

    • In the US you can find 2018 car for $36k.
    • In the UK a 2019 can be had for under £36k.
    • In Norway a 2019 car will cost you Kr 370k.
    • In Holland a 2019 car will start around €43k.

    Model Y

    • In the US you can find 2020 car for $53k.
    • In the UK a 2022 can be had for under £60k although this is over list due to the shortage.
    • In Norway a 2021 car will cost you Kr 590k.
    • In Holland a 2021 car start around €69k.

    Where to Buy?

    We talk about the different buying options in our general buyers guide, but at the cheapest end of the market we would look everywhere and buy the car purely based on condition and warranty.

    Some will argue against buying from dealers who do not specialise in EVs. While there is some validity in that argument, to buy cheaply you need to know what you are buying, you will need to do your own research, and the less the dealer knows aboutt he car the more likely they will have priced it cheaply, sometimes just to get rid of it. In such a case, do not expect gold standard dealer facilities and insight and pay bottom dollar for the car.

    What are the main things to wach out for?

    For each model we have produced a buyers guide that covers the main issues with the model. We'd suggest starting there. Other things to look out for are:

    Is a cheap Tesla like a modern one?

    In a word, no. Over the years Tesla have made significant changes to the cars and an 7 year old car will be very different to one coming out of the factory today. Even the more recent cars like the Model 3 have had significant changes over the years including bigger batteries, the addition of the heat pump and an upgrade to the MCU.

    An old Tesla does not have the technology a newer car does, and can also feel like an old car.

    Other ways to save money buying a Tesla.

    There are other ways to save money buying a Tesla. Our guide to saving money when buying a Tesla talks through some of the other options, buying inventory cars and when the best time to buy might be.

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