Tesla Model Y Buyers Guide

The Tesla Model Y has been available since 2020 and only in America including the USA, Canada and Mexico until now (May 2021). While it has not been out long, there are an ioncreasing amount of used cars available for purchase as well as well as new inventory. We run through the history, albeit short, the options, what we think are the common issues and make some suggestions on what to buy.

Why the Model Y?

Tesla Worldwide Inventory Search

You may already know the Model Y is the car you want, and we have a guide to the Tesla model differences. It is worth reflecting briefly on the other choices for similar money. The main alternative to the Model Y is the Model X for practicality. These are larger and more premium and while even an early Model X is likely to be more expensive than a Model Y to buy, we think the depreciation on the Model Y is likely to mean it costs less over time. The Model 3 is the other alternative on price, and even the Model S could be a viable alternative. In many regards, the Model Y is the fusion of all those other cars rolled into one.

New or used?

The Model Y is widely available as new, nearly new or used cars, and we've a guide to saving money buying a Tesla which covers the different choices in more detail. The key differences in summary however are:

History of changes

The Model Y is so new that there has been little opportunity for significant changes. Even the Model 3 changes that were introduced at the beginning of 2021 were already on the Model Y from launch including the heat pump and the dechome window trim.

For a full list of the changes and in which year see our guide to Tesla model history and changes over time.

Battery size and range

The Model Y comes in Standard Range RWD, Long Range AWD and Performance AWD although the Standard Range has now been dropped as a new order. For most buyers the choice really is the Long Range unless they want the marginally better performance of the Performance model.

The Model Y is one of the more efficient EVs you can buy, but that efficiency also means any changes in inefficiency can be magnified. The WLTP and EPA test results are also fairly limited in what they tell you as the weather, driving style and speed can all cause significant fluctuations in the available range. In cold weather energy is required to heat the cabin and the car efficiency is reduced as the battery warms up, the smaller the battery the larger the proportion of available energy goes to heating, as a result stop start journeys in winter are worse than a single continual drive, and we've a page dedicated to cold weather driving to provide tips on how to improve range. Our rule of thumb is in winter, the cars can do approximately 80% of the rated range, but you should also allow a 10-20% buffer to reach a working range as you will neither want to regularily charge to 100% or finish the journey with less than 10%.


All Model Y cars come with Autopilot hardware so the only material choice is the software level installed. Autopilot is standard on most, we feel paying a little extra for Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self driving is worthwhile with Enhanced Autopilot as an after purchase option a sensible option if you can make use of the features. Our estimation is FSD adds about 5-7% to the value of a car, so if you are looking at a car with FSD and one without, expect to pay about $3k more. We don't feel the $10k/£8k asking price from Tesla is ever reflected in used car prices.


The model Y is fairly light on options besides colour and interior. There are however a few to look out for:

Option List

What features does the car have?

To find out what is activated in the car follow this guide on how to find out what hardware versions a Tesla has. Many dealers are now including the required pictures in their adverts and those that do, clearly understand the cars.

Free Supercharging

No Model Y came with unlimited free supercharging for the life of the car. Tesla have however offered a year free supercharging to cars delivered at the end of 2020. It is not clear if this is transferable to new owners within the year, generally speaking since 2017 any free supercharging given to new car buyers has not been transferable..

Key issues

The Model Y was a new platform and Tesla seem to have learnt from a number of the previous issues, however they have also introduced some new ones. Most of the issues are factory issues and not ones that develop over time so the owner or a good condition car is likely to run into fewer problems over time, however getting a car in good condition can be harder than it should be because of Tesla's stance.

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