Skip to main content

Leaning towards buying used instead of new? Not a bad idea, as there are so many ways to buy great used cars nowadays. I know from experience that waiting for delivery day when you desperately need a car can be exhausting, so I put this guide together to share some tips from my experiences in buying (and selling) used Teslas. Let’s break it down into 3 parts: Buying from a dealership, a private seller, and Tesla.com. Just a disclaimer that I’m not a partner with any of the sites I recommend here. This is just what I’ve used in my experience. 

Dealership

Pros:

  • You can trade in the car you have now 
  • Sometimes haggling is appropriate 
  • They may not be familiar with Teslas and don’t know exactly what they’re selling (could be underpriced)
  • If local, easy to get to and check out the car in person
  • Can find some good deals (Look for holidays or end of month deals)
  • Easy financing 
  • Retail ready – they detail and clean it up
  • There are a few newer companies out there who are not traditional and provide a better experience. Usually online. 

Cons:

  • Dealer fees can add up 
  • Antiquated 
  • They may not be familiar with Teslas and don’t know exactly what they’re selling (could be overpriced)
  • Can’t get as much info about car’s history other than CARFAX reports
  • The experience can be very tiring, taking hours to get through the entire process of checking it out, haggling, signing papers, etc. I traded in my Model 3 for an X recently from a dealership and was there 7 hours. So, come prepared!  

Where to Shop:

Buying Process:

  • Find the Tesla of your dreams 
  • Call the dealership. Even if you found it on a third party site, go directly to the dealership’s website and call them. They will probably ask you for a stock # so look for that on the third party site before calling.  
    • Ask what their dealer fees are 
    • How they finance/what’s the best way to pay
    • If the price budges
    • Ask for a photo of the software specs and additional vehicle info in the Tesla touchscreen – this is to verify exactly what you’re looking at
    • Ask about trading in if applicable
    • In the video above, I actually call a dealership to inquire about a Tesla if you want to check that out. 
  • Go to dealership if possible. If it’s too far away, ask for lots of photos! 
  • Inspect vehicle while you’re there. We have a used Tesla inspection checklist coming out on our YouTube channel 9/26. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel here so you don’t miss it! 
  • Take notes while you inspect it. Do the math. Take your time inspecting and come back when you’re ready to negotiate. 
  • Haggle haggle haggle
  • Don’t be afraid to leave!
  • Fight unnecessary fees.  
  • Wait a long time.
  • Fight more fees.
  • Make payment.
  • Avoid warranty. Unless this dealer specializes in Teslas/EVs, I would steer clear of their warranty. If the Tesla you’re buying is out of Tesla warranty (50k miles or 4 years old), I recommend checking out Xcelerate Auto Xcare.
  • Get car and leave. Congrats! 

Who is this for?

  • For people who want to trade in their vehicle
  • Looking for deals
  • If you’re comfortable standing their ground during negotiation
  • If this isn’t your first Tesla or you’re very familiar with Teslas

Private Seller/Third Party 

Pros:

  • Could be a good deal if they want to sell it fast or you know the seller 
  • Could be well taken care of
  • Can ask owner directly about car’s history

Cons:

  • Deals go fast.
  • If the used market is hot, you might be caught in the middle of a bid war.
  • Could be NOT well taken care of
  • Can be frustrating if they’re not responsive. They may not have the incentive to sell in a timely manner like a dealership would. 
  • No financing a lot of the times. Cashier’s check is the way to go. 
  • Can be more complicated if there is still a loan to be paid off. 
  • You may not get your title for a few weeks.
  • A lot of times people will sell just as their warranty is ending.

Where to Shop:

Buying Process:

  • Find car
  • Call them/try to reach them
  • CARFAX it and check it out to make sure it’s the car you want. Sometimes owners will have this available for you, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. Other times, you’ll have to pay for it through Carfax. 
  • Finalize on price
  • Meet in person in a neutral, safe spot. 
  • Pay remaining balance + cash for the car
  • Get keys and leave. Congrats!

Who is this for?

  • If you want to pay with cash, you have an advantage to possibly negotiate a better deal. A dealer and Tesla doesn’t care if you have cash or not.
  • If friends/family are selling and know it’s in good shape

Tesla.com

Pros:

  • In my opinion, the safest and easiest way to buy.
  • Additional 1 year warranty or 10k miles if the Tesla’s warranty has already expired. 
  • Easy financing
  • Oftentimes, they will upgrade their used Teslas to have FSD or EAP and other software upgrades. 

Cons:

  • Delivery fee can be up to $2K+. No option to go get it. It has to be delivered to your local Tesla center. 
  • Can’t see car until delivery. No photos at all.  
  • Price is usually higher than other used Tesla buying options 

Where to Shop:

  • Tesla.com (obviously) 
  • EV-CPO is a great way to sift through inventory fast 

Buying Process:

  • Find car on website
  • Purchase and put $250 non-refundable deposit down
  • Will get a text once it’s ready
  • Download the Tesla app
  • There will be actions the app gives you to go through and payment to make
  • Go get your ride 

Who is this for?

  • First-time Tesla buyers
  • People not comfortable negotiating or don’t care to haggle, and just want a simple process

 

Check out our Used Tesla Checklist so you can inspect your car properly: Out 9/26