Wicked Low Prices On Used Teslas — Just A Few Things To Watch Out For

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Tesla has sold millions of vehicles, and more and more of those are now reaching the used car market. In particular, Hertz is selling a lot of them. At the moment, you can find 1,240 used Teslas on the Hertz website. Many others have already been sold at auction and are available on bigger used car websites. I just read an article about this and it gave me the idea to write about these great deals again. Additionally, I saw a highlighted concern that I don’t think is really a concern, so I wanted to point out what you should watch out for and what you shouldn’t.

First of all, though, just be sure: you can now get Teslas at wicked low prices and it’s worth it. I’m seeing a few 2022 and 2023 Tesla Model 3s for under $22,000. You can also get a $4,000 federal EV tax credit (for buying a used EV) on top of that for model year cars 2022 or older (the car must be at least two model years old), which basically brings the price down below $18,000! This is for a top-tier, sporty, high-tech, premium car that’s just one or two years old! However, be sure that the car doesn’t cost more than $25,000 or else the tax credit isn’t available, and it’s not available to individuals who earn more than $75,000 a year.

Granted, those cheapest options have quite a lot of miles on them for their young age, which most likely means that they were used as Uber and Lyft vehicles. With that being the case, their may be some things to watch out for. Even just as former rental cars, there are some things to watch out for. But there are also some things to appreciate and be thankful for!

At this point, I feel like the most useful format is simply two bullet-point lists — one about things to be thankful for, and one about things to watch out for.

Things to appreciate and be thankful for when buying a used Tesla previously owned by Hertz:

  • It would have been regularly serviced and taken care of, with tires rotated and replaced as appropriate. (Frankly, this is also one key reason why Hertz struggled with Tesla vehicles and found they cost more than expected — people were burning rubber in them and tearing up the tires too quickly, the most expensive maintenance matter by far with a Tesla.)
  • With so many put up for sale at once, prices must be driven down so much that you probably won’t be able to find a better deal for a long time (if ever).
  • Even many younger ones (produced in the past two to three years) are available, with all of the little improvements Tesla has made over time and more consistent production quality and reliability.

Okay, that’s not a long list, but there are big matters there.

Things to watch out for when buying a used Tesla previously owned by Hertz (or anyone, really):

  • Accident history. Reportedly, one of the issues Hertz had is that Tesla renters were more likely to get into accidents. I assume this is partly from them doing stupid things in order to “experience” how quick they are, and partly due to them not being used to driving that kind of car or using the touchscreen while driving. In any case, this is important when buying any car, but given that these are more likely to have been in accidents, be sure to get the full accident history and consider if you think there could be any lingering problems down the road.
  • If they do have relatively high mileage in a relatively short amount of time and were used by Uber or Lyft drivers, there may be more wear & tear in the back seats, trunk, or frunk — so you may want to be extra attentive to conditions in those places. Additionally, there’s probably more potential for historical vomiting in the car, so you may want to have an extra careful check of the flooring and seats. (If that’s not possible through Hertz or wherever you’re looking to buy a used car, you may want to reconsider the “best deals” and go for something with less mileage and a higher price.)
  • Rims. Given some people’s propensity for rim rash, you might want to be extra attentive of what the rims look like on the car you’re going to buy. Also, if the rims aren’t in the best condition, you have to wonder about how well the rest of the car was taken care of. Personally, I think it’s an excellent barometer for overall care of the car.
  • Tires. Tires aren’t cheap, and given what was noted above about Hertz going through tires faster than they expected, you should probably check when the tires on the car you’re looking to buy were replaced, or how many miles they have on them. That’s easily and extra $1000 to $1500 in cost if you need to replace them soon.
  • Battery capacity/range. I don’t think this is as much of a concern as it’s made out to be, since Tesla’s batteries are actually exceptionally durable. However, there are outliers — there are cases of extreme battery degradation. And considering the cost of a new battery, you don’t want to overlook this matter.
  • Doors and touchscreen glitches. As the article I just ran across rightly said, “Rental cars can suffer from an excess of slammed doors and trunks — slamming the latter can mess up the powered strut. In the interior, you should expect high signs of wear on some touchpoints, especially the steering wheel and the rear door cards, which can bubble or flake, particularly if the Tesla was used as a ridehailing vehicle.” In particular, if the wiring harness in the trunk gets worn out, it can lead to things like the backup camera feeds not showing on the touchscreen or the trunk not opening (from the touchscreen, phone app, or even the exterior handle). There was a recall for this issue a few years ago and Tesla installed more durable wiring harnesses. I’m not sure if it’s been a common problem since that recall, but it’s something I still think about and would watch out for.

One thing brought up in the article that caught my attention was that if the car was used for Uber service, it may have used Supercharging much of the time, and the implication was that might have degraded the battery a lot. It has actually been determined that Supercharging doesn’t lead to more battery degradation than relying on slower charging. I have actually used Supercharging for something like 90% of my charging with my 2019 Tesla Model 3 SR+, and I don’t appear to have any more battery degradation than other typical Tesla owners. Also, while I lost a noticeable amount of battery capacity within the first year or so (as is the norm with batteries), it seems I’ve lost only a negligible amount since then. Anyway, whether a Tesla used Superchargers a lot or not doesn’t appear to be something to worry about when it comes to battery capacity.

Overall, if you’re buying a used Tesla from Hertz (or anyone else), there are just a few more things you might want to take your time with and demand:

  • Transferring ownership in the Tesla ecosystem — this is something Hertz has reportedly gotten quicker and smoother doing, but the key is that Tesla needs to identify you as the owner so that you can get the car out of the Hertz fleet mode (which forces Chill mode on the driver), can Supercharge, and can use all the app and connected car features.
  • Getting the car examined by a truest mechanic to make sure there are no hidden surprises.
  • Getting the $4,000 used EV federal tax credit applied at the point of sale if you are eligible for it and want it done that way.

Then, at last, enjoy your Tesla! It will probably feel like new for years to come.

Related stories:

Used Tesla & Electric Car Market Getting Huge Boost — Thanks, Hertz! (And Xcelerate Auto)

Hertz Has 35,000 Teslas In Its Fleet, Not Close To 100,000 Planned — And Why


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7419 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan