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Opting for a used electric car combines financial savvy with environmental care. As the EV market grows, so do your choices. Hesitant about the switch? Don’t be. Charging tech and range have greatly improved. Buying used offers an affordable entry into the EV lifestyle, allowing you to test the waters without the new-car price tag. Ready to explore your options? Visit our comprehensive guide on used electric cars, and other models, for more insights.

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Technological Improvements

The drop in value between new and used electric cars can be partly attributed to the manufacturer, state and federal new-car incentives that effectively lower the starting price of EVs. This is reflected in the used-car market. Another factor could be the rapid pace at which manufacturers are introducing technological improvements; most people want to buy brand new EVs.

Despite the increased manufacturing of EVs and BEVs, there is still a higher demand as more and more people want to reduce their carbon footprint. EVs offer reduced emissions. As such, some people wait between four to twelve months to buy one of these vehicles. But if you’re not prepared to wait, you can buy a used EV on the second hand market now.

So you know that you want to buy a new car and you’re thinking about your carbon footprint and buying an electric vehicle or a hybrid. But have you really given thought to what kind of car is best for your needs? Check out our ultimate car buying guide to learn more about buying a hybrid or EV.

Try Before You Buy: Questions People Have About Used Electric Cars

Buying a second hand EV is quite similar to any other used car. If you’re new to EVs, you may be wondering about why they are on the market to be sold, and if those reasons are something you should worry about. More specifically, you might be wondering:

Will I have to change the batteries on a used electric car?

The answer depends on how well the battery ages. Over time, as the battery ages, the range will decrease. Typically, you can drive an EV for three years or for approximately 30,000 miles before losing about 10% of range. The key to making the battery last longer over longer ranges, is to brake and accelerate calmly. Driving economically allows the regenerative braking system to conserve more power. 

used electric cars

The average EV battery is under warranty for either 8 years or 100,000 miles, or for 10 years or 150,000 miles. That means that if you buy a used electric car now, it will have a good six years of battery life left.

How will used electric cars be affected by extreme temperatures?

If you live in a very or very cold climate, you may wonder how your car will fare. As with gasoline-powered cars, an EV will see a decline in range in extreme climates. Be sure to buy a car with a built-in active thermal management system. 

Where can I get a tax incentive for purchasing a used EV?

Tax incentives are typically available to new EV purchasers only.

What’s the driving experience like with used electric cars?

EVs don’t have internal combustion engines, which means it delivers a quieter, smoothing driving experience. It doesn’t vibrate as much. The battery is also heavy, which seems to plant the vehicle more securely to the road.

How intense is maintenance with used electric cars?

Used Electric Cars

There are a few benefits when it comes to used electric cars:

  • Fewer moving parts means there are fewer mechanical issues. 
  • Used EVs generally have fewer miles on the clock, which means less wear and tear. 

New models are introduced all the time. However, as of May 2020, these are some of the coolest EVs on the market:

  • Smart ForFour Electric Drive/EQ
  • Citroën C-Zero, aka Peugeot iOn or Mitsubishi i-MiEV
  • Renault ZOE 
  • Volkswagen e-Golf 
  • BMW i3
  • Nissan Leaf 
  • Tesla Model X 
  • Tesla Model 3 
  • Jaguar i-Pace
  • Tesla Model S 
used electric cars

What are the best places to buy used electric cars?

As with all other cars, you can buy used electric cars from dealers or you can look for cars for sale by owner. Although California-based dealers have the highest concentration of EVs, other states that follow the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) also have a decent inventory. That includes:

  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island
  • Oregon
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • Maine 
  • And Connecticut. 

If you can’t buy a used EV from a second-hand dealer, you could always shop online from a dealership in one of the states listed above. Some companies even import both new and used electric cars from other states. 

While cars for sale by owners may be cheaper than buying from dealers, it may well be worth your time and extra expense to opt for a Pre-Owned Certified EV dealer. Warranties from new cars may not be transferable, but many manufacturers have battery pack coverage that extends as long as 8 years or 100,000 miles. They guarantee that the unit will retain up to 80% of its original range.

Pre-Owned Certified EVs also typically go through more rigorous inspections, which is much better than what you would get when buying from an owner. They often offer supplemental coverage for features that are unrelated to the powertrain. 

In most cases, Pre-Owned Certified EVs are well cared for, off lease, and have low mileage. That’s exactly what you should look for when buying used electric cars.

Alternatively, you could look at the following websites:

  • eBay
  • Craigslist
  • Kelley Blue Book
  • Autoblog
  • Carfax.
used electric cars

Buyer’s Tips: What to Look for When Buying Used Electric Cars

When you’re looking to buy a used vehicle, you have to make sure it suits your needs and budget – whether it’s gasoline powered or EV. The same basics apply, such as kicking the tires, checking the interior and exterior for rust or dents, windshield wipers, wear and tear, and ensuring the documentation is in order. But when it comes to electric vehicles, there are some additional things to consider.

  1. The right model. There are many different sizes and ranges. However, when it comes to carrying a crew, the Tesla Model X and Model S are ideal, if they are in your price range. If not, the others are not much bigger than a standard compact car. 
  2. Range. In many cases, the smaller the vehicle, the shorter the range. They are fine if you simply drive to and from work, or if you have a highschool student who needs to get to and from school. 
  3. Battery life. This would be your most important consideration, and it would be well worth speaking to a dealer or EV specialist mechanic to test the battery for degradation, particularly in older models. Does the car have a certified battery status? How much performance has been lost already?
  4. Charger. It’s a good idea to check that the car comes with a charging cord that allows you to charge it using a standard 3-prong 120-volt outlet.
  5. Brakes. Are there rust deposits on the brakes?
  6. Tires. Electric vehicles accelerate rapidly, which means the tires may wear faster, depending on the previous owner’s driving style.

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A Final Thought About Buying Used Electric Cars

When you’re shopping for used electric cars, it’s still a good idea to test drive it, especially if it’s a private purchase. This is less of a concern when you’re buying a Pre-Owned Certified EV, as the warranties and guarantees provide significant protection. Since you’re new to the world of EVs and range, you may choose to ship your EV from its state of origin to your home.

Car Shipping Cost Explained

That way you don’t have to worry about being out of range in a strange town in the middle of nowhere. Speak to Nationwide Auto Transportation today about your questions and concerns, and to request a free car shipping quote.

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