What to Know Before Buying a Used Electric Car (2022)

Buying a used car be a challenging experience, and buying a used electric vehicle is no exception. Since EVs are relatively new entrants into the vehicle market, most EV sales are of new vehicles—unlike gasoline cars, where 70% of U.S. car sales are of used vehicles.

As the EV market grows, so too will the percentage of used vehicles for sale. Knowing what to look for, and what to avoid, will help you navigate this growing market.

Why Buy a Used EV?

Similar to buying a gas-powered vehicle, buying a used EV comes with potential uncertainties about the prior use and condition of the vehicle, as well as a wide variety of places to make the purchase. But don't let that deter you—there are many good reasons to purchase a used EV.

Sufficient Range

While older electric vehicles have less range than newer models, advances in vehicle range have leveled off in recent years; manufacturers realize that few people need vehicles with ranges over 200 or more miles. Also, as public EV charging stations become more abundant, “range anxiety” is less of a concern for EV buyers.

The average U.S. driver drives only 29 miles a day, so an older EV with less than 100 miles of range may be all you need to meet your daily or even weekly needs. And if you have easily accessible EV charging, you may be able to charge your vehicle overnight and have it meet your commute needs in the morning.

If you rarely make long-distance trips in a vehicle, you may find it cheaper to rent a gasoline car (or an EV with better range) than to spend more on a vehicle whose greater range you rarely use.

What to Know Before Buying a Used Electric Car (1)

Hidden Bargains

Given the quick pace of advances in battery technology, EVs depreciate faster than gasoline cars, so you are more likely to find a bargain. For example, a 2015 Nissan Leaf with 84 miles of range had lost more than 70% of its original purchase price by 2021, in large part because newer models had over 200 miles of range. (That's not the case with newer EVs, however, given the high demand for them. A late-model used Tesla Model 3 can even cost more than a brand new one.)

Low Range Decline

Studies have shown that EV batteries lose roughly 2.3% of their energy capacity annually. However, the range displayed on a new EV's dashboard is roughly 80% of the total physical energy capacity of the battery—meaning some 20% of the battery's total capacity is reserved to protect the battery.

As an EV ages, the EV's software decreases the vehicle's reserved energy to maintain as much of the vehicle's original range as possible.

Lower Operating Costs

New or used, running a vehicle on electricity is always cheaper than running one on gasoline, and the price of electricity is far more predictable and stable than the price of gas. Moreover, as they age, EVs lose fuel efficiency far more slowly than gasoline cars. Consumer Reports found that a five- to seven-year-old used EV saved owners two to three times more in fuel costs than the owner of a new EV owner saved compared to a comparable, new gas-powered vehicle.

With fewer moving parts than gasoline vehicles, EVs are on average lower in maintenance costs and last longer. Consumer Reports estimates that, on average, maintenance on an electric vehicle costs roughly $0.03 per mile—half that of a gasoline car.

Tax Breaks on Used EVs

Buying a used EV qualifies for tax breaks from the federal government. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, contains a provision for a 30% tax credit for buying a used EV—with some limits:

  • The total tax credit is capped at $4,000.
  • The sales price of the vehicle must be $25,000 or less.
  • The vehicle must be purchased from a dealer.
  • The vehicle must be two model years or older when sold.
  • The tax credit can be used only once during the lifetime of the vehicle.
  • A buyer must wait three years before using the same tax credit again.

There are also income limitations on buyers of used EVs claiming the tax credit:

(Video) EV Guide to Buying Used Electric Vehicles

  • $75,000 for individuals.
  • $112,500 for heads of households.
  • $150,000 for joint filers.

Fortunately, dealers can apply the tax credit to reduce the sales price of the vehicle, meaning buyers don't have to wait until filing their tax return to receive the credit.

Cost FactorsUsed Gas CarUsed EV
Purchase Price$23,653.00 $20,914.00
Fuel Per Year$1,434.52 $573.81
Annual Maintenance$1,017.12 $508.56
Total Cost$40,814.51$28,490.59

Tips on Buying a Used EV

What to Know Before Buying a Used Electric Car (2)

In many ways, buying a used EV is similar to buying a used gasoline car: You'll want to know the history of ownership, maintenance, and recalls. You may also want to take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic for an inspection. But as with buying a new EV, there are things you should look for that are unique to buying a used EV.

Dealer vs. Private Sale

You can search all the usual places for a used vehicle, including websites like CarGurus or CarMax, Craigslist, and other for-sale-by-owner locations. But to receive the potential $4,000 tax credit on the purchase of a used EV costing less than $25,000, you need to purchase it from a dealer. A higher-cost vehicle might be better purchased from a private seller.

Check the Range

Before viewing a prospective EV in person, check what the car's original range was when new. If the prospective EV isn't fully charged when you inspect it, the EV's instrument cluster will not only tell you the current range available but the percentage to which the battery is charged. Calculate the current maximum range of the vehicle, then compare it to its original range.

Extremes of hot and cold can affect the car's range by an average of 12%. This can be more of a factor for a used EV since it's likely to already have a low range. If you live in those extremes, subtract that 12% from the stated range of the EV to make sure it's the right vehicle for your driving needs.

Check the Warranty

As with gasoline cars, different EV parts come with different warranties. The federal government mandates that EV manufacturers issue a battery warranty with a minimum of eight years/80,000 miles. In California, that mandate is 10 years/150,000 miles.

Not all warranties are transferable to subsequent owners, however. Using the vehicle identification number, you can ask the automaker's customer service department to give you specifics about what's covered and what isn't.

Check the Charging Capabilities

What to Know Before Buying a Used Electric Car (3)

EV charging can have a steep learning curve, though once you settle into a pattern, it can be nearly as simple as charging your phone. Make sure that your vehicle comes with charging cables and that you understand what kind of charging connector(s) it has since there is no universal charging port.

Some EVs can support faster DC charging at public charging stations, while others can't. You might also find that your neighborhood has few public charging stations with the kind of charging port your prospective EV requires.

While any EV can be charged with a regular 120-volt outlet, you'll want to buy the right kind of charging station if you plan on installing a higher-speed charging station at home.

(Video) Used electric car buying guide: everything you need to know / Electrifying

Consider End-of-Life

People who change cars frequently consider the resale value of a used vehicle before they purchase it, hoping to get as much money back when they sell it. As noted above, however, an EV generally depreciates more quickly than a gasoline car, though that may not be the case with newer models.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can used EV batteries be replaced?

    It's likely that the EV battery will outlast the rest of the vehicle. However, should your battery need replacing, the cost can be prohibitive, especially if you didn't pay a hefty upfront price for your vehicle. You can cut your losses by reselling or repurposing your battery as a residential energy storage device.

  • Can used EV batteries be recycled?

    EV batteries can indeed be recycled. Even though the industry for recycling electric car batteries is still in its infancy, it is growing fast and may be available to you by the time your battery gives up the ghost.

  • Are there other incentives available for used EVs?

    Check with your state and local governments, as well as your local electric utility, for the availability and parameters of any incentives. You can also check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. The combination of federal and state incentives may make it worth purchasing a new electric vehicle rather than a used one. Other perks, such as access to car pool lanes or a reduction in registration fees or vehicle taxes, may also apply.

    (Video) 10 Things you NEED to know before buying an EV Electric Vehicle in 2022

View Article Sources

  1. Ajanovic, Amela. “Electric vehicles: solution or new problem?” Environment, Development and Sustainability 20 (2018), 7–22. https://doi-org.une.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10668-018-0190-3.

  2. Harto, Chris. Electric Vehicle Ownership Costs: Today's Electric Vehicles Offer Big Savings for Consumers. Consumer Reports, October 2020.

  3. H.R.5376 — 117th Congress (2021-2022).

  4. Based on the average sales price for a used sedan. CarGurus, “Used Car Price Trends,” 2022, Sedan.

  5. Based on average price of a Nissan Leaf, March 2022, minus a $4,000 tax credit.

  6. Assumes a small sedan driven 11,467 vehicle miles per year at 14.37 cent/mile for fuel and 10.64 cent/mile for maintenance. U.S. Department of Energy, "Average Annual Vehicle Miles Traveled by Major Vehicle Category;" American Automobile Association, “Your Driving Costs,” 2022.

    (Video) Buying A Used Electric Car? Here’s Why You Might Want To Steer Clear Of These Models

  7. EVs are 60% cheaper to fuel than gasoline cars and 50% to maintain, according to Consumer Reports.

FAQs

What questions should I ask before buying an electric car? ›

8 key questions to ask about EVs
  • What's the average EV range? ...
  • What about a plug-in hybrid? ...
  • Aren't they all expensive? ...
  • Are they easy to charge? ...
  • Not just cars – vans too! ...
  • So how much do EVs actually cost to run? ...
  • Are there any BIK advantages to running an EV? ...
  • What happens if I run out of charge?

What is considered high mileage for an electric car? ›

Answer provided by. Much like gas-powered cars, electric cars made today are generally considered good for about 200,000 miles, but the longevity of an electric car's battery system depends on more than just miles.

What are the disadvantages of owning an electric car? ›

What are the downsides to electric cars?
  • Their batteries need rare metals. ...
  • Making electric cars creates more emissions. ...
  • They are only as green as their power sources. ...
  • Electric cars can be expensive to buy. ...
  • You can't drive as far in an electric car. ...
  • There aren't enough charging points.

What factors should you consider when buying an electric car? ›

The Five Most Critical Considerations For Any Electric Car Buyer
  • Ensure the vehicle's range is well within your needs. ...
  • Consider the price, less any applicable incentives. ...
  • Ensure that passenger room and cargo space meet your needs. ...
  • Make sure the electric-car driving experience is to your liking.

Do electric cars hold their value? ›

According to Forbes, electric vehicles typically lose more than $5,700 off their original value per year of ownership. That means about $28,500 off their original price after five years compared to an average of less than $16,000 over five years across traditional vehicle types.

How long do electric car batteries last? ›

“Today, most EV batteries have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years within the car – and a second life beyond.” It's also worth noting that EV battery technology is still evolving, so as tech develops we expect batteries' lifespan to increase – as well as becoming cheaper, smaller and even lighter.

Do used electric cars qualify for tax credit? ›

Used electric vehicle rebate.

Anyone considering a used electric car under $25,000 could obtain a new $4,000 tax credit, subject to income and other limits. To qualify, used cars must be two model years old. The vehicle also must be purchased at a dealership. The vehicle also only qualifies once in its lifetime.

Is there a tax credit for buying a used electric vehicle? ›

For the first time, buyers of used EVs will get a tax credit: either $4,000 or 30 percent of the sale price of the vehicle—whichever is lower—but only if they buy a car from a dealership.

Can you take electric cars on road trips? ›

Can you take an EV on a road trip? You can take an EV on a road trip as long as you plan ahead: Look for charging stations along your route ahead of time, especially in places you already plan to stop; combine charging with food stops or supply runs, and always have a plan B.

What is the biggest problem with electric cars? ›

EV owners have experienced chronic problems with the display screens, exterior door lights, failing temperature sensors, mismatched paint, and seals and weatherstripping. It's not just that these problems occur, but that they occur at a higher rate than with conventional vehicles.

How much does electric car battery cost? ›

EV batteries costs between $2500 and $50000, depending on the brand, capacity, and technology used. Replacing the battery will cost between $0 and $20000, depending on the vehicle's warranty. The average cost of an electric car battery is between 30% and 57% of the vehicle's total value.

What is the cost of charging an electric car? ›

Cost Of Charging

This implies that changing your EV at a proper charging station will cost you anywhere between Rs 100-200, while charging it at home would cost you Rs 180-500.

What is the average lifespan of an electric car? ›

While anecdotal reports suggest that some Teslas have been driven over 400,000 miles, that may not be every driver's experience. A recent study in Joule estimated the cost of owning an electric vehicle over an average lifespan of 15 years and 161,729 vehicle miles traveled.

Do electric car batteries lose their charge? ›

Batteries are designed not to die fully, but slowly lose charging capacity over time. This depletion happens gradually with many reporting the loss of a few percentage points over the several years.

How long does it take to charge an electric car? ›

Summary. The time it takes to charge an electric car can be as little as 30 minutes or more than 12 hours. This depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point.

Is insurance higher for electric cars? ›

Insurance for an electric car may cost more than insurance for a regular gas-powered car. An electric car's higher price tag and more complex equipment means it may cost more to repair or replace if it's in an accident. That can mean higher rates for policyholders who carry comprehensive and collision coverage.

Is it expensive to fix an electric car? ›

According to a recent study from CCC Intelligent Solutions Inc., for example, based on actual insurance claims for small, non-luxury-brand cars with front-end damage that were still driveable, the average EV model cost $4,041 to fix. That was about 27% more than the average for roughly comparable non-EV models.

Are hybrid or electric cars better? ›

Summary. When all the factors are taken together—purchase price, range, refueling costs, maintenance and experience—EVs are simply a better investment. Their net emissions are lower, they require less maintenance, they actually cost less over the lifetime of the vehicle, and they're just more fun to drive.

How much does it cost to replace a Tesla battery? ›

Tesla battery replacement cost varies depending on the labor and parts needed. Typically, the most basic battery replacement in tesla costs between $13,000 and $14,000. For the Model S premium sedan, replacing a Tesla battery costs around $13,000-$20,000.

What maintenance does an electric car need? ›

The battery, motor, and associated electronics require little to no regular maintenance. There are fewer fluids, such as engine oil, that require regular maintenance.

What happens to electric cars when the battery dies? ›

An EV will simply slow down and, eventually, completely shut down. If you are in the market for a new car we can help you find local deals and the latest incentives from dealers in your area.

How many times can you claim EV tax credit? ›

How Many Times Can You Claim the Electric Vehicle Tax Credit? You can only claim the credit once for each qualifying vehicle. The tax credit must be claimed in the year when you purchased and began to use your new fully electric or plug-in hybrid model car or fully electric two-wheeled vehicle.

What states have EV rebates? ›

States with the best EV incentives
  • Colorado.
  • Connecticut.
  • Delaware.
  • Maryland.
  • 5. California.
  • Massachusetts.
  • Oregon.
  • New York.
7 Jul 2022

What does PHEV stand for? ›

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) use batteries to power an electric motor and another fuel, such as gasoline, to power an internal combustion engine (ICE). PHEV batteries can be charged using a wall outlet or charging equipment, by the ICE, or through regenerative braking.

Are electric vehicles 100% tax deductible? ›

The qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit is a nonrefundable federal tax credit of up to $7,500,” according to Jackie Perlman, principal tax research analyst at H&R Block's Tax Institute. “The credit reduces your tax liability dollar for dollar.

How do I get tax credit for electric car? ›

To qualify for the new Federal Electric Car Tax Credit, the price of a new car must be $55,000 or less. The purchase price of a new truck, van or SUV must be $80,000 or less. All qualifying vehicles must be built in North America.

Is EV credit refundable? ›

Additionally, this credit is not refundable, so you won't receive a refund for the unused portion of the credit. You also can't carry the credit over to your next year's return. To qualify for the qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit, these conditions must be true: You own the vehicle.

Do electric cars charge while driving? ›

Do electric cars recharge while driving? The short answer is no they do not charge while driving. Technology has advanced immensely over the years, but it's not yet in a place where electric vehicles can charge while driving. However, some EVs will charge when you use the breaks.

How long does it take to charge an electric car at a gas station? ›

One big reason is that charging EVs is slow. While drivers today are accustomed to filling their gas tank in less than five minutes, EVs, depending on the size and specifications of the battery, typically take at least 30 minutes to get 80 percent charged at the fastest charging stations out there.

Do electric cars use oil? ›

Electric vehicles are powered by a battery and an EV engine with an electric motor. There are no pistons, valves, or other moving parts that require lubrication, and therefore, EVs don't use the traditional engine oil that would help maintain those parts.

Should I charge my electric car every night? ›

The short answer to the question is no. In general, you should not charge your electric car every night. It isn't necessary in most cases. The practice of charging an electric vehicle every night can shorten the lifespan of the car's battery pack.

How well do electric cars work in cold weather? ›

According to AAA's “Cold Weather Can Cut Electric Car Range by Over 40%”, EVs often lose 12% of their range in cold weather, but the loss leaps to 41% with the heater on full blast.

How much does it cost to drive an electric car 100 miles? ›

If electricity costs ¢10.7 per kWh and the vehicle consumes 27 kWh to travel 100 miles, the cost per mile is about $0.03. If electricity costs ¢10.7 per kilowatt-hour, charging an EV with a 200-mile range (assuming a fully depleted 54 kWh battery) will cost about $6 to reach a full charge.

Do electric cars lose range over time? ›

With some Teslas and Chevy Bolts well over 100,000 miles (or even 200,000 to 300,000 miles), early indications are that EVs in general lose range by about 2% to 3% a year. Or, some experts say, the loss could be more dramatic if drivers fast-charge their cars often.

Can an electric car battery be replaced? ›

Electric car batteries typically last for over 10 years and can last up to 20 with proper care. Replacing a battery is expensive, so it's important to factor that into your overall budget. Take a closer look at what costs go into replacing an electric car battery and how to extend its life.

How long does a Tesla battery last? ›

According to Elon Musk on Twitter, Tesla car batteries are supposed to technically last for 300,000 to 500,000 miles, which is 1,500 battery cycles. That's between 22 and 37 years for the average car driver, who, according to the Department of Transportation, drives about 13,500 miles per year.

Can I plug my electric car in at home? ›

Summary. You can charge an electric car at home using a dedicated home charger (a standard 3 pin plug with an an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) cable should only be used as a last resort). Electric car drivers choose a home charging point to benefit from faster charging speeds and built-in safety features.

What does it cost to charge an electric car at Walmart? ›

Pricing ranges from 25 cents to 99 cents, depending on the vehicle's power level, with a $1 session fee.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at Walgreens? ›

Because Walgreens' electric car charging partners are planning on charging between $3 and $4 for a 90 minute recharge.

How much is maintenance on an electric car? ›

The average cost to maintain an EV, according to AAA, without insurance is $949 annually. It's about $330 less than a gas-powered vehicle. They don't require oil changes and other routine maintenance.

How often do you have to change a battery in an electric car? ›

Electric car battery technology

This decreases the range and time needed between each journey to charge. Most manufacturers have a five to eight-year warranty on their battery. However, the current prediction is that an electric car battery will last from 10 – 20 years before they need to be replaced.

Why did electric cars disappear? ›

There are two big reasons: range and production costs. Gas-powered vehicles could travel farther than their electric counterparts. And Henry Ford's work on mass production for the Model T made gas-powered cars cheaper to produce. The combo nearly wiped out electric cars for nearly 100 years.

How long can an electric car sit without charging? ›

An electric car can sit for months without charging.

This can only be achieved if the battery is charged to an appropriate percentage which is typically around 50% for most electric cars.

How long can an electric car idle? ›

EV motors don't use up power while stationary so according to experts and tests, electric cars can idle for more than 24 hours. In an article by Reuters, Oxford University engineering professor David Howey, states that EV motors don't use power when the car is stationary.

What is the average annual cost to purchase and run an electric vehicle? ›

When the purchase cost of each type of vehicle is factored in, average gasoline vehicles are $1,454 per year cheaper to run. EVs cost an average of $9,406 per year (including the purchase price) to run compared to $7,952 annually for gas vehicles (including the purchase price).

Is an electric car worth it? ›

EV drivers spend around 60% less on fuel than gas-burning vehicle drivers, according to a Consumer Reports Study. Over the average 200,000 mile lifespan of their vehicle, the total cost of a gas-powered car would be $94,540, while a similar EV would cost $90,160, according to CNBC.

How long do electric car batteries last? ›

“Today, most EV batteries have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years within the car – and a second life beyond.” It's also worth noting that EV battery technology is still evolving, so as tech develops we expect batteries' lifespan to increase – as well as becoming cheaper, smaller and even lighter.

How long does it take to charge an electric car at a fast charging station? ›

Public Charging: 50kW DC fast-charging stations provide 0-80% in 85 minutes, and 100kW DC fast-charging stations provide 0-80% in 45 minutes.

Do electric cars break down more? ›

There are no suggestions that electric cars breakdown more frequently than their combustion engine alternatives. Compared to a petrol or diesel car, an electric car is comprised of significantly fewer parts, which can result in less maintenance.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car? ›

The average cost of charging an EV at a commercial charger, from almost empty to almost full, is between $10 and $30.

Do you need to drive an electric car every day? ›

It turns out most electric-car drivers don't even bother to plug in every night, or necessarily to fully charge. People have regular driving habits, and if that means 40 or 50 miles a day, a couple of plug-ins a week is fine.

How long does it take to charge an electric car? ›

Summary. The time it takes to charge an electric car can be as little as 30 minutes or more than 12 hours. This depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point.

What is the biggest problem with electric cars? ›

EV owners have experienced chronic problems with the display screens, exterior door lights, failing temperature sensors, mismatched paint, and seals and weatherstripping. It's not just that these problems occur, but that they occur at a higher rate than with conventional vehicles.

What if my electric car runs out of power? ›

If you're driving an electric car and it runs out of power, the short and simple answer is this: the car will stop—and you'll need to call roadside assistance to get towed to the nearest charging station.

Can you drive and charge an electric car in the rain? ›

The charging cable and every component is weatherproof so you can charge an EV if it rains or if it rains suddenly if your EV is charging, then there is still nothing to worry about. Before electric cars go on sale, they have to be tested and they are weatherproof in terms of rain like any other car!

How long does it take to charge an electric car at a charging station? ›

Charging an electric car can be done at home or at any public charging stations. Fully charging a car can be done in just 30 minutes, or it may take as long as half a day.

Is charging free for electric cars? ›

Many Level 2 public charging stations are free-to-use. For those that are pay-per-use, the average cost is $1.00/Hour or $2.50/Charge.

How long does it take to charge an electric car at a gas station? ›

One big reason is that charging EVs is slow. While drivers today are accustomed to filling their gas tank in less than five minutes, EVs, depending on the size and specifications of the battery, typically take at least 30 minutes to get 80 percent charged at the fastest charging stations out there.

What are 3 disadvantages to an electric car? ›

These disadvantages include finding charging stations, charging times, higher initial costs, limited driving range, and battery packs can be expensive to replace.

Do electric cars lose charge when parked? ›

Electric cars do lose charge when parked.

This is mostly minimal, and you can even change a few settings on your car to minimize the loss of battery power even more.

Can you sit in an electric car while charging? ›

Just like sitting in your car while filling up with gas, you can sit in an electric vehicle. There is a low risk of electrocution occurring when sitting in EVs while charging since they are well-designed to ensure user safety.

What does it cost to charge an electric car at Walmart? ›

Pricing ranges from 25 cents to 99 cents, depending on the vehicle's power level, with a $1 session fee.

Do electric cars stop charging when full? ›

When you plug in your electric car, the charger “fills it up” to 100%, then stops. Once fully charged, there is no need to leave the car plugged in anymore.

How many miles can an electric car go? ›

Overview of EV range
ShortestAverageLongest
135 km (84 miles)313 km (194 miles)637 km (396 miles)
26 Oct 2021

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