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Advice on buying a used Model S P90D

Maryland

Member
Jul 30, 2020
54
53
Maryland
Hi all. Made this account as a prospective Tesla buyer. Perhaps I'll keep using it if I become an owner someday.

The situation: I am looking at a used Model S P90D, which is being sold by a non-Tesla dealership as a trade-in. The vehicle has Ludicrous mode, but I don't know what other options it has. Clean title, no accidents. Around 40k miles on the odometer. I could buy it for $47k.

Intrigued, I told them 4 days in advance that I would be coming to see the vehicle. I drive two hours one-way just to look at it... only to find that the car's battery is completely dead. I can't even sit inside the car (because electric doors), never mind turn it on and give it a test drive. The least they could have done is make sure it was charged before I arrived. There was a charger not even 40 feet away in their own parking lot! But I digress...

As a former service tech (Honda, Nissan/Subaru), I'm used to the sales department being pretty oblivious when it comes to mechanical knowledge and general maintenance. Plus this dealership doesn't tend to sell EVs, so I can't say I'm all that surprised by their incompetence in letting the car die completely. The rotors were pretty rusted, so odds are they just let the battery drain to nothing out of honest neglect. They said it sat in the lot for 2 weeks. I'm not sure if that would be long enough to drain the battery. Perhaps if it was parked with little charge to begin with.

Nevertheless, at this point I have to wonder if permanent damage was done to the vehicle. I visited on Monday. It's now Friday. The car has been completely dead for at least that long. I have to wonder: how badly does it damage the battery to leave it completely dead for 1 week+? I also know there's a 12v battery, so this also might be damaged and in need of replacement (I know they need replacement every 3 years or so). I also have to speculate if there is some kind of drain causing the battery to die prematurely. I know there's settings you can tweak to prepare for long sits, and having the wrong setting can drain the battery quickly, but I'm more referencing a traditional battery drain—the type that stems from a vehicle malfunction. Plus the car seemed really under-priced to begin with, and then I talked them down further to $47k + free inspection. This seems almost suspiciously low, especially for a dealer. I can't help but wonder if there's even more wrong with it.

I've been in contact with the since my Monday visit. They initially said that they were going to have a Tesla mechanic come over and diagnose the problem and fix it. However, the dealer contacted me today to inform me that Tesla was too busy to look at it, so the dealer is going to have one of their own non-Tesla mechanics look at it, which is a shame because having an independent Tesla mechanic look it over would have given me greater confidence in the accuracy of its diagnosis and quality of the repair. Now I'm more skeptical of the quick-fix so they can dump a lemon.

I mean, I really want to like this car, but the dealer's incompetence is really making that pretty hard. It seems like a sweet deal on a car that checks all of the boxes for everything I want. I mean, it is a good deal if it turns out it's just a dead Li-Ion battery and there's no real damage, but it's risky. I guess I'd just like to have a better idea of the extent of the possible damage so that I can make a more informed choice. Maybe I'm just blinded by how badly I'd like to own/drive one of my dream cars, which is causing me to ignore the obvious red flags. Any advice on what I should look for during a second visit and test-drive after they eventually fix the car would be appreciated.
 

Ostrichsak

Active Member
Sep 6, 2018
3,503
3,546
Colorado, USA
Don't buy a used P90D from Tesla.
+1

Read the horror stories on buying used from Tesla. Pay attention to only those within the last two years or so as previous experiences basically don't reflect what the Tesla used program has become. I'd need to save $7,500-$10k over market value to even consider buying used from Tesla and that's not hyperbole. It's that bad.
 
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AMPd

Active Member
Nov 27, 2012
4,519
3,888
Northern California
As a previous p90d owner myself I’d say stay away from it. Either spend a little more and get a 100 battery or wait until the price on them drops further.
 

cookie99

Member
Mar 14, 2016
911
456
California
its gonna be hard to know what options are on it if you arent savvy with it. take detailed pictures all around the car, including touchscreen settings especially the autopilot screen, and we can tell you what options the car has
 

Maryland

Member
Jul 30, 2020
54
53
Maryland
I didn't know the P90D had such a bad reputation for reliability. Might have to consider other options. Was considering a new model Y.

+1

Read the horror stories on buying used from Tesla. Pay attention to only those within the last two years or so as previous experiences basically don't reflect what the Tesla used program has become. I'd need to save $7,500-$10k over market value to even consider buying used from Tesla and that's not hyperbole. It's that bad.
Could you give some examples? Or an example story? It's not that I don't believe you; it's just that any search I do might yield confirmation bias. Like when I search "Tesla Model S P90D problems/issues," it's just giving me examples of problems, which might only tell half the story. And most of the "reliability reports" read like paid advertisements.

That said, I am not buying certified pre-owned from Tesla. It's a Mercedes dealer selling one of their trade-ins. At $47k, it's about $6-8k less than the average market value in my estimation (and in KBB's estimation). Like, when I look for P90D's on various used car websites, the absolute cheapest are going for ~50k (with high miles, title issues, and/or few options), while most of them are in the $55-60k range. So it seems like a good deal if the car isn't a total lemon.

As a previous p90d owner myself I’d say stay away from it. Either spend a little more and get a 100 battery or wait until the price on them drops further.
What's wrong with P90D's? What have you experienced? Or what issues have you seen others report?

The car will protect its battery and not let it get to the unrecoverably dead point. I would go back and take a good look at it once they charge it.
They couldn't even open the door, presumably because it was totally dead. Even after sitting for weeks, it would be able to protect the battery from dying completely? If true, this would help ease my concerns about damage being done to the battery. Is it possible the 12v battery died but the Li-ion is fine?
 

BlindPass

Member
Jul 23, 2020
536
369
Florida
@Maryland throttled supercharging and artificial degradation by Tesla. Toward the end of my ownership the road trips were super annoying when the charging maxed out at 86kw.
Analogous to apple making older phones “slower” to force people to buy new?

Oh, the joys of technology. I like EVs, and Tesla’s overall impact on the industry, but they’re bad at customer service.
 
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Physicslawyer

Member
Feb 19, 2020
110
71
NY/PA
I have also been looking at a used 90D. I was going to drive the 2+ hours to the dealer, and it occurred to me to ask to see if the car was charged. I had already been driving for a half hour and pulled over to call. The car was dead. Apparently, it needed a 12v. This was for a few year old car with under 30k miles. Eventually they called me back and said it was working. I asked them to charge it and let me know what full charge was reading. They never did this. There were multiple hidden fees that I happened to find.

Trying to find one of these cars has been a challenge.
 
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cookie99

Member
Mar 14, 2016
911
456
California
I have also been looking at a used 90D. I was going to drive the 2+ hours to the dealer, and it occurred to me to ask to see if the car was charged. I had already been driving for a half hour and pulled over to call. The car was dead. Apparently, it needed a 12v. This was for a few year old car with under 30k miles. Eventually they called me back and said it was working. I asked them to charge it and let me know what full charge was reading. They never did this. There were multiple hidden fees that I happened to find.

Trying to find one of these cars has been a challenge.

yep. traditional dealers are not set up to be able to sell the teslas... they dont have time to tend to the batteries that require constant babysitting when this is 1-2 cars out of their lot of 100 when the other 98 cars in their lot doesn't require doing this. best way is to purchase from a private owner but private owners seem to value their car more than the actual price that these small dealers have. the other one is to purchase from tesla which can be nice with the additional 4 year warranty.
 
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Physicslawyer

Member
Feb 19, 2020
110
71
NY/PA
The Tesla warranty is a major selling point. They remove supercharging though. I drive 600 miles per week for my commute and we put 50k per year on the car I commute with (currently a 2017 Prius Prime with about 150k, but we still have the 2007 Prius with almost 500k miles).
 

Ostrichsak

Active Member
Sep 6, 2018
3,503
3,546
Colorado, USA
The Tesla warranty is a major selling point. They remove supercharging though. I drive 600 miles per week for my commute and we put 50k per year on the car I commute with (currently a 2017 Prius Prime with about 150k, but we still have the 2007 Prius with almost 500k miles).
So find a used private party seller selling a car with FUSC/premium data free and still has a warranty or bought the ESA before the bumper-to-bumper expired. Narrows your search window but you'll get what you want/need rather than having more to choose from but wishing you had looked more.
 

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