Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

Best Year/Model to Buy Used Model S

GTBrandon

Member
Feb 1, 2021
22
3
Virginia
I'm coming from an M3, and so I'm used to buying used and heavily depreciated luxury cars, especially ones who are prone to possible expensive repairs; but can also be a dream to drive. I'm looking at getting into a Model S for sub $30k, and in doing my searching have seen a large variety of options/updates that come from different years and models of the S.

So my question is: Is there a certain year range to look at in order to avoid certain common issues? Further, if one can survive with the lower range models of the 70, is there any reason to get an 85 in terms of better reliability of the battery packs or being less prone to issues?

I know some of the main issues can be door handles, MCU1's, battery pack failure, drive unit failure, etc. Anything I'm missing there? Also, were any of these issues actually addressed or replaced at a certain time by Tesla in newer models? For example, let's say 2015 should be focused on vs 2014? Also maybe things like control arms after certain millages or model years that might fail prematurely? I'm sure there are other issues so if I'm not listing it here please let me know so I can know what to look out for!

I appreciate all the help and apologize if something like this has already been discussed. I did a quick search and did not find exactly something like this, so I figured starting a thread would be best. Right now I'm thinking a 2015 70rwd might be the best bang-for-buck in terms of reliability issues "fixed", especially if things have already been replaced by the PO. Let me know if I'm wrong!
 

GeorgeSymonds

Member
Mar 16, 2018
987
587
UK
There will be lots of different answers but an early 100D or P100D with free supercharging and FSD, spend a few $ on upgrading the MCU and you won’t be far off the car that’s just finished production. That’s my suggestion.

Tesla have made small changes all the time but things like door handles don’t seem to have been fully resolved, suspension issues if addressed at all would have been much more recently when the air suspension changed etc.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jpk195

GTBrandon

Member
Feb 1, 2021
22
3
Virginia
There will be lots of different answers but an early 100D or P100D with free supercharging and FSD, spend a few $ on upgrading the MCU and you won’t be far off the car that’s just finished production. That’s my suggestion.

Tesla have made small changes all the time but things like door handles don’t seem to have been fully resolved, suspension issues if addressed at all would have been much more recently when the air suspension changed etc.

What's the consensus on getting MCU1 vs 2. I see you can now get it upgraded from 1 to 2 for $1,500 from Tesla? What is so bad atbout the 1, and also is this new NHSTA recall going to upgrade my 1 to a 2 for free anyways?
 

Need

Active Member
Nov 22, 2017
2,896
2,206
SoCal
There will be lots of different answers but an early 100D or P100D with free supercharging and FSD, spend a few $ on upgrading the MCU and you won’t be far off the car that’s just finished production. That’s my suggestion.

I could be wrong, but I think by the time 100D came out (late 2017?), free supercharging was already not transferable to new owner. But I think older 100D is still good though even without free supercharging if the price is low enough. But there is no way those will be sub $30K that OP targeted.

I think for MS to be under $30k, it will be 2013 to 2015 with nose cone /MCU 1/ AP1.
 

jpk195

Member
Sep 15, 2018
63
25
Boston Ma
an early 100D or P100D with free supercharging and FSD, spend a few $ on upgrading the MCU and you won’t be far off the car that’s just finished production.

I’ve been researching and looking for a used S a little over a month, and this is where I’ve landed. Also will be upgrading from a M3, and just can’t see going backwards on range. Cautiously optimistic these will be around in the mid 40k range once prices adjust for the update and now that Tesla is selling preowned cars with just normal autopilot.
 

jjlawyer

Member
Nov 8, 2018
35
20
Los Angeles County, CA
You didnt really provide enough info for a good recommendation, especially how much range you need. It is also hard to know if you are coming from a Tesla model 3 or a BMW M3. Personally I think the sweet spot is a facelift 75D with AP1 that has been or can be uncorked. it will be faster than the M3, has decent range, autopilot, AWD, maybe free supercharging and facelift. Unless you frequently drive 300 road trips, the 230 mi in range will work just fine. Your OP seems to be very concerned with reliability. This is not the car for you if that is your primary concern but many of your listed trouble spots have been fixed by the time of the facelift. Dont worry about the MCU1 as that will likely be fixed with recall, or you can pay for an MCU2.
 
  • Helpful
  • Like
Reactions: IdaX and 2101Guy

Flyguy

Member
Aug 17, 2017
297
171
94062
Almost none of the above suggestions are in the sub 30K range. I have a 2017 S75 RWD that you can find in the sub 40k range, and I would recommend to used buyers. I think a lot of issues worked worked out by mid 2017. I think sub 30k range It’s going to be an earlier model, with no warranty, which I would not recommend.
 
  • Like
Reactions: N8Howell33

GTBrandon

Member
Feb 1, 2021
22
3
Virginia
I’ve been researching and looking for a used S a little over a month, and this is where I’ve landed. Also will be upgrading from a M3, and just can’t see going backwards on range. Cautiously optimistic these will be around in the mid 40k range once prices adjust for the update and now that Tesla is selling preowned cars with just normal autopilot.

What do you mean prices will adjust for the update?
 

GTBrandon

Member
Feb 1, 2021
22
3
Virginia
You didnt really provide enough info for a good recommendation, especially how much range you need. It is also hard to know if you are coming from a Tesla model 3 or a BMW M3. Personally I think the sweet spot is a facelift 75D with AP1 that has been or can be uncorked. it will be faster than the M3, has decent range, autopilot, AWD, maybe free supercharging and facelift. Unless you frequently drive 300 road trips, the 230 mi in range will work just fine. Your OP seems to be very concerned with reliability. This is not the car for you if that is your primary concern but many of your listed trouble spots have been fixed by the time of the facelift. Dont worry about the MCU1 as that will likely be fixed with recall, or you can pay for an MCU2.

My bad, I realize now that M3 is model 3 on here. I'm coming from a BMW M3. I'm not concerned with reliability in terms of I know Tesla's will be expensive for any repairs just like a BMW, and I know Tesla's are known to have lots of random issues. My goal is just to see if there is a sweet spot for a certain minimum year and or battery size in order to avoid any largely known issues.

How do you know if a 75 can be uncorked, it seems to if it was made in 2016?
 

GTBrandon

Member
Feb 1, 2021
22
3
Virginia
Almost none of the above suggestions are in the sub 30K range. I have a 2017 S75 RWD that you can find in the sub 40k range, and I would recommend to used buyers. I think a lot of issues worked worked out by mid 2017. I think sub 30k range It’s going to be an earlier model, with no warranty, which I would not recommend.

I appreciate you actually reading my post in terms of price range lol, obviously a 100d with FSD is nice but not anywhere near $30k. Any main issues you know of that were resolved around 2017? Again trying to nail down if a 14 vs 15 vs 16 vs 17 model year is the best purchase.
 

SoCal Buzz

Supporting Member
Oct 9, 2018
459
362
Orange County, CA, USA
What do you mean prices will adjust for the update?
With rollout of the new interior design and exterior changes, some would speculate that resale prices will drop a bit. While this may be the case for late models (used 2019-20), I'm not sure prices will change on earlier models given value is in battery, range, AP level and other attributes.
 

SoCal Buzz

Supporting Member
Oct 9, 2018
459
362
Orange County, CA, USA
I appreciate you actually reading my post in terms of price range lol, obviously a 100d with FSD is nice but not anywhere near $30k. Any main issues you know of that were resolved around 2017? Again trying to nail down if a 14 vs 15 vs 16 vs 17 model year is the best purchase.
The biggest change in the years you mention relates to switch from 3rd party AP1 to Tesla's proprietary AP2 with surround cameras in late 2016 (see article). Other than that, it's really a matter of battery size and AWD vs. single motor. I'm not positive, but I think with AP2 if you upgrade to MCU2 you will get Sentry mode.

Tesla Autopilot AP1 vs AP2 vs AP3 - Differences Explained - AutoPilot Review.
 
  • Like
Reactions: pilotSteve

galvatron

Member
Mar 15, 2020
118
71
WA
Like everyone else already pointed out, your biggest limiting factor is the sub $30K budget. That will put you out of range of the best "bang for the buck" Model S, which I feel would be the uncorked 75D... but those are generally going for the mid $45K range. Then you need to spend $1500 to upgrade from MCU1 to MCU2, because trust me, you DON'T WANT MCU1. It is basically too slow and unusable in 2021 even if Tesla fixes the memory issue on MCU1.

I'd say increase your budget to $45K ish and get at least the 75D, or just wait longer to save more cash and also for the 75Ds to drop more in price.
 

GeorgeSymonds

Member
Mar 16, 2018
987
587
UK
What's the consensus on getting MCU1 vs 2. I see you can now get it upgraded from 1 to 2 for $1,500 from Tesla? What is so bad atbout the 1, and also is this new NHSTA recall going to upgrade my 1 to a 2 for free anyways?
The NHSTA is just forcing Tesla to upgrade the memory board, the wider performance doesn’t change
The MCU1 is fine for basic stuff especially on AP1 cars. MCU2 is much more powerful and gives more features on the Tesla AP cars.

I could be wrong, but I think by the time 100D came out (late 2017?).

The 100 battery arrived in 2016 but you’re right, only P100D got it at that point.

Hadn’t spotted the 30k budget,, not much choice at that price point, look for a good P85 would be my suggestion for RWD fun or you might manage a dual motor car. You can compare Tesla inventory and 3rd party sales in only one place
New and used Tesla cars for sale
 

BlackM3

Member
Nov 2, 2017
158
165
Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, CA
My 2 cents based on owning a Model 3, and driving various Model S and X.
- Smartest is to buy a 2021 Model 3 for $38K and 4-year warranty with autopilot, unless you need this car for long road trips.
- If you want a Tesla for long road trips at 80MPH then best to spend $50K on Long Range Model 3 or used Model S 100D.
- If you really want a cheap Model S, avoid 2012 to mid-2014 because there's no autopilot, and old batteries might charge slow on road trips.
- Late 2014 to mid-2016 S are good cars and have autopilot, I hear the Next-Gen seats are more comfortable than other seats. Nosecone is not the best looking though. If you get coil suspension it might be bumpy as hell, but models with air suspension are an improvement.
- Facelift mid-2016 and newer with air suspension is the best Tesla Model S to buy. Any autopilot version is very good. Old MCU1 computer is terribly slow, but just pay $1500 to upgrade to fast MCU2 in a service appointment.
- I agree with others that 2016 facelift 75D is the best deal because it's fast and cheap. Buy directly from Tesla, look for 0 to 60 time of 4.2 seconds in the listing (uncorked), and Tesla provides a 1-year warranty on the car.
- Test drive older Model S on the Shift website for free.
Good Luck!
 
  • Informative
Reactions: IdaX

JimEG

Member
Jan 25, 2021
14
6
USA
I’m in the market too. Spent a ton of time researching. I’m now focused on the AP1 d cars. Test drove an early ‘16 70d recently and it had enough tech and acceleration for our needs. This is the $30k-$40k range.

Having said that, there are a lot of $20-$25k 12’-14’ cars with new motors and batteries out there. Pre AP, but still Tesla power and handling and with new battery and motor. Seems like this could be a good way to go if you don’t want AP and you have some tech and mechanical expertise.

We did test drive a Model 3 at a Tesla showroom. Fantastic little car. Just not enough room for us and our gear - and no hatchback. It still blows me away that the rocket ship Model S is a hatchback. Sporty AND practical.
 

Flyguy

Member
Aug 17, 2017
297
171
94062
I appreciate you actually reading my post in terms of price range lol, obviously a 100d with FSD is nice but not anywhere near $30k. Any main issues you know of that were resolved around 2017? Again trying to nail down if a 14 vs 15 vs 16 vs 17 model year is the best purchase.
I agree that a 13/14 P85 that has had battery/motor, some door handles, etc. replaced is a good choice. If you want newer tech. My august 30th 2017 S75 is when lots of things became standard, and 0-60 decreased from 5.3s to 4.2s, and AP2.5 installed. Pre- late August/September 2017 S75 RWD cannot be uncorked, only S75D
 
  • Informative
Reactions: rickyjb

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top