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Buying a used Model S...2015 or 2017

S3XYCyber

Member
Jan 22, 2021
14
0
Texas
Hi all! Total novice here! I want to join the Tesla family with a reasonably priced black Model S. Can someone help me with pros/cons of 2015 versus 2017?

If I got the 2015 I’d have warranty to 2023, Unlimited Supercharging, and Autopilot 1. I’d also put a 17-20 style bumper refresh kit on it. ($2k???) After bumper refresh’s $5-8k price difference.

If I got the 2017 I’d have a warranty to 2025, (help me out here) APv2?, and I’d pay $??? for supercharging. Any updates/features that makes 2017 much more superior to 2015?

be gentle please
Thanks in advance
 

beatle

Active Member
Aug 31, 2019
1,036
503
Springfield, VA
Which particular cars are you referring to? Depending on the trim, there could be many differences between them, or just a few.

Free supercharging is not guaranteed on either car.
 
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kosarfan

Member
Nov 29, 2016
89
221
Carmel, IN
2017 will have the newer Autopilot suite for FSD...a 2015 will never be able to be fully autonomous. I believe they started AP 2.5 (autopilot version 2.5 - additional cameras/sensors) in November of 2016. To me, that is a major difference.

My 2017 S90D is great after 112k miles. Might bite on the new refresh though.....I do supercharge a fair amount and will miss the free charging.
 

kwellmey

Member
Sep 21, 2016
88
38
Houston
I just bought a very low mileage, gently used 2017 Model S 100D in late December 2020. I am experiencing the MCU1 freeze, black screen issues discussed extensively on this forum. If you go this route, please know you will likely spend time and money on this issue. If I was is your position, I would skip the MCU1 aim for a Model with the upgraded MCU2.
 

galvatron

Member
Mar 15, 2020
118
71
WA
No brainer... get the 2017 for sure! It has at least autopilot 2.0 with the extra cameras and can be upgraded to the current mcu for $1500 to be almost the same as the current models. That alone is enough to justify the 2017, not to mention the front end refresh of the 2017. 2015 is last generation. Absolutely no brainer.... 2017 all the way.
 

vapor trail

Member
Sep 9, 2015
203
162
Roseville, CA
No brainer... get the 2017 for sure! It has at least autopilot 2.0 with the extra cameras and can be upgraded to the current mcu for $1500 to be almost the same as the current models. That alone is enough to justify the 2017, not to mention the front end refresh of the 2017. 2015 is last generation. Absolutely no brainer.... 2017 all the way.

100% agree.
 
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uspearls

Member
Jun 20, 2020
37
47
San Diego. CA
No brainer... get the 2017 for sure! It has at least autopilot 2.0 with the extra cameras and can be upgraded to the current mcu for $1500 to be almost the same as the current models. That alone is enough to justify the 2017, not to mention the front end refresh of the 2017. 2015 is last generation. Absolutely no brainer.... 2017 all the way.
What he said! I went through a similar analysis as a novice last year....seems like a lifetime ago after 6 months in my 2017 S! I'll just add that you shouldn't worry about the difference between AP2.0 and AP2.5 (which was introduced around August 2017) since both get a free upgrade to AP3.0 if your vehicle comes with "Full Self Driving". The 2.5 version does come with full color side cameras as as opposed to reddish tinted versions, but that's in the "nice to have" category, not "must have" for me. One often overlooked benefit of a post-August 2017 version in my opinion is the redesigned rear seat - more contoured and much more comfortable. Big factor for me with teenagers and planning road trips but you may not care. The MCU2 (the computer driving both screens, infotainment features and driving vizualizations) is a must if you have Full Self Driving or Enhanced Autopilot. The new $1,500 price is a bargain. MCU1 chokes, reboots and is generally a constant reminder of what life used to be like with Microsoft Windows (sorry Microsoft, you scarred many of us). It was introduced in March 2018, so don't pay more than $1,500 more for a 2018 than any 2017 you're looking at, all else equal.

Good luck, none of this will matter after you take your first drive as owner!
 

GeorgeSymonds

Member
Mar 16, 2018
995
600
UK
I just bought a very low mileage, gently used 2017 Model S 100D in late December 2020. I am experiencing the MCU1 freeze, black screen issues discussed extensively on this forum. If you go this route, please know you will likely spend time and money on this issue. If I was is your position, I would skip the MCU1 aim for a Model with the upgraded MCU2.

If you're below 100k miles the MCU is warrantied, a recent software update will start to alert you if its beginning to fail at which point they'll fix it for you. (Hassle, but shouldn't cost you money). You can also spend $1500 or so and upgrade either car to the newer MCU2

The older car had more things as options plus lots of running changes along the way. The link has a list of most of the changes they made and the year they occurred

Tesla model history and changes by year

I'll put the argument for an AP1 car - it works. It doesn't have the potential to do what the HW2+ cars can do, but auto high beam is better, rain sensing wiper works as you'd expect, cruise doesn't phantom brake anywhere near as often as the HW2+ cars. If you're happy with what AP1 does then its a great and reliable system, the later cars are a time of excitement every time there's a software update, but you need at least EAP to match the features of AP1. We are at a point where the newer systems are starting to show real promise, but you'll pay a fair bit more for that.
 
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bmah

Moderator, Model S/X, California Forums
Mar 17, 2015
3,906
7,017
Lafayette, CA, USA
I'll put the argument for an AP1 car - it works. It doesn't have the potential to do what the HW2+ cars can do, but auto high beam is better, rain sensing wiper works as you'd expect, cruise doesn't phantom brake anywhere near as often as the HW2+ cars. If you're happy with what AP1 does then its a great and reliable system, the later cars are a time of excitement every time there's a software update, but you need at least EAP to match the features of AP1. We are at a point where the newer systems are starting to show real promise, but you'll pay a fair bit more for that.

This. AP1 has pretty much reached the limits of its potential, but it's a known quantity and it's actually quite good for what it was designed to do (lane-keeping on freeways).

If looking at 2015 cars, consider that many 85 packs have had their capacity or charging rates capped (look up "batterygate" or "chargegate" here). I think the 90 packs first came out in late 2015, and the early 90 packs had some issues with faster-than-normal degredation. These are not (I think) a factor for 2017 cars.

The cost for Supercharging varies depending on location (and sometimes the time of day). People tend to overestimate the value of free, unlimited Supercharging...if possible consider "investing" in a good home charging setup. Obviously everyone's situation is different.

Minor things: The pre-refresh 2015 cars have slightly larger frunks, probably a more spacious front seat area (due to the open "yacht floor" area between the front seats, but no storage console). The seats will be slightly different. Mid-way through 2015, Tesla switched from 3G radios to LTE radios, this might be an issue as the cellular providers turn down the 3G networks (there's an upgrade available for 3G cars).

As someone said above, comparing the cars is a little difficult due to reorganization of options and options packages.

I wouldn't necessarly say it's a no-brainer as some have indicated. Different people will have different priorities.

Bruce.
 
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S3XYCyber

Member
Jan 22, 2021
14
0
Texas
Thanks for all of the replies!!! I think I will go with a 2016.5 or 2017 with enhanced autopilot. How can I tell if a car has the updated MCU and what are its benefits?
 

TigerNinety

Member
Jun 22, 2016
185
134
Silver Spring, MD
Mid-last year, I bought a very low mileage 2016.5 MS 75D; it's been awesome. I'd looked at pre-2016.5 cars, but decided I wanted the closest thing I could afford that was basically "new" in its appearance and functionality. To me, that meant:
  • updated exterior;
  • FSD-capable (mine came with FSD subscription);
  • updated seats (not the absolute current ones, but better than some previous iterations); and,
  • LTE (vice 3G), rear cupholders, and a few other amenities.
I do think the existing AutoPilot does a very good job on highways, but I think a 2017 would insure that you'd get any improvements that come for the next few years.

Maybe I'm weird, but I still almost drop my jaw walking to my car in the driveway in the morning, and I still greet her when she pops the door handles. I think that might be diminished for me if I were walking up to a pre-refresh version.

Anyway, I know someone has offered a link to feature updates over the years. I hadn't seen that one, but I'll offer this one, too.

Good luck!
 

S3XYCyber

Member
Jan 22, 2021
14
0
Texas
Mid-last year, I bought a very low mileage 2016.5 MS 75D; it's been awesome. I'd looked at pre-2016.5 cars, but decided I wanted the closest thing I could afford that was basically "new" in its appearance and functionality. To me, that meant:
  • updated exterior;
  • FSD-capable (mine came with FSD subscription);
  • updated seats (not the absolute current ones, but better than some previous iterations); and,
  • LTE (vice 3G), rear cupholders, and a few other amenities.
I do think the existing AutoPilot does a very good job on highways, but I think a 2017 would insure that you'd get any improvements that come for the next few years.

Maybe I'm weird, but I still almost drop my jaw walking to my car in the driveway in the morning, and I still greet her when she pops the door handles. I think that might be diminished for me if I were walking up to a pre-refresh version.

Anyway, I know someone has offered a link to feature updates over the years. I hadn't seen that one, but I'll offer this one, too.

Good luck!
Thanks! So I can purchase the FSD to go on top of the enhanced AP? Is it included in the MCU2 that was lowered to $1500?
 

TigerNinety

Member
Jun 22, 2016
185
134
Silver Spring, MD
Thanks for all of the replies!!! I think I will go with a 2016.5 or 2017 with enhanced autopilot. How can I tell if a car has the updated MCU and what are its benefits?

Benefits: everything is much faster in responsiveness (screen button presses, map rendering, etc), avoids a flash memory issue that is currently the subject of an NHTSA recall recommendation (we'll see what Tesla does with that probably this week), enables DashCam for ALL cameras (including rear), enables higher-fidelity display of detected road features with FSD computer, and enables a range of (primarily) entertainment features (gaming).

How can you tell: if you're not actually IN the car and it's pre-2018, you can only ask (sometime in 2018, MCU2 became the default); if you're in the car, touch the car image in the lower right corner of the center display, pick the bottom/"Software" option, pick "Additional vehicle information" under the VIN, and look to see what it says for "Infotainment Processor": if it says Atom it's MCU2, if it says "NVIDIA Tegra", it's MCU1.
 
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2101Guy

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
1,451
1,256
USA
Thanks! So I can purchase the FSD to go on top of the enhanced AP? Is it included in the MCU2 that was lowered to $1500?
No. FSD is a $10k upgrade unless the car has EAP, then its several thousand cheaper to upgrade.

FSD related upgrade costs are totally Separate from MCU 2 upgrade related costs
 
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GeorgeSymonds

Member
Mar 16, 2018
995
600
UK
Thanks for all of the replies!!! I think I will go with a 2016.5 or 2017 with enhanced autopilot. How can I tell if a car has the updated MCU and what are its benefits?

easier to post a link as it also covers suspension, hifi, autopilot, etc

How to find out what options a Tesla has

The benefits of the MCU2 depend on autopilot hardware. Irrespective of version it’s more responsive, has more games, and the web browser works, on HW2+ the visuals get better and things like sentry mode start to record and can be played back, but I think there’s also a relationship with the autopilot hardware version on how good things get in that area. You do lose radio with an MCU upgrade unless you pay extra, although you do have web radio like tunein available.

One thing I’m not sure is if they start making you pay for connectivity which is likely to be free on the older cars. I don’t think they do, but it would be worth checking especially after the price drop in case it’s changed.
 

SO16

Active Member
Feb 25, 2016
2,873
8,933
MI
What he said! I went through a similar analysis as a novice last year....seems like a lifetime ago after 6 months in my 2017 S! I'll just add that you shouldn't worry about the difference between AP2.0 and AP2.5 (which was introduced around August 2017) since both get a free upgrade to AP3.0 if your vehicle comes with "Full Self Driving". The 2.5 version does come with full color side cameras as as opposed to reddish tinted versions, but that's in the "nice to have" category, not "must have" for me. One often overlooked benefit of a post-August 2017 version in my opinion is the redesigned rear seat - more contoured and much more comfortable. Big factor for me with teenagers and planning road trips but you may not care. The MCU2 (the computer driving both screens, infotainment features and driving vizualizations) is a must if you have Full Self Driving or Enhanced Autopilot. The new $1,500 price is a bargain. MCU1 chokes, reboots and is generally a constant reminder of what life used to be like with Microsoft Windows (sorry Microsoft, you scarred many of us). It was introduced in March 2018, so don't pay more than $1,500 more for a 2018 than any 2017 you're looking at, all else equal.

Good luck, none of this will matter after you take your first drive as owner!

And if you really want, you can upgrade the side cameras.
Camera Upgrade – TeslaTap
 
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S3XYCyber

Member
Jan 22, 2021
14
0
Texas
Wow! This is the place for a quick education. I’m definitely staying away from the 2015 because of the lackluster autopilot. So I have narrowed my options down to a 2016.5 Model S 75D AWD with Enhanced Autopilot AP2 MCU1 or a 2016.5 Model S AP3 Full Self Driving/Sentry/MCU2. The MS75 FSD AP3 can be had for $2k more than the MS75D AWD. It is also $2k more than my stated budget. I really wanted AWD but it’s not a dealbreaker. Which should I get? Is FSD really worth the $2k extra and blowing my budget by $2k? I’m gonna pull the trigger tonight or 1st thing AM.
 

2101Guy

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
1,451
1,256
USA
Ap3 and mcu2 puts you at same tech level as 2021. MCU1 sucks compared to mcu2

You 100% sure that one isn’t AWD, too?
 

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