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How are the used 20-25k model S cars?

user212_nr

Active Member
Aug 26, 2019
1,407
748
US
How are the "affordable" Model S cars ie. 2012-14 cars with 128-150k miles?

Reason I'm asking is because I meet a lot of people who would like to get a Tesla, but are more in the 20k range than the 40-60k range.

Obviously, it will have reduced range, but (aside from normal used car problems like tires, brakes) is it going to be a money trap that ends up costing another 5-10k in misc repairs?
 

dannycamps

Member
Apr 8, 2019
736
661
Northeast USA
Obviously, it will have reduced range, but (aside from normal used car problems like tires, brakes) is it going to be a money trap that ends up costing another 5-10k in misc repairs?

There is really not enough empirical data to know for sure. The earliest Model S cars are now first out of the 8-year battery/drive unit warranty so we will have to see how the batteries hold up. Age as well as usage plays a part in degradation. If they last another 10 years than that is really good.

Hopefully Tesla will get the cost of a replacement battery pack down to a manageable figure.
 
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Tiger

Active Member
Oct 31, 2016
1,700
1,265
Estonia
If a Tesla is out of warranty, you can probably safely service it at a non-Tesla service location such as The Electrified Garage and the like. I can only guess that maintenance there is on par with ICE car service. They probably prefer using salvage parts if something breaks etc. whereas Tesla would bill you full price for a new part. Also batteries can sometimes be refurbished at reasonable cost.

Getting into an out-of-warranty car is always more DIY. Some people like it.

If you don't like it, then maybe wait for Tesla to begin making the $25k cars, or used Model 3 prices in similar range, a year or more out.
 

sonofagunn

Member
May 4, 2020
52
47
Florida
Any older car will likely need an MCU replacement sometime soon if it hasn't already been done.

I bought a 2014 and have had to fix one door handle and will, at some point, lay down the $2k for an MCU2 + radio.
 

zer0cool

Member
Apr 26, 2015
508
332
charlotte, nc
Honestly just rule of thumb - if one is only able to afford a car in the 20 something k range, one should not be buying an old, depreciated luxury sedan. People buying 20 something k new cars can expect to spend very little on maintenance and repairs in the first 4-5 years of ownership (assuming normal mileage). However an old luxury sedan is bound to have problems and basically anything breaking will cost a lot to repair.
 

XLR82XS

D M C
Jul 26, 2019
3,148
1,803
SWFL | Vegas
Any older car will likely need an MCU replacement sometime soon if it hasn't already been done.

I bought a 2014 and have had to fix one door handle and will, at some point, lay down the $2k for an MCU2 + radio.
This and the fact that everything wears out over time and/or mileage. A 160K example driven in the salt belt, used for ride share, had 3 kids, etc... is going to have more suspension, trim and other related wear that an example driven in a warmer winter-free environment will not have.

That said, an example with lower miles that has sat idle for a decade is also not ideal. Every car is different.
 

EV-Fixme

Vendor
Supporting Member
Oct 24, 2019
617
702
Orange County, CA
The biggest repair costs are going to be replacing the main battery pack and motor(s). It's not so much the labor cost, but the cost of the parts. Motors and main batteries cost 5k-10k+. That's if you buy new. if you buy used you can obviously save a lot of money depending on where you get the part from. We recently replaced a motor for a customer and we charged about $4k for the motor and labor.

While the motor can and will have catastrophic failure, the battery is likely to just slowly degrade over time. You will get less and less range as the battery degrades. You'll still be able to drive the car, but instead of getting 250 miles, you may only get 230 or 220 miles. My 2012 is on the original battery and I'm still able to get 220 miles on a full charge, down from 250.

The battery and motor are going to be the biggest repair costs, so if you are buying an older used model S, make sure to ask the seller if they have ever had either of those replaced by Tesla. If they just had it replaced a year or two ago, you should be good for a while. You should also ask how many miles it gets on a full charge, and you might even want to see it at full charge to verify. Also, if the car is a 2013 or newer, it may still have some battery/motor warranty left.

Beyond the battery and motor, which are not common problems we see customers in for, there's also the MCU, door handles, window regulators, leaky screens, and failing control arms. These are the most common problems we see, and they can each be fixed for under a grand by us for anyone that wants to come to our shop in SoCal. Door handles and window regulators are the most common and we fix those for $140-170 for door handles and $250 for window regulators.

It all depends on the car and luck too. For my personal car that I've owned for a year and a half, I haven't had to fix any of these problems. The only thing I'm going to do now is fix the inner tire wear problem common on Model S and X cars with air suspension. Don from N2itive N2itive Launches Rear Control Arms for Tesla Models S/X! has developed a fantastic product that we are now stocking that will allow the cars camber to be adjusted so that the inner tires don't wear down much faster than the rest of the tire. We are currently running a special for all 4 rear camber and toe arms to be installed for $1650. That's over $850 off the full retail price!
 

GTBrandon

Member
Feb 1, 2021
22
3
Virginia
Is there a certain year range to avoid, in order to try and find a "reliable used Tesla". I ask because I know some updates were made with the MCU's, door handles, drive units, and battery packs throughout the years. I hear some people say avoid 2012-2014, and see that some changes with items listed above might have been changed in 2015?

Looking like getting into a sub 80k miles 2015 can be done for under $30k, which might be the sweet spot especially if the drive unit, MCU, or battery has already been replaced by the previous owner
 

dannycamps

Member
Apr 8, 2019
736
661
Northeast USA
I think mid-2015 (e.g. 8/15 or newer) is the best of the nosecone models. These have the LTE upgrade, newer seats, revised charging port, revised drive motors, etc...
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,412
11,756
Riverside Co. CA
Honestly just rule of thumb - if one is only able to afford a car in the 20 something k range, one should not be buying an old, depreciated luxury sedan. People buying 20 something k new cars can expect to spend very little on maintenance and repairs in the first 4-5 years of ownership (assuming normal mileage). However an old luxury sedan is bound to have problems and basically anything breaking will cost a lot to repair.

This times 1000.

If the "budget only allows 20k because thats all I can afford" then the correct choice is NEVER (ever), a depreciated high mileage luxury car that costs 20k (tesla, BMW, mercedes, audi, etc).

A person for whom this is the budget is better getting something as new as possible for their budget. The BMW boards are always littered with people who "got a deal" on a 2011 BMW 550 with the V8 motor (for example) and that car / model is the textbook definition of "money pit".. but hey, they got a BMW with a v8 in it!

Now, for the OP, "I have friends that are in the 20k range to purchase a vehicle" is different than someone who can afford to do the maintenance (all old things require maintenance, cars, houses... people, lol). Your friends with the 20k budget are better off buying a new ICE in that range, or if they really want an EV, one of the brands that can be had late model used for that range.

There is a big difference in buying a used car with 30-50k miles on it, than a used car with 125-150k miles on it.. EV or no.
 
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GTBrandon

Member
Feb 1, 2021
22
3
Virginia
I think mid-2015 (e.g. 8/15 or newer) is the best of the nosecone models. These have the LTE upgrade, newer seats, revised charging port, revised drive motors, etc...

Is there any easy way to check the build date of a car, to see if it has the newer drive motors, charging port, etc?

Also, is there a common thread here that lists all of those fixes that mid-2015 models saw? Curious what exactly got fixed on the drive motors, charging ports, etc.
 

David_Cary

Active Member
Dec 17, 2012
1,240
779
Cary, NC
I think mid-2015 (e.g. 8/15 or newer) is the best of the nosecone models. These have the LTE upgrade, newer seats, revised charging port, revised drive motors, etc...

As a 5/2015 owner, I feel left out. I have "next gen seats" - I don't think they got better 8/15 - although they did become standard. There was no revision in drive motors in that time period that I know of. My 2 have 90k and are original and fine. My charging port is fine (and I don't think there was any revision around that time)

Now I did miss LTE by a week or 2. But it sounds like the - nearly required - MCU2 will get me LTE for the same price as anyone else.

So I would say, any car with next gen seats and autopilot and D is a good buy.

As far as cost, mine isn't over $30k I would guess. Way better than a 150k mileage 2013 for $25k for example.
 

ThomasD

Active Member
Nov 22, 2019
1,137
495
Breckenridge Co Ky
If I'm going to spend 25 grand on a vehicle that is not a diesel I'm purchasing a vehicle less than 5years old. Has anyone taken a tesla motor apart and just fixed the part that was bad instead of replacing the whole unit. What is the list of parts that tesla won't sell to anyone?
Parts that if went bad you would have to take it to tesla to get fixed
 

GTBrandon

Member
Feb 1, 2021
22
3
Virginia
As a 5/2015 owner, I feel left out. I have "next gen seats" - I don't think they got better 8/15 - although they did become standard. There was no revision in drive motors in that time period that I know of. My 2 have 90k and are original and fine. My charging port is fine (and I don't think there was any revision around that time)

Now I did miss LTE by a week or 2. But it sounds like the - nearly required - MCU2 will get me LTE for the same price as anyone else.

So I would say, any car with next gen seats and autopilot and D is a good buy.

As far as cost, mine isn't over $30k I would guess. Way better than a 150k mileage 2013 for $25k for example.

Why do you say it should be D? Also your car would be an AP1 autopilot correct? Any comments on AP1 vs 2?
 

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