So I just got my 2014 CPO Model S and I thought I'd share my experience on the CPO process and even some of my thoughts before taking the plunge. I’ll give you a warning right now, this is a very long post. During my wait I never really felt like I ever had a good understanding of how the buying process worked and all the existing posts about it didn't provide enough information. In the end I found that all my questions were not easy to answer so I hope that this post covers everything you can imagine when it comes to buying a CPO from Tesla. Before buying - Figure out your price, what you want, and what to do with your current car A year or so ago I test drove a P90D. After the test I said to myself I absolutely have to own a Model S, somehow, someway. I really am not a huge fan of the Model 3, the lack of a gauge cluster and the protruding touch screen really turns me off. Now I’m not rich, I make a decent amount but I also live in one of the most expensive areas in the country, Northern Virginia. When I heard Tesla was selling CPOs, I started looking at what was available. The only way I could make it work, based on the prices I was seeing, was if I took the plunge immediately and didn’t wait...here’s why and what you need to do if you're considering buying one. Figure out if you’re going to trade-in or sell your vehicle. I was driving a 2014 Mazda 6 GT, fully loaded. The KBB trade-in was rated as high as $14k and as low as $10k. Luckily I owed less than $7k on it, so I’d make something off it. A lot of people have negative equity on their cars. My car was in excellent condition, so I figured I was closer to the $14k trade-in value, which is why I couldn’t wait. For all I knew, 6 months down the road my Mazda could be worth $5k. If I went private sale I figured I could probably get $16-$18k for it, but timing is huge for me. In NoVa we have to pay a yearly car tax, so I couldn’t really manage to either not have a car for potentially a month nor could I have 2 cars for an unknown period of time. So I decided to take the loss for the convenience of trade-in. I went into the Tesla store before even looking in depth at CPOs and got an estimate for my car. Tesla offered me $12k. Now something to know is that Tesla only gives estimates at this stage. They actually auction your vehicle off to a network of bidders and give you the highest bid. $12k was their estimate, but it could be a lot less. I also found out they match CarMax appraisals. So I took it to CarMax and they offered $13k. I was hoping for $14k, but for the convenience, I decided to go that route. For my Mazda, I paid $397/month, but I paid $500/month to get a little ahead on the payments. Based on rough back of the napkin math, I figured I could comfortably go as high as $700/month (but prefer to keep it low), considering insurance will go up, and car tax will be insane. And by comfortable I mean it won’t affect my way of life just to own a Tesla. I actually called my insurance company and got a rough estimate on how much it’d increase. Based on everything I knew I used a used car loan estimator tool, assumed an average interest rate for used car loans (~4+%) and just tweaked the amount financed until I hit a monthly figure that I liked. I determined I could finance around $40k and be happy. Something to keep in mind is I’m fairly young and I have a great credit score, but my only credit is my student loans, which I have already paid off. Some older folks can probably expect better APRs, but I kept my expectations low due to my small amount of credit. I decided, with financing $40k, getting ~$6k for my trade-in, I’d be happy to put down $8k or so with down payment. Bringing my max cost to $54k with shipping and sales tax. Now another thing to keep in mind is that Tesla REQUIRES a minimum 10% down payment on all CPOs. Having a max price is really important to determine before you start looking, especially if you’re not very well off. It’ll help curb temptations to make a bad decision, but anything cheaper than it is a pleasant surprise. Next, you need to decide what features you absolutely must have, what you’d like to have but could sacrifice, and what you don’t want at all. For me, I didn’t like any of the colors other than red and I really really wanted the panoramic sunroof. I also live in an apartment so I’d have to rely on level 2 chargers and superchargers, so I absolutely had to get a model with free supercharging; so those were my musts. I’d love to have autopilot, but I didn’t need it, and the only thing I decided I really didn’t want was a smaller battery or higher mileage. A quick note about the mileage. High mileage doesn’t really mean too much for a Tesla, according to recent studies, a Tesla battery should last 25 years or 500,000 miles before you’re at ~85% capacity remaining. But, the warranty on higher mileage CPOs is not great. What I noticed is that once you get about 40-50k miles, the CPOs come with a 2 year 100,000 mile warranty rather than the 4 year 50,000 mile warranty. This 2 year warranty, for me, was a no go. I drive on average 9-10k miles a year. 2 years to cover 50k miles is not possible. The 4 year warranty is better because it’s 50k miles on top of the existing mileage, the 100,000 mile warranty is total odometer miles. The 4 year is a better deal in the end for me. I put 37k miles on my Mazda over 4 years. Once you have those musts, the love to haves, and the don’t wants, you can start searching. My approach to searching was to find only models with my musts, anything on top of that was a bonus. If the prices were low enough I could start migrating nice to haves into the musts category and get an awesome car. How to find your Model S First of all, don’t use Tesla’s website. Tesla’s website filters regionally, so it may only show you a few models available. But before we get into it, you should establish a relationship with your local CPO agent. This helped me a lot. Before I even started looking I went to the Tesla store. CPO agents don’t work on the weekends and I went in on a Saturday. I spoke with a new inventory sales associate and got the business card for the CPO agent at that store. I followed up via email with my CPO agent and spoke to him multiple times over the phone. By the time I started looking he knew my name and was ready to serve me. From what I’ve read, some CPO agents are not proactive, so you really need to be constantly communicating with them. At this point you know your price and what you want. Use a website like Teslahunt.com. They are great because they scour all regions available and show you all Tesla’s available for sale all across the country. I originally used ev-cpo.com and Teslainventory.com, but I quickly jumped ship. Ev-cpo has some great filter options, but they don’t update frequently enough, so much so that I missed some great deals (more on that later). If you go to Teslahunt.com, you can start hunting for a Model S to fit your needs. TeslaInventory is also pretty good, it’s very slow and often their numbers are wrong (it once said a Tesla was $47k, but on Tesla’s site it was $53k), but you can view pricing history, which is amazing for deciding when to execute the purchase. The Model S I bought started at $60k, and every 2-3 days the price dropped by a few thousand. When I bought it, it was $53,500. What you need to do is if you see these price drops, figure out how low it has to go before someone else will jump on it. What I discovered is that there were a number of 60 kwh models available, with 40-60k miles, no sunroof, no upgrades, none in red, that were going on average (at the time) for $55-60k. The fact that I found a red one, with everything I wanted, including some extra upgrades, and an 85 kwh battery for $53k meant I had to jump on it immediately. It was actually $55k and I decided to sleep on it, since it was more than I wanted to spend, but the next morning I woke up and the price dropped. I determined the price would not go down again before it disappeared for good. But your experience may be different. Before I got that model, I tried to buy another one. It was the last chick remaining at the bar model. The one that had nothing I wanted, but was so cheap I had to be insane not to try. It was brown with a 60 kwh battery and 78k miles. But it was $37k. After my trade-in and down payment I figured my monthly payment could be somewhere around $300/month. I called my CPO agent and he said it was listed 5 minutes ago and certainly wouldn’t last long at that price. Now I found this on Teslahunt.com. It wasn’t yet on ev-cpo. I immediately hit buy and filled out the form to place my $1,000 deposit. It was loading….and bam, it was gone. Someone else already got it within the 5 minutes it was listed. This really showed me I could not hesitate. I needed to lay out everything I wanted before making a decision and not waiver. I checked ev-cpo throughout the day. It showed up about an hour after it sold and stayed on the website until the next day. That’s insane! Do you know how many people probably tried buying that and failed? One last point, your CPO agent can see different inventory than you. They don’t list models that have been in accidents on their website. If for some reason you want one, they can give you info on those cars. Starting the process - Put down a deposit Once you’ve figured out the model you want to buy, you will need to enter your zip code on the Tesla listing to calculate shipping costs. Sometimes it’s free and Tesla will allow you to pickup and drive it home when it’s far away. Mine was in Chicago, so it said shipping was $2k. So with the price of the vehicle and shipping I was already over my budget. But it was too good of a deal to pass up and it only had 25k miles. I’m glad I didn’t pass it either, within the week the number of available CPOs dropped from 143 to 47. They are going faster than they are being traded in. Anyway, with sales tax, shipping, and the deposit (though that goes towards the vehicle price) I was looking at around $58k. Car tax would also be close to $2k a year. After you put down the deposit, you will be prompted to fill out a loan application. Do NOT do it! Even if you want to finance through Tesla, don’t do it. This is why you need to talk to a CPO agent before doing anything. He advised me of this before I even started looking. It is a hard credit inquiry and it’s only good for 30 days. Many people wait 60 days before getting their car. After that, I didn’t wait for my CPO agent to contact me, I reached out to him via email. You should do the same. Since he already knew me, I told him I bought one and was very excited, no introductions needed. Within an hour I got a call from him and he told me that it’s been removed from inventory and is scheduled for inspection in Chicago. Now I didn’t get much more information at this point, but basically the vehicle goes through an inspection and Tesla will replace anything that is not up to their standards. Many people get brand new Tesla’s by the end of it all; I certainly did. Also, Tesla doesn’t stock old parts like traditional car companies, if your 2014 Model S needs a new motor, you get a brand new motor off the production line. No compromises whatsoever, they even do body work if needed. This is why it can take forever. Some people get models that need very little work and get them within a week or two, and some people get models with a lot of work and it takes months. There is no way to determine how long it will take before buying since Tesla does not inspect the vehicles until a deposit has been placed on it. The deposit is also NOT refundable, but you can transfer it to another vehicle within some time frame (I think it’s like 2-3 days) Anyway, I received a confirmation email from Tesla saying they received my deposit and to login to my new tesla account. Once there, there is a checklist of stuff you need to fill out. You can really only do a few of these at this point. The 6 items are: apply for financing provide trade-in information provide drivers license photos and info provide insurance info (for the Tesla, not just proof you have insurance) vehicle registration (happens automatically after you apply for financing) pickup preferences. My CPO agent told me to wait 1-2 weeks before applying for financing so all I did was uploaded my driver’s license and added my pickup preferences. Waiting At this point you need to prepare for a roller coaster of emotions. You will not hear anything for a while. A lot of people complain about this. It isn’t transparent, but there isn’t much for them to tell you anyway. They aren’t going to give you a daily update on how the refurbishment is going. In fact, Tesla is losing money on almost all CPO purchases according to the latest earnings reports, so they don’t have to give the best customer service at this point. So I tried my very best to be patient. Take this time to research everything possible about your new car to keep your appetite satisfied and write down any questions to ask on delivery day. Also try to resist refreshing your email every 20 minutes (I couldn’t). I waited 2 weeks before reaching out to my CPO agent again concerning status. During that 2 week period I did ask a number of other process related questions, but nothing pertaining to my vehicle. When I asked about the car he told me it was moving along smoothly and expects to do delivery around mid-march. It was the beginning of the second week in March so I started getting very excited. He also said it was a good time to start applying for financing. Financing I applied through Tesla as that would be the most convenient option. The application would not submit in Chrome, so use Firefox. I did have some issues with the application. Initially it said the cost of the vehicle was $97k...the original value of the car; and to make it worse the box was greyed out. I reached out to Tesla via my CPO agent and within a day or two the application was corrected. The application also asks for the percentage you will be putting down. This annoyed me the most because I’m trying to figure in my trade-in value as well and there was no way to just say how much I wanted to finance. So I did the math and put in 24% to include my estimated trade-in value. After I submitted it I got an email confirmation. Within 2 hours I got an email from my credit monitoring saying TD Bank inquired on my credit, and within another hour I got an email from Tesla Financing. I got approved and got a 4% APR through TD, not Alliant. I had no choice in the lender and Tesla said that was the only option. I also got a detailed cost breakdown and found out shipping was only $1k, so yay on the discount! I thought the APR was *sugar* (and some people probably get better rates through their credit unions or whatever), but according to many websites 4% is considered amazing for a 72 month loan on a used car, especially at the value of the car. I did inquire directly via Alliant and USAA, but TD was the best option. My cost breakdown ending up with me paying ~$650/month for a $53,500 car that originally cost $97,000. Not bad by my books. Finishing up the process Within a few days of applying for financing my CPO agent reached out to me and we confirmed my CarMax appraisal and locked in the trade-in value for 30 days or 1,000 miles. I sent him a scanned copy, but I also had to bring the hard copy on delivery day. I also sent them my current car loan information to confirm loan payoff amount. Within a few days of that I saw the trade-in section on the my Tesla portal was updated with a trade-in offer that I had to accept. What's interesting is I reached out to my CPO guy again and he said that I have to accept it on the my Tesla portal even though I already accepted it via email. It sure would have been nice if I knew that since I discovered that a few days before the offer expired. In addition I was curious how the down payment worked since I have USAA and cannot get a certified check easily. He basically told me that they’d upload a final price document on my tesla account before delivery confirming trade-in value, model s value, and my down payment. You can pay with electronic transfer via the website or a check in person. One thing I forgot to mention is once you confirm acceptance of the deposit, you have a confirmed VIN. I went to my insurance and updated my quote with the new VIN and got an accurate cost. At this point I still didn’t have a hard delivery date, so I couldn’t quite finish that step. But the way to do it is, once you have a hard date, call your insurance and have it start on the delivery date and have your previous car end the same date. Mine was flexible and said I could call in and change the dates if my delivery date moved for any reason. Once you have this, you can upload proof of insurance to the my tesla account. All that matters is that they can see the start date is the delivery date and is for the correct VIN. To my knowledge, Tesla will not let you leave the store with your car without proof of insurance (could just be a Virginia thing), but that would be pretty stupid to not have it insured before you pull off the lot. Preparing for delivery I got a call on a Tuesday from Tesla saying my car will be received by them on Thursday and I can pickup on Friday. This was 27 days in. The person who called me was not my CPO guy but now a new person, a delivery specialist. She asked if I had any questions and I had to tell her I haven't even paid yet and still need to put down my down payment electronically. She told me she'd get in contact with my CPO agent. Immediately after this call, I contacted my insurance to get it started on my delivery day and to end my existing insurance at the same time. A few hours later I checked the Tesla portal and found my final offer with down payment ready to be made. But for some reason the car value was wrong….again...it listed it as over $8,000 more expensive than the listed base price when I put down my deposit. It seems like this happens often because right above the price it says if the price is wrong to contact your delivery specialist. In addition to this, my actual financing paperwork, which was posted without any notice, also had the wrong values listed. I emailed my delivery specialist and it was fixed the next day. Once that was all settled I paid my deposit via ACH transfer. Before delivery day I needed to make sure I had my CarMax quote, a copy of my insurance, and my now long list of questions for Tesla. Delivery Day After a long night of no sleep, I was ready for my appointment at 3pm. After I arrived I sat around for about 10 minutes and then was escorted to the back room. There is was, I saw my new car and I really couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked brand new. I walked around and did as much of an inspection as I could before getting eager to drive it. The seats looked like they’ve never been sat in, it had new tires, calipers, rotors, pads, not a single scratch or blemish on anything. The mobile charger was a little beat up but I couldn’t complain since everything else was in mint condition. After doing a quick 5 minute tour of the vehicle and the touchscreen, we signed the remaining documentation and gave them the keys to the Mazda. They drove my new car around front and let me take it home. Wrap-Up To wrap this up. I just want to summarize a few key points. Keep in touch with your CPO agent. From deposit to delivery it took exactly 30 days. Over that period I exchanged 26 emails with my CPO agent and 8 with my delivery specialist. Other than sometimes forgetting to tell me to do stuff, my CPO agent and delivery specialist were great so props to them for caring about their jobs. If I were to do it again, I absolutely would. I would never buy a Tesla from a private seller or dealer just due to the outstanding job they did during refurb and the added warranty from Tesla. Now I’m just waiting on my DMV paperwork to clear so I can order my personalized plates.