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Reliability between years & trims/battery sizes?

JoeInGA

New Member
Feb 21, 2019
4
0
Atlanta, GA
Hello all,
I am currently in a market for a used Model S and I figured I'd ask this question as I didn't see any similar threads on it. I am looking at getting a used MS between years of 2014 to 2016, somewhat set by my budget. I've tried to look for the "unicorns" late 2016 with AP HW 2.0 but that quickly puts me outside of my budget, based on AP HW1 and HW2 differences (from this spreadsheet) I think AP HW1 will be sufficient for me. Being a techie I sure wish I could spring for the HW2 to take advantage of future advancements and feature of AP3 but it will most likely be a no go for me.

So I have narrowed down my choice to years of 2014-2016, AP HW1, battery between 70-85. These years I feel are still young enough and not beat up too bad, the battery sizes are pretty close in range and sufficient for me (90 pushes me out of the budget). Obviously closer to '16 I'll have some warranty left but I know that I am buying a used car, so taking that risk with the lower price.

To the main question, is there one year vs the other that is more reliable than the others (2014/2015/2016)? In any of those years, any one particular model to stay away from (absolutely no way stay away ) or look for (semi-unicorn) when it comes to battery sizes (70/75/80)?

Thanks all
Joe
 

evalst2018

Member
Dec 3, 2018
238
189
san diego
Generally if you bought a car with the next gen seats, that had the late 2014 revision and fixed a lot of the problems. The 2016.2 refresh adds about $10k to the cost and generally you lose supercharging, unless you can find June/16- early '17. I would stick with a late 15/16 dual motor car, 70d/85d/90d. The difference between a 70d-90d in same cases is only $5k.
 
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shred86

Member
Dec 18, 2018
244
222
USA
Personally, I would not buy a used Tesla unless it's a "CPO" from Tesla. There's really nothing certified about it, but you do get a 4 year/50k mile warranty from when you take delivery. I purchased a "CPO" a few months ago and as frustrating as the process was, I would still do it again. The reason I think the warranty is so important is because Tesla's are expensive to repair and there's still known reliability issues. Even little things like replacing door handles can add up to thousands of dollars if they're being replaced multiple times. If you look around any of these forums, you'll see issues with the suspension, drive units, screens, etc. being replaced. There's some that will argue owning a Tesla has only cost them X amount out of pocket, but sometimes fail to disclose the amount of stuff that was repaired under warranty which often adds up to several thousand dollars. This is not to bash on Tesla, which you'll find folks can sometimes become very defensive if you suggest Tesla's aren't perfect, but just the reality of a new company making revolutionary products. They've obviously come a very long way but the fact still remains, they're expensive to repair and some of the parts appear to be fairly prone to failure. I think as we start to see more owners driving Tesla's outside of the warranty, we'll start to see more gripes and complaints about the cost of owning a Tesla without a warranty.

As far as model years, Tesla's doesn't follow the traditional method of implementing new features/changes with new model year vehicles. They're basically implemented on a monthly basis which you can see a history of the changes here. The newer the build year, the more of those fixes/changes that will be implemented. My target was for a late build 2015 or early 2016 as it met my price point for the battery size I wanted (85 kWh). The late 2015 models also allow you to have the add-on security system installed (early 2015 and prior models are not compatible).

You'll find several complaints from early 90D owners about faster than normal battery degradation. It looks like it's gotten better with newer versions of the 90 kWh battery pack, but the 2015's come with the first generation battery pack so it's something to consider. Tesla doesn't replace batteries for degradation, only battery failure. I decided the slight extra range wasn't worth the potential to be stuck with a battery that degrades faster than the average. However, resell value will probably be better with the 90D simply because it's a bigger battery pack, so something to consider. That being said, I would still recommend getting the largest battery pack (with the 90D considerations above) even if you don't plan on commuting far. You'll be able to charge it to a lower state of charge and have less charge cycles over time resulting in less battery degradation in the long term. I think the 85 kWh is a great choice if it's within your price range.

Finally, definitely think about the options you want. I won't go over everything I considered but here's two that ended up being different than what I expected:

  • Standard textile vs next gen seats in the 2015 Model S. I read a lot of mixed reviews on both. I almost bought a Model S with standard textile seats but the one I ended up getting has the next gen leather seats. When my car was at the service center for some due bill repairs, they gave me a 2016 Model S with the textile seats. I was very happy I went with the next gen leather seats. I find them to be more comfortable, much better bolster support and look a lot better. This will obviously depend on your height/weight but I'd say if you're in the 150-180lbs region, average build, the next gen seats will fit you just fine. Otherwise, I could see it being a tight fit for bigger folks.
  • High def audio. I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I do appreciate a decent sound system. I ended up deciding to go with the standard audio system but after hearing the high def audio, there's definitely a noticeable difference with clarity and bass which obviously makes sense. It's one of those things that I was thinking to myself driving the loaner, "it would be nice if I had this upgraded audio system", but it's not something I would have paid more for (year, mileage and condition were more important to me). Let's just say I would have been happier if my car had it. :)
Anyways, sorry for the lengthy post but I just recently went through this process so I figured I'd share since I'm sure there's a lot of folks looking at used Tesla's. They're definitely awesome cars and I can't see myself going back to an ICE vehicle.
 
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JoeInGA

New Member
Feb 21, 2019
4
0
Atlanta, GA
I would stick with a late 15/16 dual motor car,
Any specific reason for the dual motor suggestion? I know that they have a slight range improvement (10 extra miles on 70/75 and 5 miles on a 85)? I assume that the drive will be probably a little better (better grip) but no speed racer here, so that's not a huge deal for me.

@shred86 thank you so much for the detailed post, it helps me a bunch. You have definitely given me something to think about in regards to the warranty. While searching through the posts I haven't seen too many post in regards to out of warranty repairs but I guess those cars might have not hit that period yet, as you mentioned. I looked at the CPO cars and they for sure are attractive due to the warranty but they also jump up in price by about $3-4k.

My thinking was if I get a 2016, from a non-Tesla dealer, I still would have about a year of warranty and hopefully all of the broken items would be covered for that year. In my eyes if they haven't broken in that time, they probably won't unless I abuse them, but my luck they will after typing this haha.
 

evalst2018

Member
Dec 3, 2018
238
189
san diego
I would opt for a dual motor, as 1. on used cars the cost difference is generally not too much... a couple thousand. Better grip and handling, especially if you live in a cold climate. 3. If you don't get one, every time you see one on the road, you will have "badge envy" 4. Your car will be closer to what current technology is at for minimal difference.

Overall...on the cpo site you see 2013/14 MS 60 going for low-mid 30's...If you can go up 6-10k..you can get 85d or 90d...the depreciation on these higher cars is much more. 85d/90ds were going for $100-110k new, depending on the options. They are selling for low-mid 40's now.
 
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JoeInGA

New Member
Feb 21, 2019
4
0
Atlanta, GA
@evalst2018 the dual motor, is it simply two of the same motor or totally different motors? I ask as you mentioned "closer to what current technology is" so I wasn't sure what that exeactly meant.

Thanks
 

shred86

Member
Dec 18, 2018
244
222
USA
My thinking was if I get a 2016, from a non-Tesla dealer, I still would have about a year of warranty and hopefully all of the broken items would be covered for that year. In my eyes if they haven't broken in that time, they probably won't unless I abuse them, but my luck they will after typing this haha.

I had that same thought actually as I was considering buying from a 3rd party dealer, but some of the issues seem to be reoccurring such as the door handles. There’s some guys on here that have gone through 3-4+ sets of door handles. That alone is going to be thousands of dollars. The screen also seems very questionable with either yellowing around the edges, bubbling or fluid leaking. Really if anything needs to be replaced, it’s definitely going to cost a bit. Again, my personal opinion only but I’d rather have the “CPO” warranty and give up some features. Unless it’s recently changed, any of the used vehicles on Tesla’s site with less than 50k have the 4 year/50k mile. Those with >50k come with a 2 year warranty (don’t know the mileage). Just something to be aware of (I’d obviously recommend the 4 year warranty).

That being said, I’ve had no issues with my 2015 85D (knock on wood) so far and I asked the service center about the service history. The person I was working with said the vehicle had only been in for service once for a 12V battery and that’s it, so it seems like it’s held up well (43k miles when I took delivery). I probably just jinxed myself...
 

vickh

Active Member
Dec 16, 2018
3,149
709
az
Pre-dict-Web3.png



Any reason (other CR being fickle) why does model year make such a difference in CR ratings? Esp. since Tesla makes so many changes in a Model year. I'd be curious if these owner surveys were done prior to upgrades?

12 Models Lose CR Recommendation Over Car Reliability Issues
 

biotour

Member
Jan 17, 2019
57
49
sf bay area
Obviously we all have to take consumer reports recommendations with a grain of salt. Especially after the contradictory reporting today stating they no longer recommend the model 3, yet it's got the highest owner satisfaction rating of any car..
 

evalst2018

Member
Dec 3, 2018
238
189
san diego
Obviously we all have to take consumer reports recommendations with a grain of salt. Especially after the contradictory reporting today stating they no longer recommend the model 3, yet it's got the highest owner satisfaction rating of any car..

Whether you buy a 3,S,X in my opinion these are all early adopter cars, betas. These are all gen 1 products, they don’t have the engineering and manufacturing history to perfect the product. But the dna of the company is still amazing.
 
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Super Dude

Member
Mar 9, 2018
50
26
Philadelphia
No matter whether you buy a CPO or a used, not from a dealer, you NEED a multi year warranty. Tesla is not a high quality car and they vary substantially from vehicle to vehicle and when they were built during the year, ie. quality is lower at the end of a quarter and year due to the manufacturing rushes. So if you're buying non-CPO used, factor in another $4500 or so for the cost of an extended warranty. I'm personally using it enough in the first two months to have recouped my costs already.
 

No2DinosaurFuel

Active Member
Apr 16, 2015
1,407
860
San Diego, California
After researching heavily on the forums about reliability, I would stick with 2016 or newer. The earlier years tesla was still working out the kinks. Not that you cant get lucky and get one that never have issues, but to reduce your chance of major issues, i would stick with 2016 or newer. But again that is my research after reading heavily on this forum before I got my car.
 

SoCal Buzz

Early Adopter
Supporting Member
Oct 9, 2018
513
432
Orange County, CA, USA
Great, fact-filled posts by @shRed. I agree with most points, except the need to purchase CPO directly from Tesla. While I would not purchase from a 3rd party dealer under any circumstances (given likely $5K premium; same as with Tesla CPO), I think it's worth considering a single-owner, private party sale. If you can see the car in person, inspect the paint / finish, and spend time with owner to understand maintenance completed to date, you can get a great car with some remaining warranty if under 50K miles (along with 8-year, unlimited on power train). The most expensive, more "common" failures seem to be the screens and internal chargers, so you can check repair history on those. Even if one of those fails out of warranty, you are still in the $2500 range to fix. Door handles can often be repaired for $200.

I like the upside of extended warranty with Tesla CPO as well (you will pay for it), but downside could be condition of exterior / interior and ability to know exactly what you are getting.
 

nativespinner

Member
May 28, 2018
161
77
Tulsa, OK
There is another option to get a CPO vehicle. I found a private owner on onlyusedtesla with a CPO Model S. The warranty is good till March 2021 and 98k miles. Since it was a private sale the CPO warranty transferred with no fee and no haggling with Tesla. It's a 2013 and was in great condition. I've had a couple minor issues fixed by service center and mobile ranger at no cost.
 

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