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

Reliability of older Model S?

de_cuev

Member
Mar 30, 2021
11
2
Fremont
Hi All,

New here (first post) and after reading through this thread, I am a bit worried about buying an older used model S. I've been in the market for a month or so now and have my eyes on a 2012 Signature Model S with less than 20k miles. It has no warranty remaining. Is the battery issue a big risk in this situation, or any other major issues to look out for with a model this old?
Sorry if this is in the wrong thread, if so can someone please direct me to the best thread for answers.

Thanks, happy to be part of the community!
 

aerodyne

Active Member
Nov 19, 2018
2,743
2,788
Los Angeles
Hi All,

New here (first post) and after reading through this thread, I am a bit worried about buying an older used model S. I've been in the market for a month or so now and have my eyes on a 2012 Signature Model S with less than 20k miles. It has no warranty remaining. Is the battery issue a big risk in this situation, or any other major issues to look out for with a model this old?
Sorry if this is in the wrong thread, if so can someone please direct me to the best thread for answers.

Thanks, happy to be part of the community!
With any used car, need to do your research.

There is a risk, but the price is low enough you could afford to replace the battery.

Most of the non battery issues are probably fixed by now.

If your rated range is within 10% or less of new, I'd say it is a good risk.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: SmartElectric

AmpedRealtor

Well-Known Member
Jun 30, 2013
6,396
3,365
Phoenix, AZ
Hi All,

New here (first post) and after reading through this thread, I am a bit worried about buying an older used model S. I've been in the market for a month or so now and have my eyes on a 2012 Signature Model S with less than 20k miles. It has no warranty remaining. Is the battery issue a big risk in this situation, or any other major issues to look out for with a model this old?
Sorry if this is in the wrong thread, if so can someone please direct me to the best thread for answers.

Thanks, happy to be part of the community!
I've owned a Model S since 2013. Take my advice: Run, run like hell away from an out-of-warranty Tesla. That includes Model 3 and Model Y, which have a much reduced battery and drive unit warranty than S/X. Tesla lies about low maintenance costs because it doesn't tell you a new battery will set you back $20k and a new drive unit (i've had 5 replacements under warranty) will set you back $10k-$12k.

If the car you are buying needs either of these items—which is highly likely over the next few years—you will essentially have a repair that costs more than the vehicle is worth. This is The Big Tesla Lie that nobody is talking about.

I'd rather drive a Prius.
 

Rocky_H

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2015
6,401
7,547
Boise, ID
I've owned a Model S since 2013.
Exactly. I have a different perspective on this than you do. You are treating this as if all of Teslas cars will always have all of these same problems forever. I don't see it that way. I very definitely would not want to own a 2012 or 2013 car at this point. That was their first year and a half of attempting to figure out how to build a production line car. They noticeably had a lot of problems with those. They made a lot of progress after that point, and mine is a March 2014 car that has had relatively few problems. I would not hesitate to keep a Model 3 or Y out of warranty, because they have figured out and learned from a lot of those early failure mechanisms.
 

krishna3812

Member
Jan 7, 2021
33
14
Newyork
I've owned a Model S since 2013. Take my advice: Run, run like hell away from an out-of-warranty Tesla. That includes Model 3 and Model Y, which have a much reduced battery and drive unit warranty than S/X. Tesla lies about low maintenance costs because it doesn't tell you a new battery will set you back $20k and a new drive unit (i've had 5 replacements under warranty) will set you back $10k-$12k.

If the car you are buying needs either of these items—which is highly likely over the next few years—you will essentially have a repair that costs more than the vehicle is worth. This is The Big Tesla Lie that nobody is talking about.

I'd rather drive a Prius.
Is it possible for you to give last 2 versions of motor's you have in your car? Just so we can understand when did tesla resolved motor issues finally....
 

pabla

Member
Oct 17, 2016
282
149
Vancouver
I owned a 2014 P85 for 6 years 120k kms, and had the extended warranty (thankfully). If the previous owner had the major components already replaced ie battery, drive unit, MCU, pano sunroof than you should be in good shape. If not then I would be worried, my experience with my 2014 P85 was constant trips to the service center to get anything and everything fixed. Drive unit, battery heater, parking brake, full pano rebuilt, screen bubbling and much more. I definitely wouldn't recommend an older Model S unless it has had those major components already replaced, or its under extended warranty.
 
  • Like
Reactions: InternetDude

AMPd

Active Member
Nov 27, 2012
4,509
3,838
Northern California
I disagree with this. A car with less than 20k miles has not seen a lot of driving. This means that it may very well still be on the original drive motor, pyro fuse, etc...
Not to mention it’s most likely still on the original battery which is very unreliable.

Im assuming the seller is not just going to give the car away, in their mind low miles = great buy. So unless you’re buying it for somewhere in the teens price range, I’d stay away from it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: cwerdna

de_cuev

Member
Mar 30, 2021
11
2
Fremont
Thanks for creating a new thread for this mods, sorry for hijacking the other one.

Thank you all for the help and replies as well!
I've decided to go forward looking for an older model 2015+ making sure it has some warranty left.

If anybody was just curious about more of the specifics of the car I was looking at:

2012 Signature Model S
16K miles
Everything was original with no warranty left
$30K

Seems l dodged a bullet as it would've been my everyday car

Thanks again yall!
 

No2DinosaurFuel

Active Member
Apr 16, 2015
1,394
738
San Diego, California
Here is my recommendation. Do you research on battery and motor replacement. There are plenty of information here on this forum. Search the old and new thread.. Obviously this will be a big purchase and I hope you would take the time to do the research as oppose to reading a few comments here. There are people on both sides (people who own TSLA and those who don't) who will steer you one way or another for their own interest and not yours. I would be super wary for people with a lot of likes or new users. The ones with a lot likes are probabaly just sucking up to anything to get a lot of likes. The new users are probably just people who what to short or pump the stock.

That being said, there are a few threads you can read up which is a recent development because of the warranty just going out for the cars you are looking at. From my analysis and my own experience of my model s here are a couple of things to know.

1) older 2012 model s are pretty hard to self service. 12V/cabin filter replacement is much hard than it should be are some examples. This is mainly due to tesla putting things together last minute to avoid going bankrupt in 2012. The newer model s 2015 and newer are much better thought out in terms of serviceability. There is alot of things you can do yourself on the newer model s.

2) battery will be a hugh issue IMO. Recent threads (plural) have it quoted at $20K for a new 85Kwh pack or $15K for a remanufactured pack. And more if you want the 100Kwh pack assuming it fits in your car and they offer it to you. And without warranty, you will be on the hook for it. So if you were to buy, know this is a possibility, a high one IMO, because battery wear is cause not just usage but also time. And if this is the original pack, it has for sure seen 8-9 years of time even if it was lightly used. And know if 1 out of the 7000 cells or so fails in the 85Kwh pack, your whole battery is dead. That is all it takes. Read the other threads about alternative fixes for the battery problem, but IMO none really fix the issue and you can have the problem again.

3) motor and drive train. Again look at the threads on issues for model s, but the older model s had a lot of motor drive unit issues. If it was fixed on the model s you are looking at, then it shouldn't be much of an issue later to you. Again it probably has to do with tesla just putting things together hastily in 2012 to get the product out and had a lot of bugs in hardware and software drive train. The risk for you is usually this problem comes up in hard acceleration and if the car wasn't used much, it might have not seen a lot of hard acceleration to cause the issue for the previous own to replace for free before the warranty expired. Something to keep in mind.

4) minor issues here and there again attributed with older model s. The newer model s seems to be better put together using higher quality and lesson learned from the older cars so it is much more reliable in terms of small issues. Again since the car you are looking at has low mileage, the previous owner hasn't gotten enough usage to flush out all the issues during warranty period. It will be expensive to repair because tesla servicing isn't cheap. There are online videos to fix someone someone stuff yourself so there that.

Personally given all my research up to date, I wouldn't touch the older model s due to all the risks and potential reapir cost down the road with an out of warranty car. Now if you were to say I can buy the car for less than $10K then maybe I'll think about it. Anymore, I'm out. That being said, I have very low tolerance for risk hence why I need it to be lower than $10K for me to even think about taking on that risk. You might have a higher tolerance for risk and decide I'll take the chance. Everyone is different here.

Best of luck on your research and decision.
 

AMPd

Active Member
Nov 27, 2012
4,509
3,838
Northern California
Thanks for creating a new thread for this mods, sorry for hijacking the other one.

Thank you all for the help and replies as well!
I've decided to go forward looking for an older model 2015+ making sure it has some warranty left.

If anybody was just curious about more of the specifics of the car I was looking at:

2012 Signature Model S
16K miles
Everything was original with no warranty left
$30K

Seems l dodged a bullet as it would've been my everyday car

Thanks again yall!
You definitely dodged a bullet at $30k. It’s unfortunate from the owners perspective but it is what it is, there’s simply not enough alternatives to having the battery replaced at a reasonable cost.
 

dannycamps

Member
Apr 8, 2019
703
633
Northeast USA
It does make you wonder why the price of the battery has not come down much in the last 8 years. You'd think that economies of scale would have an impact by now.

To the OP, mid-2015 and later would be a good place to start looking. Most important would be the fact that the battery/drive unit warranty is still in effect.
 

AMPd

Active Member
Nov 27, 2012
4,509
3,838
Northern California
Never own a model S out of warranty. You’d be better off buying an older Mercedes out of warranty because at least you’d get great service 🤔😁
And hundreds of shops that can work on it.
It does make you wonder why the price of the battery has not come down much in the last 8 years. You'd think that economies of scale would have an impact by now.

To the OP, mid-2015 and later would be a good place to start looking. Most important would be the fact that the battery/drive unit warranty is still in effect.
Because Tesla is not interested in fixing your 8 year old car. They’d rather you buy a new car from them.
 

henderrj

Member
Jun 16, 2014
984
809
Graham, WA, United States
Never own a model S out of warranty. You’d be better off buying an older Mercedes out of warranty because at least you’d get great service 🤔😁

I've owned four different mercedes, and never had good service from a Mercedes dealer yet. Independent guys, yes. Mercedes, never!

the thing about Tesla service is it's great once you get in there. It's the getting in there, and the communication, it'll cause you to wish someone else made cars as good as Tesla's!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rocky_H

amiral_sub

Member
Sep 20, 2019
133
88
Bordeaux, France
I agree that we all know that up to 2015 all model S had battery and drive unit failures. But if your battery and your drive unit have been replaced, they seem to be now reliable. Other things can fail but not so expensive. In my opinion the big risk is the battery, as No2DinosaurFuel wrote if one of the 7000 cells fail the battery pack is dead. This is a bad engineering (but is it possible to easily do an other way?). How ever a man in germany drives and drives all the time his model S and the last DU and battery do not have any more failures for a lot of miles!
 

zwede

2013 P85+
Jan 17, 2014
636
331
Plano, TX
I've owned a July-2013 P85+ since January 2014 (ex-demo car). Warranty expired 2018 as I didn't get the extended warranty. It's low mileage, I only have 34K on it.

Since then my repairs have been:

  • Update rear toe links to new design to fix loose feeling in rear suspension. Parts cost $200, did work myself.
  • Replace driver's door window regulator. Parts $240, did work myself.

Battery charges to 229 miles @ 90%. Been awhile since I charged to 100%, it was 255 miles I think.

So my sample size of one suggests a well cared for, low mileage, older Tesla is extremely reliable and cheap to own. YMMV.
 

davidc18

Active Member
Apr 25, 2015
1,830
1,235
Ft. Lauderdale
I don't know if Tesla still leases the Model S but if you want to drive a Tesla long term I am beginning to think that leasing works out to be less expensive. I'm on my 3rd Model S now. I've been out of warranty for some time now. I just rebuilt the rear air struts which had leaky bottom gaskets due to corrosion on the shock struts. No other issues.

PXL_20210301_151914812.jpg

PXL_20210307_124813365.jpg
 

KOL2000

Member
Apr 30, 2013
229
187
San Diego
My extended warranty comes to an end in a few days. We've had so many adventures, some posted in this forum, with this car. I drive the loaners, some of which are faster, but I love my P+. Pretty much every component except sheet metal has been replaced. Just upgraded to MCU2 and simply waiting for Elon to decide that a $150k car should have the option to open the roof. Until then I'll keep driving my antique Tesla with fingers crossed that the battery doesnt fail (there's nothing left to break and it was already replaced at the 20k mile mark).
 

Greg63

Member
Jan 10, 2021
37
35
NC
Reading this thread sounds so doom and gloom! I purchased a 2013 with 150k on it without hesitation. Sure there is the possibility of some expensive repairs down the road but replacing the battery and/or the drive unit is far less expensive than buying new, which I can't afford. Plus at 150k the problem parts have already been replaced and if they haven't been replaced then the ones in this car turned out not to be problem parts. I would actually be more concerned about buying a low mileage MS that's at the end of the warranty period. BTW, my 2013 wasn't sold to the first owner until the summer of 2014 so I still have some warranty left.
 

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