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Should I Buy a Used 2013-2014 Tesla Model S?

Is a used 2013 or even used 2014 Tesla Model S worth it in 2021 and the years to come? I’m needing a new car in a bad way and I am in the position that I don’t like any other car except Tesla. In other words I have fallen in love with them. As a teacher/coach this isn’t the easiest task to accomplish with our pay, haha. I know I can get an older Model S (even cheaper than a used Model 3 I am discovering) for around $27,000. So, is it worth it? How many miles is too many? What are things I need to look for? How many miles can I expect on a charge with one this old?

Thank you in advance!
 
I would look at finding a Model 3 in your price range instead of going for a Model S. The reason is the technology in the car. Think of all Tesla's as computers on wheels... there comes a point when the electronics are so out of date compared to the current stuff that it is either no longer supported, or so slow that it's unusable or both. In the case of the Model S, the oldest you can go to still be "current" with the latest stuff is 2016 after the refresh because they have the 8 cameras and the option to upgrade to MCU2 (at a price of course) which will put it on par with the current cars. Yes, you can upgrade older cars to MCU2 also, but you only get a fraction of the functionality without the 8 cameras of the current cars. All Model 3's have the 8 cameras and will function like the current cars for much longer. Even the 2016 Models S's will likely be left behind when the Plaid versions come out with the horizontal screen. I would NOT buy a pre-2016 Model, as that will be left even further behind.
 
I would look at finding a Model 3 in your price range instead of going for a Model S. The reason is the technology in the car. Think of all Tesla's as computers on wheels... there comes a point when the electronics are so out of date compared to the current stuff that it is either no longer supported, or so slow that it's unusable or both. In the case of the Model S, the oldest you can go to still be "current" with the latest stuff is 2016 after the refresh because they have the 8 cameras and the option to upgrade to MCU2 (at a price of course) which will put it on par with the current cars. Yes, you can upgrade older cars to MCU2 also, but you only get a fraction of the functionality without the 8 cameras of the current cars. All Model 3's have the 8 cameras and will function like the current cars for much longer. Even the 2016 Models S's will likely be left behind when the Plaid versions come out with the horizontal screen. I would NOT buy a pre-2016 Model, as that will be left even further behind.
That’s been the plan to find a Model 3 around that price mark. It is seeming impossible however, haha. I do agree with the electronics and them slowing down I hadn’t thought much about that.
 

AMPd

Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2012
5,008
5,334
Northern California
You definitely do not want a 2013 or a 2014, not because the technology is old but rather the warranty on the most expensive part of the vehicle is coming to an end.

I know many do not like to hear this but at this time these vehicles really are throwaways after the warranty period.
Let’s say you buy a used 2013 for 30k, in a year the battery fails, you’re now stuck with a 20k+ bill to repair your expensive paperweight.
It wouldn’t be this way if the battery didn’t cost so much but it does.
 
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You definitely do not want a 2013 or a 2014, not because the technology is old but rather the warranty on the most expensive part of the vehicle is coming to an end.

I know many do not like to hear this but at this time these vehicles really are throwaways after the warranty period.
Let’s say you buy a used 2013 for 30k, in a year the battery fails, you’re now stuck with a 20k+ bill to repair your expensive paperweight.
It wouldn’t be this way if the battery didn’t cost so much but it does.
Well, there definitely goes my plan. I guess I’m continue the hunt for a Model 3 in the ~$27,000 which I know is going to be impossible.😂 Thank you for that information.
 

Greg63

Member
Jan 10, 2021
51
51
NC
Listen to the naysayers with a grain of salt, a big grain of salt. There is some wisdom in what they're saying but their overall advice to simply not consider an out of warranty Tesla is WRONG! To say they're throw away cars after the warranty runs out is foolish. If that's the case then when your warranty runs out let me know and I'll come take the car off your hands!!! Of course they're the ones trying to get $30k for their out of warranty model S. If you want the latest greatest updates and tech then get a newer one. If you want to experience a wonderful EV but can't afford $40k plus then the older model S is a fantastic option, but it's not for everyone.

I would not purchase a pre-2015 with low miles. This is counter to what you'd normally look for in a used vehicle but a low mileage older model S has a greater risk of needing the battery or drive unit replaced because it probably still has the original equipment. With low mileage the original equipment hasn't been sufficiently used to know if it's faulty. A high mileage S would have had the problem parts replaced and if not, then they weren't problem parts to begin with. My 2013 model S has 150k on it and has had the drive unit replaced but it still has the original battery which has only lost about 10-11% capacity. Electric motors last a long time and batteries can be reconditioned which can greatly extend their usefulness. Gruber can take that $20k battery replacement down to a $5k repair. All electric motors can be rebuilt. I'm sure someone will step in to fill that need. The main problem with the drive unit is the bearings and coolant leaking. Both of those problems can be fixed.

$27k for a 2012-2014 is too much. I've seen them in the low 20's which is much more reasonable. Mine was even less. I don't need AP or FSD and if I had it I would hardly ever have the need for it. Yes I'm missing other very nice features but the newer vehicles are simply out of my price range, so for me, it's accept a few less features in order to get to drive a model S! I love this one. I've wanted a model S for a long time. It is so much fun to drive.

I do have unlimited free supercharging which really isn't a big deal but it's nice to have. I also have lifetime 4g data which is really nice. I upgraded my MCU in order to take full advantage of the free premium connectivity.

I drive less than 10k/yr so it'll take me more than 5 years to get to 200k and EVs can last much longer than that! Even if you drive a lot a 100k mile plus model S still has a LOT of life left in it. I'm getting 30+ miles for $1 of electricity so it's much cheaper than gas. I know I'll have repairs that I'll have to pay for but at the price I paid for my model S I'll accept that cost because I get to drive a model S! Insurance is much less on an older model S.

Don't let the doom and gloom naysayers scare you away from an older model S. Let them spend $50k on one with a warranty while you get a $20k model S. That $30k difference can more than pay for any repairs that might come up and if your battery does need replacing (not common) you can have it repaired or sell your car for at least half of what you paid for it. You'll loose less money over the life of you car than the person that buys a $50k vehicle with a warranty.

Don't give up on getting a model S. The model S is much nicer than the model 3. Use the battery and drive unit cost along with the expiring warranty as bargaining chips to get the price you want. That potential cost of repairs makes the older model S worth $20k, not $30k. The value of all non-Japan luxury cars drops like a rock after the warranty expires and it's because of the cost of repairs.

Stay away from a low mileage model S unless the drive unit was replaced after 2015, ceramic bearings vs steel. I'd also be weary of a low mileage original battery. It also seems like the 90 batteries degrade more than quickly than the 85's do.
 

Nikxice

Active Member
Oct 31, 2014
1,174
2,020
Hudson, NH
I would look at finding a Model 3 in your price range instead of going for a Model S. The reason is the technology in the car. Think of all Tesla's as computers on wheels... there comes a point when the electronics are so out of date compared to the current stuff that it is either no longer supported, or so slow that it's unusable or both. In the case of the Model S, the oldest you can go to still be "current" with the latest stuff is 2016 after the refresh because they have the 8 cameras and the option to upgrade to MCU2 (at a price of course) which will put it on par with the current cars. Yes, you can upgrade older cars to MCU2 also, but you only get a fraction of the functionality without the 8 cameras of the current cars. All Model 3's have the 8 cameras and will function like the current cars for much longer. Even the 2016 Models S's will likely be left behind when the Plaid versions come out with the horizontal screen. I would NOT buy a pre-2016 Model, as that will be left even further behind.
The OP indicates he needs a car and would love to own a Tesla. I've owned my 2014 Model S since May 2014 and the car still looks and performs like new. Seven years later I haven't missed the 8 cameras, AP, or FSD capability. That'll be coming soon with our purchase of a Model Y. I can only think of 2 things that have slowed down since we first bought our MS. The web browser, which I never use. Also, Superchargering is also a little slower, but not a big deal. Besides, whoever gets our car someday will inherit free SC for life. That small savings could be a big deal to the OP.
I haven't heard of a pre-2016 Model S electronics issue that isn't supported by Tesla. I just read a fraction of the threads here, can you cite a source?
For a fair price, a clean pre-2016 Model S might just be the right vehicle for this shopper.
 

AMPd

Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2012
5,008
5,334
Northern California
Listen to the naysayers with a grain of salt, a big grain of salt. There is some wisdom in what they're saying but their overall advice to simply not consider an out of warranty Tesla is WRONG! To say they're throw away cars after the warranty runs out is foolish. If that's the case then when your warranty runs out let me know and I'll come take the car off your hands!!! Of course they're the ones trying to get $30k for their out of warranty model S. If you want the latest greatest updates and tech then get a newer one. If you want to experience a wonderful EV but can't afford $40k plus then the older model S is a fantastic option, but it's not for everyone.

I would not purchase a pre-2015 with low miles. This is counter to what you'd normally look for in a used vehicle but a low mileage older model S has a greater risk of needing the battery or drive unit replaced because it probably still has the original equipment. With low mileage the original equipment hasn't been sufficiently used to know if it's faulty. A high mileage S would have had the problem parts replaced and if not, then they weren't problem parts to begin with. My 2013 model S has 150k on it and has had the drive unit replaced but it still has the original battery which has only lost about 10-11% capacity. Electric motors last a long time and batteries can be reconditioned which can greatly extend their usefulness. Gruber can take that $20k battery replacement down to a $5k repair. All electric motors can be rebuilt. I'm sure someone will step in to fill that need. The main problem with the drive unit is the bearings and coolant leaking. Both of those problems can be fixed.

$27k for a 2012-2014 is too much. I've seen them in the low 20's which is much more reasonable. Mine was even less. I don't need AP or FSD and if I had it I would hardly ever have the need for it. Yes I'm missing other very nice features but the newer vehicles are simply out of my price range, so for me, it's accept a few less features in order to get to drive a model S! I love this one. I've wanted a model S for a long time. It is so much fun to drive.

I do have unlimited free supercharging which really isn't a big deal but it's nice to have. I also have lifetime 4g data which is really nice. I upgraded my MCU in order to take full advantage of the free premium connectivity.

I drive less than 10k/yr so it'll take me more than 5 years to get to 200k and EVs can last much longer than that! Even if you drive a lot a 100k mile plus model S still has a LOT of life left in it. I'm getting 30+ miles for $1 of electricity so it's much cheaper than gas. I know I'll have repairs that I'll have to pay for but at the price I paid for my model S I'll accept that cost because I get to drive a model S! Insurance is much less on an older model S.

Don't let the doom and gloom naysayers scare you away from an older model S. Let them spend $50k on one with a warranty while you get a $20k model S. That $30k difference can more than pay for any repairs that might come up and if your battery does need replacing (not common) you can have it repaired or sell your car for at least half of what you paid for it. You'll loose less money over the life of you car than the person that buys a $50k vehicle with a warranty.

Don't give up on getting a model S. The model S is much nicer than the model 3. Use the battery and drive unit cost along with the expiring warranty as bargaining chips to get the price you want. That potential cost of repairs makes the older model S worth $20k, not $30k. The value of all non-Japan luxury cars drops like a rock after the warranty expires and it's because of the cost of repairs.

Stay away from a low mileage model S unless the drive unit was replaced after 2015, ceramic bearings vs steel. I'd also be weary of a low mileage original battery. It also seems like the 90 batteries degrade more than quickly than the 85's do.
Sure the 50k model will depreciate more over time if your battery doesn’t fail. If it does then you’ll be losing equal amount.
Also if someone can’t afford a newer model s and are settling for an older one, do you think they’ll comfortably be able to drop 20k+?

Gruber can possibly fix and replace the failed module but also I read a thread here where someone said it’s a temporary fix and the battery will fail again.
If someone was saying they’re stretching to purchase a Mercedes AMG, and they can afford an older 2012-13 model, would you give them the same advice of jumping in head first? Or would you caution them about the potential high price of ownership that they may not be aware of?

I’m not a naysayer, I’m just being realistic. End of the day it’s not my money
 
Tesla over MB every day of the week by a long shot. That's a poor comparison because European luxury cars don't last long at all anymore. They're money pits! Far less can go wrong with a Tesla and Tesla's have proven to be able to last much longer than any European vehicle with fewer problems, although it is a small sample size right now. There were a lot of naysayers when the first Prius came out and they've all been proven wrong about battery life. As a matter of fact the Prius is one of the most reliable cars on the road today and EV's will prove to be even more reliable. Refurbished Prius batteries have a very good track record for reliability. Sure the occasional one doesn't hold up but most do.

You're going to judge Gruber's work based on one person's experience? Or do you pull that out as an example to try and prove a weak argument against an out of warranty Tesla?

I warn people all the time about the cost of ownership of any European vehicle but I jumped at the chance to purchase a 150k mile Tesla.
 
I personally would recommend spending a little extra for a 2015 model year. Not necessarily because of warranty reasons. It's just that there's quite a bit of improvements they made over those two years.

Regarding Gruber, I thank Satan everyday that there's a business like this but I can see some scenarios where this wouldn't work out well. They're great for fixing a pack with a single defect, hopefully the the majority of battery failures. Anything more than that and things get more complicated. If there's water intrusion affecting multiple packs or some kind of flaw in the module production run then you're stuck replacing the whole battery.

I've been watching their videos and they work with Tesla directly. I get the impression that there's been some movement on making the cost and process of replacing a battery more reasonable. So I think there's cause for hope.
 

AustinP

Active Member
Apr 6, 2015
1,515
1,279
Belgium
As an original 2015 S owner, now indeed with high milage (third drive unit, original battery), I can confirm it is a great car to drive. The line does not age. Interior still fine.
On older S, without AP2 or above, like my AP1, the MCU1 is indeed slower but still working fine, and if you fancy it, you can upgrade it and reportedly it feels like a new car altogether.

One must understand that indeed both the battery and drive unit are -today- very expensive costs outside warranty.

Personally, my car is covered until mid 2023. If those prices do not get down significantly by mid 2022, I’ll not take the chance and sell it, either moving to a Y or more probably a recent 100/long range with good warranty.

But this is me.
 
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AMPd

Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2012
5,008
5,334
Northern California
Tesla over MB every day of the week by a long shot. That's a poor comparison because European luxury cars don't last long at all anymore. They're money pits! Far less can go wrong with a Tesla and Tesla's have proven to be able to last much longer than any European vehicle with fewer problems, although it is a small sample size right now. There were a lot of naysayers when the first Prius came out and they've all been proven wrong about battery life. As a matter of fact the Prius is one of the most reliable cars on the road today and EV's will prove to be even more reliable. Refurbished Prius batteries have a very good track record for reliability. Sure the occasional one doesn't hold up but most do.

You're going to judge Gruber's work based on one person's experience? Or do you pull that out as an example to try and prove a weak argument against an out of warranty Tesla?

I warn people all the time about the cost of ownership of any European vehicle but I jumped at the chance to purchase a 150k mile Tesla.
I wasn’t comparing them, if that’s what you understood from that post then it’s no wonder you’re blindly pushing an expensive nearly out of warranty vehicle on someone else, that way you’re not the only one making bad decisions. Have a good day :)
 
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AMPd

Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2012
5,008
5,334
Northern California
I thought most here have reported that a replacement battery pack was about $11k total now, from Tesla?

Can you post where someone said it’s 11k?
 
This is not about Tesla, but as a rule of thumb, do NOT buy an old, out of warranty luxury car that was expensive (say 80+k) when new but now only cost 20 something k. The sweet spot for used luxury cars is 3-6 years old, in terms of price, features, and cost of maintenance/repairs.

I assume you generally keep you cars for a long time. If you were to buy a new car for say 27k, I presume you will keep it for many years so your per year cost is pretty low. However if you buy that old luxury car for 27k, you WILL need to fix something major over your ownership period (probably multiple things). This will increase with age and mileage. The fact is you may end up spending as much, maybe more on the car than if you bought a 3 year old car after adding in the cost of repairs. You most definitely won't be able to drive the car for another 10 years, unlike a new 27k car.
 
Last edited:
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I think one reported that for a refurbished/remanufactured battery, but with discount, so 11k is not the list price.
For a new battery, another one reported 16k, but again with a nice rebate.
I remember the post; think it's 11k after some negotiated discount (for a refurbished battery). However that's the base price on the battery; after all installed + tax it was 14.5k.
 

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