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WTB: Model S with Free Supercharging

Zorg

Active Member
Oct 24, 2017
1,652
1,467
Fremont, ca
At that price point, you're probably looking at a high mileage 2013-2014 model that's out of warranty or soon to be. That's a pretty risky bet.
 

nicedrum

Member
Apr 29, 2021
26
4
Boston suburbs - metrowest
I'm in a similar boat as Lefix. Is it really that risky? If the battery fails within the first year, you're going to pay $5-20k for a new/refurb one, correct (depending on Tesla or 3rd party shop)? But the chance of it happening is what, 1/10 (total guess) for that single year? Buying a new Tesla, on the other hand, you're out $40-100k (or say an extra $15k-75k over the quoted used MS price), 100% of the time.

I guess I need to search the forum to see if anyone has math'ed out a spreadsheet of the expected lifetime ownership cost, given current knowledge and estimates. I'm definitely worried about battery replacement cost, and possibly motor cost, but also don't want a car that will depreciate $1k/month.
 
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TwistedGray

Ludicrous > Ludacris
Mar 12, 2021
292
257
Monterey Bay, CA
I'm in a similar boat as Lefix. Is it really that risky? If the battery fails within the first year, you're going to pay $5-20k for a new/refurb one, correct (depending on Tesla or 3rd party shop)? But the chance of it happening is what, 1/10 (total guess) for that single year? Buying a new Tesla, on the other hand, you're out $40-100k (or say an extra $15k-75k over the quoted used MS price), 100% of the time.

I guess I need to search the forum to see if anyone has math'ed out a spreadsheet of the expected lifetime ownership cost, given current knowledge and estimates. I'm definitely worried about battery replacement cost, and possibly motor cost, but also don't want a car that will depreciate $1k/month.
$5k battery is a repair. It's not a new pack...they just isolate the bad cell (?). Anyways, you're just putting on a bandaid. I've also seen anecdotal information suggesting that if you eventually have to replace the pack, which at some point you will, Tesla won't take it. So, you'll have to pay +$15k core fee. Keep that in mind (if it's true).

$22k will get you a new battery with a 4y/50k warranty. You'll end up with a 90kwh pack from the latest revision.

$15k will get you a refurbished battery pack (I forget the warranty, but it's not as generous, from what I recall...one year?). You could go that route, but my thought - in for a penny, in for a pound.

If you can afford a new one then buying one in n warranty is the more expensive albeit safer route. The exception is of the previous owner has documented proof of new battery and/or drive unit. Those are your big ticket repairs.
 

Target

Supporting Member
Apr 9, 2018
527
362
Chicago Land
I will argue that drive units aren't really that big of a deal. While there is some aftermarket demand for drive units, it is fairly small and there is no shortage of S's being torn down every day with drive units being removed. On top of that some of the most common failures can be serviced by a motivated owner. Also so long as the car has a recent enough iteration of the drive unit I wouldn't be as worried about it.

Batteries are an actual challenge, but if you work with someone to upgrade an 85 to a 100KWH pack, then you get the faster Supercharging speed and possibly better performance, in many ways making the car better than a somewhat newer 90 version. Just be aware that there is plenty of OTHER stuff that breaks on these things. Front end work like ball joints are frequent issues, and the rear drive shaft spline regreasing or replacement. Then there are the usual problems, door handles, screens, roof (if you have that), air suspension leaks (if you have that), brakes pads seizing in the calipers. So if you have the cash to not only buy one, but maintain it over the long haul then yes, I can see buying a late 13 or 14 that is completely out of warranty. There will almost certainly come a time when I do exactly that! I could even see shipping it to my favorite aftermarket guy and having him upgrade the pack straight away to a 100KWH.

If you can only afford a 25K car and that is it, then this is just like any other 25K luxury car, probably too expensive to maintain over the long haul. Not saying you can't get lucky on these though. But I wouldn't buy a 25K Mercedes S class and think it will be cheap to live with. These are probably better than an S class, but still, this isn't a Toyota Camry or Avalon.

The current car market is a bit crazy right now. Earlier this year I saw quite a few S's for under your price point. You would probably be wise to wait until next winter when the market generally calms down again and shop then.
 
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Zorg

Active Member
Oct 24, 2017
1,652
1,467
Fremont, ca
I will argue that drive units aren't really that big of a deal. While there is some aftermarket demand for drive units, it is fairly small and there is no shortage of S's being torn down every day with drive units being removed. On top of that some of the most common failures can be serviced by a motivated owner. Also so long as the car has a recent enough iteration of the drive unit I wouldn't be as worried about it.

Batteries are an actual challenge, but if you work with someone to upgrade an 85 to a 100KWH pack, then you get the faster Supercharging speed and possibly better performance, in many ways making the car better than a somewhat newer 90 version. Just be aware that there is plenty of OTHER stuff that breaks on these things. Front end work like ball joints are frequent issues, and the rear drive shaft spline regreasing or replacement. Then there are the usual problems, door handles, screens, roof (if you have that), air suspension leaks (if you have that), brakes pads seizing in the calipers. So if you have the cash to not only buy one, but maintain it over the long haul then yes, I can see buying a late 13 or 14 that is completely out of warranty. There will almost certainly come a time when I do exactly that! I could even see shipping it to my favorite aftermarket guy and having him upgrade the pack straight away to a 100KWH.

If you can only afford a 25K car and that is it, then this is just like any other 25K luxury car, probably too expensive to maintain over the long haul. Not saying you can't get lucky on these though. But I wouldn't buy a 25K Mercedes S class and think it will be cheap to live with. These are probably better than an S class, but still, this isn't a Toyota Camry or Avalon.

The current car market is a bit crazy right now. Earlier this year I saw quite a few S's for under your price point. You would probably be wise to wait until next winter when the market generally calms down again and shop then.

Those DU are a real problem. I had mine fixed on my 2014 S at around 40K miles (from memory) and the next owner had it replaced again at 70-75K. So, unless things got better, they seem to be good for 40K miles top.
 

TwistedGray

Ludicrous > Ludacris
Mar 12, 2021
292
257
Monterey Bay, CA
Those DU are a real problem. I had mine fixed on my 2014 S at around 40K miles (from memory) and the next owner had it replaced again at 70-75K. So, unless things got better, they seem to be good for 40K miles top.

Drive units don't fail every 40k; otherwise, you'd see dozens and dozens of posts. Seems that you've been extremely unlucky :(
 

henderrj

Member
Jun 16, 2014
985
810
Graham, WA, United States
Drive units don't fail every 40k; otherwise, you'd see dozens and dozens of posts. Seems that you've been extremely unlucky :(

True. I'm on my third drive unit but I put more than 150,000 miles on this one. Still going strong. Just had it looked at, no issues.

I'm also still on my first battery, with 236,000 mi. I will admit to being a little nervous. My battery warranty quits December of 2022.
 
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Zorg

Active Member
Oct 24, 2017
1,652
1,467
Fremont, ca
True. I'm on my third drive unit but I put more than 150,000 miles on this one. Still going strong. Just had it looked at, no issues.

I'm also still on my first battery, with 236,000 mi. I will admit to being a little nervous. My battery warranty quits December of 2022.

Curious. What kind of range do you have at 236K?
 

Target

Supporting Member
Apr 9, 2018
527
362
Chicago Land
Those DU are a real problem. I had mine fixed on my 2014 S at around 40K miles (from memory) and the next owner had it replaced again at 70-75K. So, unless things got better, they seem to be good for 40K miles top.
Early days the drive units were huge problems, no question. The have methodically solved the issues and implemented fixes. I wouldn't buy a VERY low mileage car that is now out of warranty for this reason, unless I had confidence that the DU was replaced at some after 2017 or so.

The most common issue I recall seeing was the "milling" sound. This was caused by eddy currents building up voltages in the shaft of the rotor. Those voltages would then discharge through the bearings and pit them. Over time the bearings got bad enough to need replaced. They fixed that issue by putting a brush that rides on that shaft to drain those voltages safely away. The brush manufacturer that makes those brushes makes them for MANY other applications and the brush system should have a very long life. This is just one issue, but it was extremely common, and it should never happen again so long as the unit was refurbished recently enough to have this modification.
 

henderrj

Member
Jun 16, 2014
985
810
Graham, WA, United States
Curious. What kind of range do you have at 236K?

Sometime ago I changed my display to percentage, as it was nowhere near accurate to use the miles. I get about two plus miles per percentage, for an easy 200 miles on any trip. I hardly ever charge to 100%, as the last 5% takes about an hour. Still, it's rare that I can't get a couple hundred miles in between superchargers. I don't do that due to the need for biological breaks! Not so much that other one, the bones get creaky if you sit too long once you're north of 60!

To make some attempt of actually answering your question, it was about 243 rated miles last time I checked.
 

TwistedGray

Ludicrous > Ludacris
Mar 12, 2021
292
257
Monterey Bay, CA
Sometime ago I changed my display to percentage, as it was nowhere near accurate to use the miles. I get about two plus miles per percentage, for an easy 200 miles on any trip. I hardly ever charge to 100%, as the last 5% takes about an hour. Still, it's rare that I can't get a couple hundred miles in between superchargers. I don't do that due to the need for biological breaks! Not so much that other one, the bones get creaky if you sit too long once you're north of 60!

To make some attempt of actually answering your question, it was about 243 rated miles last time I checked.

Even if you have to replace the battery out of pocket ($22k), the amount of life you got out of it will be staggering. Congrats
 

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