Used Tesla Buyers Checklist. Use this when Shopping for a Used Tesla

Used Tesla Buyer’s Checklist

With Electric Cars’ popularity skyrocketing, many of you are in the market to buy used Tesla cars. If so, you’ll want to make sure you know what to look for before making your purchase. In this blog post, I’ve got you covered.

This pre-owned Tesla buyers checklist will help you ensure that you are getting a quality used Tesla rig and that you are not going to run into any big problems down the road.

Keep in mind that a lot of dealers don’t really know a lot about the Tesla cars they are selling so it is important to do your own research and know what to look for while searching for a new (used) Tesla

When inspecting used Tesla vehicles, you’ll want to make sure to check the following list of obvious items first.

Inspect the Outside of the Vehicle

Used Model S
  • The body of the car for any damage or scratches
  • The tires for wear and tear
  • The brake rotors for any signs of wear or damage
  • The brake pads for heavy wearing or metal-to-metal rotor contact
  • The headlights and taillights for any cracks or damage

Inspect the Inside of the Vehicle

Inside of a used Model Y

Once you’ve done a thorough inspection of the outside of the car, it’s time to move on to the inside. When checking the inside of a used Tesla, you’ll want to make sure to look at:

Determine The Car’s Included Features.

Tesla has Software and Hardware that you will need to check to understand what features are available and what features are active.


Open the Driver’s Door and sitting in the driver’s seat, you will see a large touchscreen in the center of the dash.

There is also a display on the instrument panel directly in front of the driver’s dash. Check and see that all features are visible and working on both screens.

Model Y Main Screen
  • Tap the picture of the car on the menu on the touch screen, on the bottom left-hand side of the screen
  • When the menu opens, touch the SOFTWARE menu choice. A picture of the car appears, with the VIN number, miles on the odometer, and vehicle type. “Dual Motor” on this screen WITHOUT a red underline is a Long Range / AWD vehicle. Dual motor WITH a red underline is a Performance Model


Start the car and look at the center console. There you will see a variety of buttons and switches. You will want to make sure all features are included in the car and that all switches and buttons are working correctly.

  • While on this screen, tap the “Additional information” link to get more information about the vehicle (such as whether it has the Full Self Driving computer” which is known here as “Hardware 1” or “HW1 Hardware 2” or “HW2″, Hardware 2.5” or “HW2.5 Hardware 3” or “HW3.
  • Also, look at the upgrades and determine if the car has premium connectivity which is cellular data available as a subscription monthly and premium connectivity yearly.

Depending on what HW version you have will give you a good idea of what features you may upgrade to in the future.

Check The Vehicle’s History.

One of the most important things you can do when buying a used Tesla is to check the vehicle’s history. This will give you a good idea of the car’s overall condition and how well it has been taken care of. You can check the vehicle’s history by:


The biggest area of concern for most buyers of a used Tesla is going to be the condition of the battery. How quickly a battery degrades can depend on a number of different factors, but for most owners, it shouldn’t be a problem for years.

Most Models tend to lose around 5% of range at 80,000 km (50,000 miles) and around 7 to 8% of range at around 240,000 km (150,000 miles). Some cars will experience more battery degradation than others, so make sure you check this when you inspect any of their used cars.

90 kWh Battery Issues

There has been some talk about the 90 kWh battery pack showing some rapid degradation that quickly levels off. Some owners have also reported that the maximum supercharging speed on their Model S 90d cars has dropped by about 10% since when purchased new.

This seems to have only affected a select few early Model S 90d cars, but it is a good idea to keep this in the back of your mind when inspecting one.

Additionally, we recommended that you ask the owner if they have noticed any rapid degradation or drop in supercharging speed (many sellers won’t be 100% honest with you).

Problems With Cars Produced Before Mid 2016 (Especially 85 kWh models)

The models with the biggest battery issues are those fitted with 85 kWh battery packs, however, this issue can also apply to all models produced before mid-2016. In 2019 Tesla reduced the maximum charge level of these 85 kWh models which ultimately reduced the range as well.

Suspension and Steering

When you’re buying a Tesla Model S, 3, X, Y, it’s vital to inspect the suspension and steering components for wear and tear, as well as any damage. If something goes wrong here, it might be really costly to repair.

Here is a list of things to look for while examining or test-driving Tesla-used vehicles.

  • Uneven tire wear
  • Excessive tire bounce after hitting a bump
  • Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut
  • Sagging or uneven suspension.
  • Knocking or creaking sounds during a test drive are often a problem with the steering rack or bushes
  • Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
  • Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration
  • Tipping during turns
  • High-speed instability
  • Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel (could indicate alignment issues or failed ball joints)
  • Juddering on a full lock or hard acceleration especially true on older model X

TLDR? Download the Checklist

Look at the Carfax report

This used car report will show you any accidents or damage the car has been involved in, as well as any previous owners

Contacting the Tesla service center

The Tesla service center can tell you about any recalls or software updates that have been done on the car

  • The seats for any signs of wear or damage
  • The dashboard and inserts for any cracks or damage
  • The steering wheel for any signs of wear or damage
  • The floor mats for any signs of wear or damage
  • The center console for any signs of wear or damage

Checking the vehicle’s VIN number

You can use a website like vinwiki, to find out information about the car, such as its manufacture date, where it was built, and any recalls that may have been issued

Look For The Tesla “Certificate of Electrical Safety”.

When buying a used Tesla, you’ll want to make sure to ask for the “Certificate of Electrical Safety”. This is a document that shows that the car has been inspected and is in good condition electrically.

Once you have a good understanding of the Tesla you’re wanting to purchase, it’s time for the final steps:

Get a pre-purchase inspection.

This is an important step, as it will allow a qualified technician to look over the car and give you a report on its condition. This report can help you negotiate a better price or help you decide if a used Tesla is right for you.

Purchase Tesla Insurance.

Tesla offers insurance that is specific to their cars and covers things like damage from a collision, theft, and more. This insurance can be expensive, but it’s worth considering if you’re purchasing a used Tesla.

Transfer the car’s ownership registration.

The final step in purchasing a used Tesla is transferring the car’s registration to your name. This can be done through the Tesla website.

The previous owner will need to sign out of the Tesla app and the new owner will need to sign in. The new owner will then receive a notification that the car is available for transfer and can begin the process.

The new owner will need to provide their driver’s license, registration, proof of insurance, and contact information. Once these are verified, the new owner will be able to take possession of the car. The previous owner will receive a notification that the car has been transferred and will be able to close their account. The process of transferring a Tesla is relatively simple.

Things to do once you take the car home.

Update the firmware.

Tesla regularly releases updates to their firmware that can include new features, improve performance, and address any issues that have been found. You can update your firmware by going to Tesla’s website and entering your car’s unique identifier (VIN number).

Register your car with Tesla.

Registering your Tesla allows you to track its location, receive updates about the car’s health, and more. You can register your car on Tesla’s website.

Tesla offers a wide variety of features that come with their cars, and it’s important to understand what each one does before making a purchase. By following these steps, you’ll be able to buy a used Tesla with confidence.

Must have aftermarket accessories:

  • Window tinting to keep the interior cool in the summer and reduce glare
  • A sunshade for the front windshield to keep the dashboard from heating up
  • Touch-up paint to keep the car looking new
  • A Tesla Plus membership for access to exclusive events, deals, and more.
  • Ceramic Coating or a sealant for the paint
  • PPF to prevent from road debris contacting the paint

Charging the car

When buying a used Tesla, it’s important to know how to charge it. All Teslas come with a charging cable that can be plugged into any standard outlet.

The Model S and X also come with an adapter for plugging into a higher-voltage outlet known as a Tesla Wall Connector. This is recommended if you plan to charge your Tesla at home, as it will charge the car twice as fast as a standard outlet.

In addition to the charging cable, you’ll also need a Tesla keycard to activate the charging process. The keycard comes with every new Tesla and can be used to authorize access to the vehicle’s charging ports. You can also use the keycard to track charging progress and set charging schedules.

Finally, you’ll need to create a Tesla account to access the vehicle’s charging history and other settings. This can be done on the company’s website or through the Tesla mobile app. Once your account is set up, you can start charging your Tesla!

Warranty and Service

When buying a used Tesla, it’s important to know the warranty and service coverage. All Teslas come with a four-year, 50,000-mile limited warranty that covers the vehicle’s main components, including the drivetrain, battery, and electrical system.

The warranty also includes free roadside assistance for four years or until the vehicle has driven 50,000 miles.

Tesla’s service plan is also important to consider when buying a used Tesla. The company offers two service plans: the Standard Service Plan and the Extended Service Plan. The Standard Service Plan covers the first four years or 50,000 miles of vehicle ownership, while the Extended Service Plan covers up to eight years or 125,000 miles.

Both service plans include a variety of services, such as annual inspections, software updates, and unlimited roadside assistance. They also include free rental cars when your Tesla is in for service.

It’s important to note that the Standard Service Plan and Extended Service Plan are only available to the original owners of the vehicle. If you’re buying a used Tesla, the previous owner’s service plan will no longer be valid.

Used Model X


When buying a used Tesla, it’s important to know what to look for. By following these steps and a checklist, you’ll be able to buy a car with confidence and understand the features that come with it.

Tesla offers a wide variety of features, so it’s important to understand what each one does before making a purchase. In addition, it’s important to know about the warranty and service plans that come with the car.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page and site for future reference, certain features, and similar technologies updates, and feel free to share this browser tab with your Facebook groups, garaged-obsessed friends, and family members who may be looking to transform or upgrade their garages.

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Download the Checklist

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