Owner’s Story: Picking Up A Pre-Owned Tesla Out Of State, Texas To Florida

2 years ago by Dan Zorrilla 38

Pre-Own Tesla Model S Makes A Pit Stop In Lake Charles, Louisian

Pre-Owned Tesla Model S Makes A Pit Stop In Lake Charles, Louisiana

Although Tesla’s Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program does have a few small annoyances, overall the program lives up to the expectations you would have from buying a car from Tesla. Tesla really does care for and pampers its customers whether they are buying a new car or used car. Even though the car that Tesla received may not have met Tesla’s strict CPO standards when they received it, Tesla reconditions its CPO cars to near new condition before selling them.

Editor’s Note:  Our thanks to Dan for this special write-up.  When we heard of his somewhat unusual pending trip out of state to pick up a pre-owned Tesla, we couldn’t help but ask for a blow-by-blow recap of the process

Since Tesla released the Model S, I have wanted one, but there was just no way that I could justify an $800+ per month car payment. However, in October 2015, Tesla released its CPO program, selling used Model S’ with a 4 year/50,000 mile warranty. The problem was that the used cars cost almost as much as the new ones. By December 2015, I began seeing high-mile Model S’ in the mid-40k’s, but most were gone within hours of when they were posted.

During the first week in January 2016, I checked Tesla’s webpage every few hours, but found nothing that met my specs. I did some research and found that some buyers were using ev-cpo.com to keep track of Tesla’s posted CPO’s. So, I signed up for a $10 subscription on the website.

On the websites historical data section, I noticed that two Model S’ sold the first week of January for under $37k that I had not even seen come up on Tesla’s website.

2 listings

On January 12, I finally found a Model S that met my criteria. A pretty well loaded green S85 in Houston. All that Tesla’s website includes are stock photos and not actual pictures of the car.

tesla model s montage

Knowing that the good deals go quickly, I immediately put down the $1,000 non-refundable deposit.

My Tesla Pre-owned Advisor, Sean called me later that evening and informed me that the car wouldn’t be ready for two weeks because it was in the body shop. I was at first apprehensive about buying a used car needing body work, but Sean assured me that they were just repairing some scratches on the hood and a door ding.

I filled out all of the purchase paperwork online. The whole process was straightforward and quick. Even if you read all of the fine print, I can’t imagine that it would take more than 20 minutes to read and sign everything.

I decided to forgo the $1,000 delivery fee and plan an adventure drive back from Houston Texas to Largo Florida on Superchargers. I did my research, figured out the S85’s real world range, and mapped the Superchargers and the hotel I’d stay at along the way.

graph distances

I recruited a friend to take a flight from Orlando to Houston with me and co-pilot the drive back.

I really had no idea what to expect at this point. I hadn’t even seen a picture of the most expensive car I had ever purchased, new or used. Once the car was out of the body shop, my Delivery Specialist, Whitney, sent me some pictures of the car. But, they were only pictures of the exterior of the car inside of a warehouse with poor lighting.

used model s in showroom

I was filled with a little more optimism when I received a 4-page $0.00 invoice from Tesla showing all the work they had done on the car to get it up to Tesla’s CPO standards.

Whitney was extremely helpful and didn’t get annoyed by any of my questions. She was even able to locate me a Tesla cable organizer that was sold out on Tesla’s website and had it waiting for me in Houston.

On Friday, January 22, we were off to Houston. Whitney arranged for an Uber to pick us up at the airport and take us back to the Sales Center.

model s glider in showroonmodel s glider in showroom pic

On the way back to see the car, I took a peak into the Service Center and saw my first glimpse of the new Model X:

Tesla Model X And S - Together At Last

Tesla Model X And S – Together At Last

I signed a couple quick Florida car registration forms and got the tour of my new (to me) car. A Delivery Specialist had me check the car and let him know if there was anything unacceptable. The car was in pristine shape, but the Delivery Specialist noticed some “excessive wear” on the nose cone and put a service order to have it replaced. The interior was flawless and the leather looked brand new.

picking up a model s

We input our New Orleans hotel into the navigation and it automatically located each Supercharger along the way. I had to floor it a couple times just to see what all of the fuss was about. For the second slowest car in Tesla’s fleet, it still snaps you back into your seat and is pretty shocking.

We made it to the first supercharger in Lake Charles, Louisiana without incident and ran into Buffalo Wild Wings for a quick break. My Tesla app told me we only needed to charge for 15 minutes to make it to the Baton Rouge Supercharger.

tesla model s app 1

The Superchargers have no instructions and nothing on them, but a connector. You just plug the car in and walk away.

lake charles louisiana tesla superchargerlake charles louisiana tesla supercharger pic

On the way to Baton Rouge, we decided to cut the heater off because it used too much power. When we got to the Supercharger, we went to the Acme Oyster House to warm up while the car charged. I figured out how to turn the heat on in the car with my Tesla app so that it would be warm using grid power when we got back on the road.

tesla model s app 2

tesla model s on highwayThen, we were off to New Orleans. I had done some research on where to charge in NOLA because there is no Tesla Supercharger there. I found that the Sheraton had a charger, so I booked a room there. When we arrived, I asked where to charge the car.

I was pointed to a standard home outlet. I attached the Tesla, but my app said that we were only charging at 3 miles per hour. With 141 miles to the next Supercharger in Mobile Alabama, that would take 48 hours to get enough power. So, we left and headed to the charger at the Whole Foods down the road. The charge rate there was 13 miles per hour. Better, but we would still need to charge until at least 10AM to make it to the next Supercharger.

When we arrived back at Whole Foods to pick up the car the next morning, the app told me that we had 145 miles range. That was cutting it a little too close to the 141 miles we needed to go. So, we grabbed breakfast at Whole Foods to let the car charge a little longer, then hit the road again.

We inputted my home address into the nav, and it again located all of the Superchargers along the way. Because of our low range, the nav directed us back to the Baton Rouge Supercharger, in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go. Once we realized we were heading the wrong way, we had already used 10 miles of the already tight range we had. We turned around and headed back towards Mobile. The nav kept telling us to turnaround, but we figured that if we drove conservatively, we would make it. I set the cruise control and drafted behind semis whenever possible.

Once we had 10 miles left to go, it was clear that we were going to hit 0 miles remaining before we got to the Supercharger. All of the forums that we checked said that we would have somewhere between 10 to 17 miles of range left, so we thought we probably still had enough power to make it. When we had 6 miles to go, we hit 0 miles remaining.

tesla model s zero range

We made it three more miles, then the car told us it was shutting down and that we should pull over somewhere safe.

tesla model s side of highway

In hindsight there were a lot of things we could have done to avoid this situation. Stupidly, we were messing with the screen and ran the power down so much that the screen shut off. Without the screen, we couldn’t put the car in tow mode to tow it to the Supercharger.

Tesla roadside assistance doesn’t cover stupidity, but AAA sent a tow truck out. I called Tesla tech support to see how we could tow the car if it wasn’t in tow mode. They told me that there were auxiliary battery posts behind the nose cone that would charge enough to turn the screens back on and hopefully put the car it in tow mode.

tesla model s side of higway 2

We got the screens back up, but the car would not let us put it in tow mode. Since we could not get it in tow mode, Tesla told me that we would need to either put the car on skates or a dolly to tow the car. So, we needed a different tow truck with the right equipment.

Once the right truck arrived, we needed to jack the car up to get the dolly on the rear wheels. Tesla explained where the jack points were to the driver so that he would not damage the battery.

tesla model s side of highway tow

Five hours after we ran out of power, we finally got to the Mobile Supercharger that was only three miles away.

mobile tesla supercharger model s

My co-pilot drove from Mobile to Gainesville so that I could nap whenever possible for my solo drive from Gainesville to Largo. I finally arrived home with my Model S at 7:00 AM, slipped her into the garage, and plugged her in.

tesla model s at home

I have owned over 20 new and used cars in my life, and this is hands down the most amazing car I’ve ever owned. It is fast and responsive, completely intuitive, and beautiful inside and out. Everyone that I’ve dealt with at Tesla from the sales people to the tech support has been amazing to work with. Having bought or dealt with CPO vehicles from Ford, Honda, Acura, and Toyota, I can say that Tesla’s CPO program is head and shoulders above any other car company.

Is buying a used EV from Tesla sight unseen a good idea? In a word, absolutely. Although a new Model S is not attainable in the near future, hopefully my amazingly understanding and supportive wife lets me trade my 2013 S85 for a 2015 CPO P90D with Autopilot in a couple years. If she’s lucky, maybe I’ll even let her trade the minivan in for a CPO Model X someday.

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38 responses to "Owner’s Story: Picking Up A Pre-Owned Tesla Out Of State, Texas To Florida"

  1. Jimmy says:

    Nice story. It’s too bad you couldn’t borrow a CHAdeMO adapter from someone in a Florida Tesla group to take with you. You could have used a CHAdeMO charger in New Orleans to get back around 120 miles per hour.

    1. Jim Whitehead says:

      Thanks for your experience from a former comp. sci. engineer. I may buy an 85D CPO car in the next year myself. You confirmed my suspicion that the charging app leaves a lot to be desired. Its cuts stuff too close. Having watched Bjorn Nyland’s youtube videos, (check them out), I learned to always have a buffer for rain, elevation and mishaps, and try to keep charge to 80% or 90%, even if the app says you don’t need it now. For example. Bjorn says weather like rain takes off more mileage than freezing cold, and is not taken into account in the app.

  2. David Murray says:

    Wow.. $37,000 for a Model-S. That’s a pretty good deal, there!

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Note that the two cars under $37k were S60s. That wasn’t the S85 the writer purchased.

      1. bro1999 says:

        Still, that’s crazy cheap for even a 60. Cheapest one I can find on the CPO site right now is $47k.

      2. Dan Zorrilla says:

        Cheapest S85 sold was $53.9k.

        1. Jimmy says:

          We purchased our CPO S85 cheaper than that last July. It has tech, pano, air susp, sound studio, dual charg, and paint armor.

          1. Dan Zorrilla says:

            Me too, but that’s what EV-CPO’s site says. It only updates every 10 minutes, so there have to be cars that fall through the cracks. Also, up until recently, they didn’t track cars that didn’t have a location listed on Tesla’s website.

          2. Dan Zorrilla says:

            Wait, I must have had some search filter I shouldn’t have turned on. The cheapest S85 sold according to the website was $42,500. The website says Tesla has sold ten S85’s for under $50k. With mine included, that’s at least 11.

      3. David Murray says:

        I’d be fine with an S60. I have a 2013 Volt now that rarely uses the gas engine.

        1. Jorey says:

          I wish i was so lucky, i have a 60 miles commute and lots of errands afterwards. My engine is on consistently, im averaging 74 mpg

        2. SparkEV says:

          If you’re already rarely using gas on 37 miles AER Volt, wouldn’t SparkEV (also 4 seats but quicker) make more sense? With the savings, you could buy used van or SUV and some Tesla stocks.

          Then you’d have AER more than your current Volt, utility and room of van for longer trips and Tesla stocks that could pay for the whole thing in the long run. 😉

          1. EVGuy says:

            What is it with you and the Spark EV? You getting kick backs from GM? The spark was a compliance car. Understand what compliance means?

            1. SparkEV says:

              LOL. I wish I get kick backs. I’m no crazier than the guys who held funeral for strict compliance car they never even owned (EV1). At least some can own SparkEV, the first GM EV available for purchase.

              There’s something about GM EV that make some people go nuts. It’s probably because they make kick-ass EV, even their hybrids (Volt). At least so far.

          2. ModernMarvelFan says:

            Compliance such as sparkEV isn’t available in Texas where David lives…

  3. With just 3 miles to go to the Supercharger, I bet a little Honda Generator could have charged you up with 6 miles of range in about 2 hours, and got you on the road faster than the 5 hour delayed dolly tow.

  4. ArkansasVolt says:

    good read! I hope you enjoy your Tesla!

  5. pjwood1 says:

    “0” is definitely not like entry to the red, “empty” zone. Best to treat it like it’s “0”.

    If you cut within a 20 mile buffer on these kinds of trips, be sure to consider elevation changes too.

    Too funny, that you were ultimately played by the update “to end range anxiety”.

  6. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    Another victim of the horrible Trip Planner.
    The safe thing is to select the next Supercharger and then react to what the Trip Planner tells you.

  7. Vexar says:

    When you get to the “yellow” phase of battery charge, do some mental calculations and bring your speed down. It’s amazing the range that any vehicle has when you reduce wind resistance from overall velocity. Also, I really hate the new range nagging in the software update. It clearly didn’t help you. You can turn it mostly off, but to take over the navigation was debilitating. Chargepoint.com would have saved you if you stopped at:
    3689 14th St
    Pascagoula, MS

    Or any number of RV parks. A 1-hour stop would have been ample, even two hours at a 110v outlet would have done it. Next time you travel, consider using:
    http://evtripplanner.com/

  8. bro1999 says:

    I would have probably just ponied up the extra $1k for home delivery. Good read though.

    The fact that some S60’s went for $36k might actually be more interesting though!

    1. SparkEV says:

      Such lack of enthusiasm for adventure! If I get Tesla, first thing would be a drive home the looooooong way. Second would be planning a cross country + Canada trip. It’ll basically mirror my SparkEV experience, except for longer distances.

  9. E-lectric says:

    Enjoy the car!

  10. Benjamin says:

    Good read. Thanks! Very interesting stuff.

  11. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    @Dan Zorrilla:

    Hey, thanks for the report!

    And not to compare Dan to that Broder reporter at the New York Times — I’m confident that Dan’s report, unlike Broder’s, reports what really happened — but both their trip reports show the problems with someone unfamiliar with the Model S driving it on a road trip.

    Dan’s report also shows that Tesla’s claim that the recently upgraded onboard range estimator will “end range anxiety”… is somewhat over-hyped.

    1. Dan Zorrilla says:

      I don’t blame Tesla. If I would have listened to the nav and gone back to Baton Rouge, there wouldn’t have been a problem. The nav knew it was not a good idea to cut it that close when there was a much closer supercharger well within my range. In hindsight, listening to the nav would have cost me an hour, but it would have saved me the 5 hours of down time.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Actually, Dan, I was thinking more of when the range estimator told you that you only needed to charge for 15 minutes at the Lake Charles Supercharger, but you later had sufficient range anxiety to turn off the cabin heater before reaching the next Supercharger. I’m writing not as a Model S owner, not from experience, but just as an interested onlooker; but it seems to me that one thing you’ll learn as you get more familiar with the car is the need to allow for maybe 10-20% “slack” in the remaining range, so you don’t have to resort to that kind of thing.

        1. Dan Zorrilla says:

          We got to Baton Rouge with plenty of range left. It just wastes more kW’s if you have the heat on, which means sitting at the next charger longer to make up for the loss. We were just trying to minimize the overall trip duration. We drove with the heat off 90% of the trip. We bought a pair of gloves at a CVS once it got too cold. That was probably a little over the top, but we probably cut an hour charge time off the trip over 1,000 miles.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Dan, thanks for the clarification.

            Nice to learn that you shutting the cabin heater off was a pragmatic decision, and not at all a range anxiety issue; nor a problem with inaccuracy by the range estimator.

  12. Saint says:

    I can not wait for the model lll. I hope it will be attractive and I can get my Tesla. Just returned my. Leaf. Loved it.

  13. Paul says:

    Great post. Love this site. Almost feel guilty not owning a Tesla as their factory is <1 mile from my home…maybe Model 3 someday.

  14. miggy says:

    Great detailed post, thanks for sharing.
    Just wish Tesla would set up shop in my country.

  15. Speculawyer says:

    It will be nice when the Model 3 and Chevy Bolt hit the market. That will probably bring used Tesla Model S prices down. Right now, the Model S in the only large batteried vehicle that one can purchase.

  16. ModernMarvelFan says:

    “Five hours after we ran out of power, we finally got to the Mobile Supercharger that was only three miles away.”

    I know it is the result of owner’s own stupidity.

    But if cars with gas engines run out of juice/fuel, problems like that can be remedied within 30 minutes and half gallon of gas. That is something that will always be in the back of naysayer’s head.

    1. SparkEV says:

      You’re also carrying around several hundred pounds of gas engine stuff all the time when you may not need it most of the time. One could just as easily make an argument for EV carrying $600 Harbor Freight generator all the time: crude, but effective in a pinch.

      But better solution is to carry around a sexy girl friend all the time, and have some sexist pigs give short tow-charge (regen while being towed). They weigh less than gas engine, and smells better, too. 🙂

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        People buy insurance just in case…

        Are you saying that we don’t need a bigger battery EV since most of that battery are just “dead weight” since most people don’t drive that far each day? Or are you trying to make a case for gasoline cars which has fast “refilling” stations?

    2. Loaddown says:

      Amen to that! I cannot remember ever running out of gas in a gas engine car. Only one time did I have anxiety on a 1500 mile trip in the middle of the night in nowheresville, NC when at 2 in the morning I found a remote gas station with a pump that took dollar bills (I am not kidding). That is my entire life story. With a one car family, we are not ready for pure electric yet.
      BEV owners will have many of these stories, that’s why I am looking for a PHEV to replace my Prius. No BEV for me.

  17. Uromd says:

    The battery in the car is big enough. We just need a lot more Superchargers. Every 20-50 miles along the interstates would do the job.