A used EV is a solid choice for many reasons, but you really need to do your homework.

Many used electric cars come way cheap these days. This is true for many reasons, such as the original owner taking advantage of the U.S. federal EV tax credit, as well as state and local credits.

In addition, other factors include EVs' overall lack of interest and popularity, dealers not knowing or understanding the vehicles' worth, and the increased depreciation of such vehicles, regardless of easily explained reasons.

One would assume that cars with the latest technology would be overpriced on the used market. The forward-thinking analysis may show that these vehicles will eventually become more expensive to buy used, much like they are new. However, until consumer interest and appropriate EV education catches up, we should continue to see used EVs rolling off of dealer lots with much cheaper prices than most might expect.

While you may not yet see deep discounts on cars like the Tesla Model 3, many EVs and PHEVs are priced to sell at dealerships. This is excellent since shoppers can take advantage of huge savings compared to buying a new electric car. However, just like gas-powered cars, there are many things to consider and be sure to address before taking ownership.

AutoGravity shares the benefits of buying a used electric car:

  • Low cost of purchase over a new EV or equivalent gas-powered car.
  • Low costs of maintenance and service in the future.
  • Low price of charging at home and at public charging stations.
  • Save time by not stopping at the gas station and buying fossil fuel.
  • When you drive an emission-free vehicle, you’re not harming the environment.

According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), there are five things to look for:

1. First, you must do your homework to choose the right EV for your budget and lifestyle. Don't just take advantage of a solid deal on an EV is it's not going to suit your needs.

2. KBB reminds us that "range is money." Sure, you can get some EVs cheap, but they may not offer much range.

3. It's very important to check the car's battery life. Depending on the EV, you may have to go online and do some research to find out how to figure out this metric.

4. Since there's a good chance the brakes are still in excellent shape and there are few fluids to worry about, make sure simple things like the tires and windshield wipers are new. If not, you can likely request a discount or get the dealer to knock off more money. Tires aren't cheap.

5. If you can secure a nice deal, stray from buying on the private market and look for a certified vehicle. You may pay a bit more, but you'll have peace of mind.

AutoGravity provides an interesting checklist as well. While some of the checks surely apply to purchasing any used vehicle, some are EV-related:

  • Have the batteries been tested to make sure they are functioning properly? If not ask to have them tested.
  • It’s also a good idea to check the cars safety ratings to make sure you’ll feel safe behind the wheel.
  • Does the heat and air conditioning function properly?
  • Are the tires in good condition?
  • Does the overall condition of the interior seem to match the mileage on the odometer?
  • Do the windows roll up and down and seal as they should?
  • Do all the gauges work?
  • Are the audio and other infotainment features working?
  • Do the brakes and steering feel responsive? Do the brakes squeak or make any other undesirable noises?
  • Are there any undesirable noises coming from the suspension?
  • Does the car have a clean vehicle history report without any reported accidents or damage?
    Has the car received its scheduled maintenance and service? Ask the seller to share the cars maintenance records.
  • Does the used electric vehicle have a clean title?

CARFAX says, based on a AAA study, some 20-percent of U.S. drivers will be shopping for an EV as their next car. The best part here is the selection of new and used electric cars and SUVs is growing. However, many potential buyers may not be apprised of what to look for. The publication shares:

  • Of course, get the free CARFAX vehicle history report
  • Check the EV battery: Depending on the model, you may have to do prior research to figure out how to check its health on the car's internal computer via the touchscreen.
  • Look into the EV warranty
  • Assess the electric vehicle's regenerative braking
  • Make sure it comes with charging cords and be sure to find out if they still work

In the end, we at InsideEVs want you to make the best choice when buying a used EV. You may be able to get a fantastic deal, but there's much to consider, as shown above. To be honest, these suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg.

We suggest that, first and foremost, you contact the dealership to make sure the car is fully charged. Nine out of 10 times that will not be the case. It's hard to check out an EV's performance, battery health, range, etc. if the battery is at zero. Call the dealer ahead of time and demand that the car is fully charged. We can only assume that, sadly, most dealerships may not even have the ability to make that a reality.

Please reach out to us in the event that you are about to purchase a used EV. We're always here to help. Also, check out our growing sister site, MYEV.com to do some research and potentially see used EV choices in your area. 

In the meantime, you can compare all current U.S. EVs using our Compare EVs page.