Turns Out That Salvaged Tesla Might Not Have A Battery Pack


It’s a very good idea to make sure that if you buy a Tesla at auction, it isn’t missing its ~$16,500 battery pack.

So, how does one easily find out if the battery pack has been yanked prior to the sale?

YouTuber Samcrac recently spoke with Nick, creator of an auto auction site. Nick pointed out that he recently spotted a Tesla Model S being sold at a salvage auction without its battery pack. In fact, he’s now seen at least seven examples of this type of business. Of course, this would be fine if the information was divulged ahead of time, but unfortunately, that’s not been the case.

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Nick found some peculiarities with several salvaged Tesla vehicles on the auction block in terms of pricing, details, and turnaround. He also noticed that some of the cars seemed to be sitting way too high off the ground compared to a new Tesla Model S. These observations convinced him to make some calls to buyers to find out if there was anything strange happening.

Needless to say, Nick discovered that these buyers had received their vehicles only to find out that the battery had been removed without mention. Apparently, at insurance auctions, third-party buyers and sellers are grabbing up these vehicles, removing the batteries and then reselling them (albeit for a significantly lower price, but still without indication of such, and surely not ~$16,500 less).

Samcrac reached out to Rich from Rich Rebuilds to glean a little information related to the situation and teach us exactly what to look out for. If you’re not familiar, Rich Rebuilds is a YouTube Channel focusing on rebuilding salvaged Tesla vehicles, along with some other fun, Tesla-related content.

Anyhow, Rich has seen this type of situation himself and says that if you can get an opportunity to push the car, you’ll know right that it’s not heavy enough. Also, tapping on the underside of the car will sound hollow. He also agrees with Nick’s observation that the car may be sitting unusually high, but this is not necessarily the best indicator. Finally, Rich also points out that you shouldn’t be fooled by the fact that many of these cars still have a working instrument cluster and touch-screen interface.

People remove the modules but put the case back so it appears to have a battery. They may be able to pull off such a task in under an hour, and then they sell them on sites like eBay for a nice chunk of change. Rich says that people are also removing the rear drive units and making it look as if it’s still in the car. Many other parts can also be removed, but it requires more work and the return may not be worth it since the parts aren’t as valuable.

If you’re buying an EV at auction – especially a Tesla vehicle – be very wary and do your homework.

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14 Comments on "Turns Out That Salvaged Tesla Might Not Have A Battery Pack"

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You could start from looking at the large gaps between fender lip and wheel, always a good indication something heavy is no longer there, even with an ICE vehicle, be wary.

This sort of thing is more common than people think. I’ve seen expensive headlights gutted on BMW’s. I’ve seen missing driveshafts in AWDs used to hide gutted front diffs. Entire A/C systems removed and sold in the winter. Electric motors missing from passenger seats and sun roofs and windows and convertible tops. Front or rear brake systems completely missing. Etc

TRA auctions are no place for the faint hearted.

Watch, once scammers read this article they’ll start cinching down the suspension to make it look like it sits lower with a battery still inside.

An auto dealer ripping someone off, this must be a first! This happens in many forms yet this is an extremely expensive cheat…Often you can pay $50-$200 to have a mobile mechanic check it out; if you can’t yourself, this should be something you should consider…

This is not the dealers, at auctions there are no guarantees, ever…you buy what you see.

They are the same slimy people that give the entire car industry a bad name.

Oh no, these slime bags are in their own class.

Yea, these guys make “Joe Isuzu” look like a boy scout.

Right Mom?

So much for the troll’s theory that these batteries will end up in the landfill. These are ridiculously expensive even on the second hand market and they will stay that way until home storage prices come down considerably.

This also refutes statements that batteries are cheap and EV’s should cost the same or cheaper than their ICE equivalents.

It gets better and better every single day.

Having no tail pipe is the best part.

They definitely don’t get cheaper fast enough.

The ICE engine in the equivalent performance BMW or Audi ICE car cost $35-50K to replace with brand new factory engines. Add in a complex transmission with an additional $15-$20K brand new factory replacement cost, and all the sudden you can buy a whole lot of brand new replacement batteries and electric motors for the same class of car.

ICE vs. EV drivetrain price parity continues to work their way down the price/performance ladder. First it was high performance ICE sedan engines. Now it is moderate performance entry level luxury sedans that are coming into parity this year. It will continue to work down in price parity in class after class. CUV’s, sports cars, pickups, Semi’s all have expensive ICE engines, and will be next.

If you are complaining about cheapo economy cars, those will be towards the end of the curve.