Buying a car can be a daunting experience on its own and buying a used Tesla will always leave you with questions.
A used car can be a great financial decision but also means you have to spend a lot of time on research. This is even more so because electric vehicles like the Tesla are different from traditional gas cars.
With that said, in this article, we’ll discuss some points to consider when buying a used Tesla. These factors can help potential owners make an informed buying decision.
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Do Older Teslas Still Get Software Updates?
Tesla cars get over-the-air software updates for system improvements and new features. Older Tesla models can get newer software updates even though they haven’t been updated in a long time.
The 2012-2015 Tesla Model S and Model X have both gotten software updates recently. The updates made the system more responsive and gave it a more modern design.
As cars get newer models, they also get new hardware upgrades that older cars did not have. In this case, an older car can get the same update but only if it has the relevant hardware to support it.
All Tesla cars run the same software, but software updates will sometimes only go to certain models. This is because a specific model might not have the hardware to support a certain update.
For example, there are variations of the Tesla Model X which have a base model that has basic hardware and features. The same software update on higher trims with better features will not work on the base model if it lacks the requisite hardware.
What can also happen is that the software update will go out to all the cars, whether they are new or old. The software will then adjust itself if it does not find the appropriate hardware in a certain model.
Just like a modern computer or smartphone, it gets regular updates from the manufacturer or maker. These are provided in order for the device to run smoothly and keep up with the latest designs.
The Tesla models are similar in that they receive updates in order for the hardware and software design to be modern. A user experience update from 3 years ago will not look and react the same as the latest one.
It is a great advantage for older cars to have the ability to update to the latest software. The update can fix issues and also improve performance.
Do Older Teslas Have Free Supercharging?
Judging from Tesla’s software update history, older cars from 2019 had an update for supercharging. Model S cars from 2012 still have the perk of unlimited free supercharging.
Supercharging stations are now available throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. These stations are available free of charge depending on the location and which Tesla model is charging.
Recently, Tesla changed their policies around free unlimited supercharging. Most cars that had the benefit of free supercharging were models earlier than 2019.
The Tesla Roadster, together with some older models, did not receive supercharging hardware. As such, they cannot receive free supercharging like other models.
Other models that do not inherently have the hardware to supercharge include the Model S 40 and Model S 60 which were software locked. All other Model S cars had supercharging capabilities.
It is important to note that older Teslas that had the free supercharging had it from the promotion that Tesla was running. This means that Teslas now do not get the free supercharging like older models.
Tesla Model Ys from 2020 to 2021 do not have free supercharging. If the car was purchased before 2019, it might still have free supercharging, but the owner will have to check with Tesla first.
Another example is the Performance Model 3 Tesla purchased between 2018 and 2019. This model had free unlimited supercharging for the lifetime of the car.
Do Older Teslas Also Have Autopilot Features?
Tesla models that were introduced before 2014 do not have autopilot features. Models like the Tesla Model S and the Roadster did not have sufficient hardware to support autopilot and self-driving features.
Tesla’s autopilot features need hardware components like cameras and sensors to interact with the road and the surroundings. Older models did not get these components and therefore no autopilot features.
The computers, sensors, and cameras allow the car to see where it is going and what is around it. You can easily tell that older models did not have autopilot due to the missing cameras around the car.
From September 2014 onwards, Teslas started getting hardware upgrades that included the necessary hardware. These earlier models only got basic hardware like one camera, a radar system, and a processor.
As the years went by, Teslas were then upgraded to include up to eight cameras, improved radar systems, and faster processors. Improved hardware means the car can be more alert to what’s around it and adjust performance as quickly as needed.
With older cars in mind, the lack of hardware is not the end-all and be-all for owners who want autopilot features. Owners of these old cars can now retrofit their Teslas with cameras and other necessary hardware for autopilot features.
If an owner is eligible for the retrofit upgrade, they will have received a message from Tesla but they also contact the automaker. The retrofit program is a welcomed announcement from Tesla for owners with older cars.
The self-driving and autopilot features of Tesla cars are a big selling factor for its customers. The technology is now very advanced and the car can easily drive itself from one parking lot to another parking lot.
Do Older Teslas Charge Slower?
Older Teslas from 2014 are now charging significantly slower than they used to a few years ago. This might be due to software upgrades or because the battery is failing due to degradation.
An over-the-air software update can render a Tesla slower to charge than a newer model Tesla. The difference in charging times is not very noticeable for the majority of Teslas.
Another reason for a slower charge is that lithium-ion batteries typically degrade and lose capacity over time.
A Tesla Model S from 2014 might have lost the battery capacity due to factors like temperature and how many charging cycles it has.
Slower charging batteries don’t specifically affect only Tesla cars and are inherently a lithium battery disadvantage. As soon as the battery reaches 80% charge capacity, it starts to charge slower.
A Tesla will charge about 100% if you’re just about to go for a really long trip. A Tesla used for daily driving will charge about 90% depending on the temperature.
In order to protect the battery, it will only discharge to about 20% and then you’d need to charge it as soon as possible. It is advised to keep the car plugged in overnight when you’re at home.
As for older Teslas, the company recommends protective measures to ensure the longevity of the battery.
If you bought an old Tesla that’s charging slowly, please read our article about tips to make a Tesla charge faster.
How to Know If the Battery Is Worn Out on a Used Tesla?
To check whether your Tesla battery is worn out, you have to charge the battery to 100% and check the estimated range on the instrument cluster. You can then divide that number by the original battery range.
From this calculation, you’ll be able to tell how much your battery has worn out. The battery capacity can be multiplied by 100 in order to determine how much capacity you have left.
A top-of-the-range Tesla is estimated to retain around 90% of its capacity well after 200,000 miles. These are estimated on the Tesla Model X and Model S, which lose around 1% of their range per year.
It isn’t surprising to see a Tesla drastically lose battery in the car’s early years. Later years than show less of a drastic decline.
Checking the range on a Tesla is still one of the best ways to check if its battery is wearing out. Huge jumps in range rating are a good indication that the battery is not stable and needs to be checked.
Owners of different Tesla models reported seeing a 5% drop in their cars’ capacity after around 50,000 miles. They also noted that the decline in battery capacity was much slower after the 50,000-mile mark.
With that in mind, it is rare for a Tesla to lose up to 50% of its capacity. In fact, many owners have gone over 300,000 miles with only 20% battery degradation.
A battery will last as long as it is well taken care of. Batteries need a lot of care in an electric car and their capacity can be affected by a lot of factors.
Are Older Teslas As Reliable As New Teslas?
Tesla models from 2016 can be reliable if the car is still under warranty and the battery and motor are still good. The battery, motor, and drive train will be the most expensive to replace if the car is not reliable.
A good idea would be to do research on the car if one is looking to buy an older Tesla. More research will bring up issues to look out for regarding that particular model.
For example, a newer Model S Tesla will be a lot more reliable than an older model. This is because newer cars undergo hardware and design improvements over time.
Newer Tesla models also tend to do better in terms of dependability in the long run. An older Tesla model will also mean more expenses to repair issues that come up.
Old Tesla models like the 2013 Model S also receive a low rating in terms of their battery capacity and overall dependability. Models such as these had a lot of reported problems that are not seen in newer models.
Owners of older models also advise against buying an older Tesla that is out of warranty. The warranty covers a lot of issues and repairs can get expensive without it.
What Is the Most Reliable Tesla You Can Buy Used?
The Tesla Model 3 is still the most reliable Tesla to buy used because of its award-winning history. It has seen great performance throughout the years and is still one of the most dependable models.
Another good alternative would surely be the Tesla Model 3, with exceptional battery capacity and safety features. This model gets a good supply of software updates to get it running in optimal conditions.
Owners who bought this model used also like the fact that the battery still had sufficient capacity to last long. This is a good trait because the battery is one of the most expensive components in a Tesla.
A good rule of thumb is to also get a model that is still under warranty from Tesla. Many owners who don’t have a warranty complain about how difficult it is without one.
If you’re wondering whether these cars are dependable, you’ll like our article about how reliable Teslas are.
What Is the Estimated Lifespan of a Tesla?
The estimated lifespan of a Tesla is about 300,000 miles to 500,000 miles. Teslas are estimated to last well over 15 years.
Battery packs on newer Tesla models are now estimated to last around 1,500 cycles. This will easily get the car’s mileage to over 500,000 miles.
Other parts of the car can also last well over the lifespan of the battery. So even if the battery is replaced along the way, the various car parts will still work.
A good estimation in years is around 15 to 20 years for a Tesla model, although this still remains to be seen.
Owners of Tesla are happy with their cars, even in bad climates. The Tesla is an EV, so the battery is vulnerable to degradation in cold climates.
Another factor of Tesla’s lifespan is that you can play around with settings to get it to be more efficient. This is highly recommended for Tesla owners who live in really cold climates.
The battery and motor are still some of the most expensive components of a Tesla. Keeping these in good condition should increase the lifespan of your Tesla.
For more information about this topic, please read our article about how long Teslas last.