Fuel prices can make even essential driving prohibitive these days, prompting many folks to consider switching to a more fuel-efficient car or even an electric vehicle (EV). But if you have tried shopping for a new electric vehicle, you may have found the options lacking.
There is a shortage of new cars in general, and dealers don’t have the supply of electric vehicles available to meet the increasing demand. If you can find one, you’re likely to pay top dollar. A used electric car can be a more affordable option — and one that’s easier to find.
What To Know When Shopping For A Used Electric Car
There are several factors to consider when shopping for a used electric car. For instance, while you can claim up to a $7,500 federal income tax credit when you purchase a new electric vehicle, there’s no tax credit for used electric cars. And pre-owned cars are currently in high demand, so finding the right one can take time and effort.
It is possible to purchase a used electric car for $20,000 or less, though, especially when you are armed with the knowledge of what to look for, how to negotiate — and what to avoid.
Create Your Shopping List
Deciding which makes and models you would consider buying might take a little research, but it will save you time and trouble in the long run. The Penny Hoarder offers a list of the best used electric cars that are more commonly available for under $20,000, and this list is a great starting point for your research. When making your list, consider your budget and how you plan to use the vehicle, such as short drives around town or commuting long distances. You can also add some wish list items, such as a color or specific built-in tech.
Make Sure You Have Charging Options
If there are lots of public EV charging stations where you live, you might be able to rely on them to charge your vehicle. But in most instances, your best bet is to install a charger at home. You will need proper charging equipment and electrical supply. Unfortunately, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Look into the charging capabilities and requirements of any used electric car you want to buy ahead of time.
Negotiate Over The Battery Life
The battery life of used electric cars degrades over time. Repeated charges and substantial temperature changes can accelerate the process. Electric cars display the battery’s health in the instrument cluster or central display screen, and a dealership’s service department can provide a detailed report. You should also find out whether the battery has been replaced and if there is a transferable warranty for it. If you would likely need to buy a new battery soon, you might be able to bring down the asking price.
Consider The Car’s Original Climate
You may have looked for vehicles from warmer climates when buying pre-owned gas-powered cars. While this is effective when you want to avoid things like rust, the effects of heat on electric cars can be detrimental. Since hot climates accelerate the degradation of electric vehicles, a car from an area with milder weather may perform longer.
Depending on the age of a used electric car, it could still have warranties on the battery and the powertrain. Many manufacturers transfer the coverage to new owners, but this doesn’t always apply to older models. Find the original warranty terms to see if any coverage remains before buying.
Research Ranges And Charging Rates
Knowing how much range you need between charges is essential. Car manufacturers are constantly improving on the range of EVs, but keep in mind that some used electric cars have a range of fewer than 100 miles. If you will need to charge it at work or other locations while on the go, you might need a vehicle with a quick charging rate. If you’re only planning to charge it overnight at home, a slower charging rate (and lower price point) might be sufficient.
Ask For The Service History
As with any pre-owned vehicle, the more you know about the upkeep of a used electric car, the better. Ask for records of maintenance, repairs and other services the previous owners had done.
Take It For A Test Drive—And An Inspection
Taking a potential car for a spin can help you evaluate it. Before you get in, find out where the charging port is to make sure it will be accessible in your garage. Next, check gauges and displays to see if you can easily read and understand them. Then, take the vehicle to an auto service center that specializes in electric vehicles for an inspection to weed out any potential issues that could help you haggle (or indicate that you should walk away).
Prepare To Hunt For Your Ideal Vehicle—And Then Act Fast To Buy It
New and used cars are going fast these days, so carve out frequent time to see what’s available. Then, when you notice a vehicle you like, act quickly. Schedule a test drive, refer to your checklist, and seal the deal ASAP when the right car comes along.