Table of contents

How to buy a used electric car

Refer to our guide for essential insights on evaluating a used EV, ensuring a smart and sustainable purchase.

Although electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular, most people still regard them as a novelty. When deciding whether an EV can fit into your life, the vast quantity of information available on the technology, how to leverage it, and what the major brands have to offer might be overwhelming. 

For most individuals, the initial step in buying a used electric car is to familiarise themselves with the possibilities and limits of EVs in general, as well as to determine whether or not one would fit into their daily lives. This guide aims to simplify that process, providing a structured approach to understanding and purchasing a used EV.

What to Look For When Buying A Used Electric Vehicle

Transitioning from traditional gasoline or diesel cars to electric ones can seem challenging. From higher initial costs to learning about battery sizes and navigating the new terrain of public and home charging, there’s a lot to consider. 

To learn more about what to look for when buying a used electric vehicle, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of essential considerations. Here’s what you should take into account:

Charging infrastructure

When buying a used electric vehicle, it’s important to understand the variety of charging solutions and strategize accordingly. It significantly enhances the convenience and enjoyment of ownership, especially for extended trips. This knowledge ensures that the EV you choose aligns with your lifestyle and travel needs, making it an important consideration in the buying process.

You should be aware that for home charging stations, there are two main types: 

  • Level 1 chargers, ideal for overnight charging, connect to a standard 120V household outlet and deliver a slower charging rate, typically adding about 4-5 miles of range per hour. 
  • Level 2 chargers, perfect for those requiring faster charge times, need a 240V outlet, like those used for large appliances, and provide a much faster charging experience, with about 20-25 miles of range per hour.

In the case of public charging stations, their availability and accessibility vary by location but are quickly increasing. Various apps and websites can assist in finding nearby charging options, including those that offer fast charging. While many public stations provide Level 2 charging, there are also stations equipped with DC Fast Charging (Level 3), capable of charging an electric vehicle to 80% in just 30 minutes to an hour.

Additionally, when selecting a used electric car, you need to check its charge port type to ensure compatibility with your home charging setup and the predominant type of public charging stations in your area.

VIN check

Performing a VIN check is equally important when purchasing a used electric car, as it offers a detailed glimpse into the vehicle’s past. This check reveals important information such as the car’s history of accidents, previous ownership, service records, and whether it has been subject to any recalls, including regular maintenance and any major repairs.

For electric vehicles, a VIN check can also provide insights into battery health and replacements, which are crucial for assessing the vehicle’s current condition and longevity. This comprehensive background enables buyers to make a more informed decision, ensuring they are aware of any potential issues or concerns before finalizing the purchase.

For more details, check out our article on The Best Vin Decoders in 2024, where you can find the right tools to ensure you make an informed decision before finalizing your purchase.

Battery life

Electric vehicle ownership requires knowledge of battery technology and maintenance to ensure longevity and performance. 

If you decide to buy your used EV from a dealership, the dealer will be able to provide you with a battery information sheet so you can check the battery condition (or remaining capacity) using the car’s infotainment system.  

There are normally two gauges with differing forms that must be verified:

  • SoH (state of health), long-term battery capacity; different vehicles will display this in various ways, including the usage of bars.
  • SoC (state of charge) refers to the short-term charge and related range, which can vary from day to day and is influenced by a variety of factors like temperature, road conditions, and driver conduct. Generally, at 100% SoC, the kilometre range will be given.

Modern EV batteries, predominantly lithium-ion, are praised for their high energy density and extended lifespan, which generally spans between 8-10 years, although this can fluctuate with variations in usage and maintenance. This aspect is particularly pertinent when considering used EVs, as battery degradation naturally progresses over time, incrementally reducing the vehicle’s total range. 

Battery tracker

A battery tracker for an electric vehicle is a sophisticated tool or application designed to monitor and report on the health and performance of the EV’s battery over time.

These tools can provide valuable insights into charging patterns, degradation rates, and overall battery condition. Using a battery tracker can help identify when to adjust usage patterns to prolong battery life.

Some electric vehicles, including Tesla models, are already equipped with a feature similar to a battery tracker, termed “battery health”, which monitors and reports on the state of the battery. 

The concept behind incorporating such data into reports generated by VIN decoders is to enhance the transparency and reliability of the information available to potential buyers. By having access to detailed battery health information within vehicle history reports, buyers can make more informed decisions about the condition and value of used EVs, leading to a more secure and confident purchasing process and a more transparent and reliable used electric car market.

Including detailed battery health and performance data in vehicle history reports also offers a clearer picture of an electric vehicle’s condition beyond traditional metrics like mileage or accident history. This allows potential buyers to better assess future expenses related to battery replacement or maintenance.

Car and battery warranty

Pay special attention to the battery warranty, which typically covers up to 8 years or a specific mileage limit, safeguarding against significant capacity loss.

For instance, Tesla vehicles typically offer a warranty of 4 years or 80,000km, whichever occurs first, with the battery covered for 8 years or between 160,000km and 192,000km, varying by model. In contrast, the older BMW i3 models were backed by a 3-year manufacturer warranty, while brands like MG provide a 7-year warranty. Therefore, verifying the specific warranty details of the vehicle you’re considering is important.

Overall condition

Whether you’re buying a new or used car, it’s important to inspect the car’s exterior for any signs of damage or wear, including dents, scratches, or paint chips, which could suggest past accidents or poor maintenance. 

Inside the car, look for excessive wear and tear, like worn seats, damaged dashboard components, or faulty controls, as these can indicate how well the car was cared for.

Just like traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, electric vehicles also share components such as suspension, steering, and brakes. We advise you to have these checked by a mechanic, similar to any other vehicle evaluation.

First Time Buying A Used Electric Vehicle 

After deciding upon your used electric car of choice, securing the best deal, comprehending your purchase in detail, and concluding the sale correctly involve several steps. 

If this is your first electric vehicle, we recommend the following structured approach to navigate this process efficiently:

1. Consider your needs

When it comes to buying a used electric vehicle for your needs, understanding your daily driving habits and range requirements is important.

Consider the average distance you drive each day and whether the EV’s battery range can accommodate your routine without frequent recharges. Additionally, the size, style, and specific features of the vehicle play significant roles in your decision. 

Whether you need a compact car for city driving, a larger vehicle for family needs, or specific technological features for convenience and safety, these considerations will help narrow down your choices to find the perfect used EV match.      

2. Do your research

Used electric cars come with their own set of considerations; therefore, it’s essential to explore and compare different models on the market.

Evaluating the driving range of several models, such as the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Bolt, or BMW i3, is crucial to confirm it satisfies your daily requirements, from single-charge travel distances to overall efficiency. What’s more, understanding the specifics of warranty coverage, both for the battery and the vehicle, is essential for assessing the long-term reliability and support of your potential used EV purchase. 

These considerations collectively provide a solid foundation for making an informed decision in the used EV market. Additionally, please consider the pros and cons of buying used EVs that we’ve listed below:

PROS of buying used EVs CONS of buying used EVs
Lower initial costs make them more accessible. The battery may have degraded, potentially reducing range.
Most depreciation has already occurred, offering better value. May lack the latest technological features and improvements.
Contributes to environmental sustainability by extending the vehicle's lifecycle. The remaining warranty may be limited, offering less future repair protection.
Often available for immediate purchase, avoiding waiting lists. The selection may be limited in terms of models, colors, and features.
More information on long-term reliability and performance from existing owners. Risk of inheriting undisclosed problems from the previous owner.

3. Budget efficiently

Understanding how much it costs to buy an electric car involves several key components.

The initial purchase price of a used electric vehicle can vary significantly depending on the model, its age, condition, and features. Typically, the price range for used EVs can span from €9,000 for older models with higher mileage to over €45,000 for recent, premium models with low mileage and advanced features.

In addition to the purchase price, buyers are encouraged to explore regional incentives, tax credits, or rebates available for EV purchases, as these can substantially reduce the effective cost of acquisition.

Furthermore, considering long-term financial benefits is essential; this includes savings on fuel, as charging an EV typically costs less than fueling a traditional gasoline vehicle, along with reduced maintenance expenses due to fewer mechanical components in electric cars. 

4. Go for a test drive

Test driving is another important step in the car-buying process, offering valuable insights beyond specifications and reviews. By test driving several used EV models, you can compare how each one meets your specific needs in terms of performance, comfort, and lifestyle compatibility. 

Experiencing the acceleration, handling, and braking of a used electric vehicle firsthand helps you evaluate its performance. EVs typically deliver instant torque, which creates a unique driving experience distinct from that of traditional combustion engines.

Another reason to go for a test drive is that it provides a chance to check seat comfort, cabin space, and ergonomics, which are important for a pleasant driving experience. It also allows for testing the infotainment system, connectivity, and driver assistance tech to ensure they’re up to your standards and easy to use.

Finally, you can evaluate how each electric vehicle model fits your daily routines, whether it’s for short commutes or extended road trips. 

5. Negotiate

This step is a must for both new and used cars, as it sets the foundation for informed negotiation.

Start with thorough market research to understand the fair price for your chosen EV model. Factor in any available EV incentives that could lower the overall cost.

Negotiate for extras, such as charging equipment or extended warranty plans, to be included in the sale at a discounted rate or as part of the package. 

6. Complete the sale safely

Before signing anything, carefully review all the paperwork involved, including the bill of sale, warranty information, and any dealer agreements. Make sure the title is correctly transferred to your name to officially establish your ownership.

Follow through with the vehicle registration process in your locality, which may involve providing proof of insurance, your driver’s license, and paying any relevant fees. Remember, some areas offer perks for used EV owners.

Whether you’re buying new or used, the goal remains the same: to secure the best possible terms that align with your needs and budget, while ensuring the car is equipped to serve you well into the future. This approach is especially pertinent in the used car market, where understanding the vehicle’s history and ensuring it meets your standards are of the utmost importance.


It’s reassuring to learn that buying a used electric car follows a process that isn’t that different from acquiring any traditional vehicle, with a few additional steps such as setting up a home charger and familiarizing yourself with electric charging stations. 

For those wondering about the best way to buy an electric car and seeking top options, we’ve crafted this guide to help in making an informed choice. We hope you’ve found it helpful in navigating your journey toward electric mobility.

Share your thoughts by commenting below

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended Reviews

Visit site >

The best all-round VIN Decoder. Experience unparalleled excellence with carVertical.

Visit site >

Trust the pioneering veteran, Carfax: Providing reliable and extensive vehicle history reports.

Visit site >

Embrace the innovative analyst, expert vehicle analysis and unique scoring system.

Your ultimate destination for the most comprehensive and reliable VIN decoder reviews.

Our mission is to provide unbiased, expert-driven insights into the best VIN decoders on the market in order to assist you in making an informed decision when purchasing your next car.

carVertical Exclusive deal

Grab the Biggest Discount Now