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This article was published on October 20, 2020

Buying a used Tesla just became a lot less enticing

It's cut its used car warranty from four years to one

Buying a used Tesla just became a lot less enticing
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

One of the best things about owning an EV is that they require significantly less maintenance than comparable combustion-powered vehicles.

Sure, if things go wrong with that expensive battery or motor, it could get quite costly to fix. But the chances of that happening are low, and most EV makers have comprehensive warranties should the worst happen. That is, when you’re buying the car new, but what about used cars?

You’d think, with less to go wrong EV makers would continue to offer long and robust warranties as a show of faith in the longevity of their vehicles, but that no longer seems to be the case anymore for Tesla.

According to various reports (here, here, and here), the Elon Musk-fronted electric car brand has slashed the warranty on its used vehicles from four years to just one. That’s a drop of 75%, and this could cause headaches — scratch that, it will cause headaches.

[Read: Honda kills off diesel motors in Britain and no one even noticed]

The reports all state that Tesla’s used vehicle warranty will cover secondhand vehicles for 10,000 miles or one year from time of purchase, whichever comes first. Drivers that take advantage of Tesla’s high-range and drive long distances frequently, could see their warranty expire well within that first year.

Before the change, Tesla offered a four-year or 50,000 mile — whichever comes first — warranty on Model S and Model X vehicles with less than 50,000 miles on the clock and less than four years old.

For Model S and X cars that are between four and six years old and had between 50,000 and 100,000 miles on the clock, the warranty was two-years long and covered the vehicle up to 100,000 miles — whichever comes first. Buy a used Tesla with 99,000 miles on it, and well, that warranty won’t last long.

It should be noted that this updated warranty comes on top of what is left of the original 4-year and 50,000 mile limited warranty. And the balance of the original battery and drive unit warranty still applies for used vehicles. After those expire, though, Tesla will only warranty the vehicle for another 12 months or 50,000 miles — whichever comes first.

The original used car warranty came into force from the date of delivery.

This will also encourage used EV buyers to purchase Teslas that are less than three years old, and have low mileage. That way, there’ll be some of the original warranty left, and the additional used warranty to come into force as that expires.

Roadshow by CNET suggests cutting the warranty is an attempt to save a bit of cash and improve financial projections ahead of the company’s imminent third-quarter earnings call.

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Tesla drivers that favor the vehicles for their high range and drive them long distances won’t have much of a warranty if they buy secondhand.

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t give a good impression of how Tesla feels about the longevity of its vehicles or its financial projections.

One thing is for sure, as Elecktrek points out, used Teslas just became a lot less enticing. Buyers that might not be able to afford a brand-new EV, but are keen to make the switch in the pursuit of lowering their carbon footprint, now have one less reason to buy.

What’s more, as we know from the chronicles of Rich Rebuilds, Tesla doesn’t exactly rush to help those that own old models and want to repair and maintain them themselves.

It seems that shortening the used car warranty is a financial play by Tesla to nudge secondhand owners down a path which means they have to pay for repairs far sooner than they used to.

It’s worth point out that Tesla’s original warranties were some of the best on the market. In the combustion engine world, second hand car warranties from approved dealers are usually around one year, and if you buy privately you probably won’t get anything.

So in the grand scheme of things, Tesla shortening its used car warranty does take a bit away from aspiring owners, but it’s now inline with offerings from legacy automakers.

Tesla’s used car warranty terms can be viewed in full here.

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