Bought a Used Tesla and it Doesn’t Perform like the Dealer Said it Would?

One of the fastest growing complaints our firm is hearing is the lack of driving range being experienced by buyers of used Tesla and other EVs. A smaller but growing number of these drivers are reporting the need to replace their battery long before they expected.

A quick search of the internet gets you nothing if not confused, so confusion is understandable. But when you consider the dishonest tactics often utilized by used car dealership salespeople to sell a car, it may be inevitable.

As the typical prospective EV buyer is filled with the hope of saving money on expensive fuel along with the planet, yet woefully uninformed about the science, technology, and costs of an EV, you may be or may have been a particularly easy mark for an unscrupulous sales person spouting off about how smart this contemplated purchase may be for you and your family’s future.

How long do electric batteries last?

The often reported legend of a Tesla’s battery life is from 300,000 to 500,000 miles and the most frequent source is the company’s leader, Elon Musk, himself in a tweet. Some websites then do some math based on a hypothetical driver using only 40 miles a day who would presumably enjoy almost 40 years of life. The warranties covering Teslas and every other EV are considerably shorter of course, and the miles driven are often much higher than average users of the open road.

Motor Trend has a great article digging into Teslas, the highlights of which include:
– Batteries are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle, but that span is estimated to be only eight years and 200,000 miles in the US. (2021 Tesla Impact Report).
– Batteries very rarely just stop working, but rather degrade slowly but neither in a linear nor apparently consistent manner, which can cause frustration amongst buyers.
– Replacement batteries, often remanufactured by Tesla, can cost between $10 and $20k.

Hot Cars has written about mistakes to avoid when buying a Tesla, noting the potential of a brief extended warranty you may enjoy by purchasing a used car from Tesla directly and the risk of buying from a private party or non-Tesla dealership. There are numerous videos on Youtube that show how to test a Tesla battery’s health.

Duds May End Up on a Lot Near You

As with gas-powered engines, experiences vary from vehicle to vehicle and there are always going to be some bruised apples in the bushel.
As there are techniques and conditions that both extend and limit a battery’s life, it stands to reason that a Tesla with a weaker battery, would be more likely to end up on you neighborhood used car dealer’s lot, perhaps even after an auction sale or two, than its pristine and high performing peers either stored in their original owners’ garages or being sold by Tesla.

How to Protect Yourself

Given the great expense of replacing a battery as compared to the more common, smaller repairs a used car buyer may have come to expect, it is vital that the buyer of a used Tesla get as much verifiable information as possible regarding the past use and charging techniques, as well as a measurement of the battery’s capacity, prior to making the purchase.
To preserve any rights you may have against a dealer for misleading you in this way, please be sure to get this information in writing (or record them if they give you their express permission to do so). You may want to communicate more via text or e-mail and be sure to save those messages.
Car Dealers are not allowed to lie to you in order to sell a car, but proving that you relied on this information, or even received it as part of the sale, would be much better in writing, which can be a screenshot of a text.

Bottom Line

Rolling into the neighborhood with a shiny used Tesla is likely going to feel great, and no one hopes you have trouble, especially expensive, replace the battery trouble.
Buying any used car comes with a risk, but you have a right to be told the truth when you ask responsible, legitimate questions and the dealership should be held accountable for their promises and any warranties they provide.

Need Legal Help?

If you believe that a California Car Dealer has taken advantage of you through lies or misrepresentations, or failed you in other ways, please reach out to us at the Auto Fraud Legal Center. Because nobody should be cheated!