As electric vehicles continue to rise in popularity, we’ll start seeing more used EVs available for sale. If you’re in the market for an electric car, you’re likely wondering how much mileage matters on a used EV.
While Tesla dominates the used EV market today, we’re seeing several additional used EV models available to buyers. And while buying a used electric car is an excellent idea, mileage still matters. However, it doesn’t matter as much as it does on a traditional gas-powered vehicle.
As usual, you’ll want to look for a car with fewer miles on the odometer, but the situation is vastly different when it comes to EVs. That’s because there are far fewer moving parts, no expensive engines or transmissions to worry about failing, and substantially less maintenance. So, here’s what you need to know and why mileage doesn’t matter as much on a used EV.
The more someone drives a car, the more wear and tear they put on every aspect of the vehicle. Internal combustion engines (ICE) have vastly more moving parts, more fluids and lubricants, and more things that can go wrong. Buying a gas vehicle with 140,000 miles is a scary purchase, one that’s not as concerning on an EV.
In fact, over 20 commonly serviced components fail or need repairs on regular cars that EV owners don’t need to worry about. These include engine filters, oil changes, spark plugs, drive belts or chains, emission (EVAP) system hoses, O2 sensors, transmission fluid and flushes, failing catalytic converters, and so on.
And those are just the common ones. When you look at the bigger picture, most gas vehicles have hundreds and hundreds of moving parts. A Consumer Reports study suggests that gas vehicles will often require upwards of $4,600 more in repairs and maintenance over the vehicle’s life than an EV. That number climbs the older it gets, while it remains mostly flat-lined on electric cars.
One of the biggest unknowns when buying a used car is maintenance. How well did the previous owner take care of things? Did they change the oil every 3,000-5,000 miles, top off all necessary fluids, and have the spark plugs ever been changed? These are all essential questions that can determine the life of a vehicle.
A gas-powered vehicle that has high mileage is always a risky purchase, as things wear out, degrade, and start to fail over time. Especially considering how many moving parts and extreme temperates the engine and transmission deal with.
Most of that goes out the window when looking for a used EV. You don’t have to worry about oil changes, spark plugs, a transmission slipping, none of it. The only concern is the drivetrain and battery. An EV with high mileage won’t have a ton of parts that are prone to fail.
Electric vehicles don’t have a fancy engine, but they have a motor, suspension components, brake pads and rotors, brake lines, tires, and other things that need regular maintenance. That said, replacing common EV maintenance items is far cheaper than the cost of putting in a new transmission in that old gas car for sale on the corner.
Most electric vehicle manufacturers suggest maintenance every two, three, or even six years instead of every 5,000 miles like on a regular vehicle.
Of course, repairs on an EV can be expensive and time-consuming, but that goes for any car. Overall, you’ll have less worry when it comes to previous maintenance, repairs, or mileage on an EV.
Electric vehicles are still relatively new, so we’re not entirely sure how well a 10-year-old EV will do after going for 300,000 miles. A one-million-mile Tesla in Germany eventually had a battery replacement, but most EVs don’t have anywhere that many miles yet.
Aside from all the regular maintenance that any car needs, the biggest question mark when buying a used EV is the battery. According to experts, EV batteries typically last anywhere from 10-20 years. That’s significantly longer than most people own a vehicle and longer than your average gas guzzler.
So, when looking for a used vehicle, you’ll want to consider battery longevity, as a battery will degrade over time.
Tesla guarantees the battery in each vehicle for eight years or 100,000 miles, and some have a 150k warranty. Even after 150,000 miles of daily recharges, Tesla promises the battery should still be able to maintain at least 70% capacity. And in most cases, the battery will remain far healthier than 70%. That’s much better than Chevrolet’s 3-year/36,000-mile warranty on new vehicles.
In the United States, depending on the model and manufacturer, almost every EV sold has at least an 8-year battery warranty. This means that the biggest concern on a used EV is the battery, which comes with a pretty good warranty and can often live for upwards of 10-20 years.
Most electric vehicles have large Lithium-Ion battery packs that power the motors instead of gasoline, but as we said above, the battery will degrade over time. Like your three-year-old iPhone probably doesn’t hold a charge as long as it did the day you bought it, an old EV battery won’t go as far.
If a new EV can go 300 miles on a charge, one with an older battery and over 100,000 miles on the odometer won’t be able to go that far. Due to battery degradation, expect around 240 miles per charge.
That’s why Tesla claims after eight years or 100k miles, the battery can still hold 70+% of its total capacity. And while that’s pretty good, it’s not great, but the technology is improving by the day. I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone buy an original first-generation Tesla Model S with high mileage but to each their own.
I know what you’re probably thinking. A new battery for an out-of-warranty EV is expensive, and most people would probably buy a new car. I’d argue the same thing for gas vehicles. If a gas car with 180,000 miles has an engine or tranny failure, most owners will likely just get a new car. It goes both ways.
So, does mileage matter when it comes to buying a new EV? Well, yes and no. I think it’ll always matter when buying a vehicle and trying to get the most value for your money. That said, there’s less to worry about on a high-mileage EV than on an older gas-powered vehicle.
In closing, as technology improves and advances, EV battery replacements could become easier and more affordable down the road. Electric vehicles are still in the infancy stage, so we’ll have to wait and see.
As things stand today, it’s hard to say what to do, and it should depend on your needs and budget. EVs certainly require less maintenance, and you don’t have to worry about engine failures or dropping $3,500 on a new transmission. So, if you find a used EV you like, go ahead and buy it.