As electric vehicles continue to rise in popularity, we will start to see more used electric vehicles available for sale. If you’re looking for an electric car, you’re probably wondering how much mileage matters on a used EV.
While Tesla currently dominates the used electric vehicle market, we are seeing several additional used electric vehicle models available to buyers. And while buying a used electric car is a great idea, mileage is still important. However, it doesn’t matter as much as in 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 very different when it comes to electric vehicles. This is because there are far fewer moving parts, no expensive engines or transmissions to worry about failing, and far less maintenance. So here’s what you need to know and why mileage doesn’t matter as much on a used EV.
Fewer moving parts
The more someone drives a car, the more all aspects of the vehicle wear out. Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) have a lot 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, which isn’t nearly as worrisome in an EV.
In fact, more than 20 commonly repaired components fail or need repair in regular cars that EV owners don’t have to worry about. These include engine filters, oil changes, spark plugs, drive belts or chains, emission system (EVAP) hoses, O2 sensors, transmission fluid and flushes, faulty catalytic converters, etc.
And those are just the common ones. When you look at the big picture, most gasoline vehicles have hundreds and hundreds of moving parts. A Consumer Reports study suggests that gasoline-powered vehicles will often require more than $4,600 more in repairs and maintenance over the life of the vehicle than an EV. That number increases as you get older, while mostly remaining stable in 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 the necessary fluids, and ever change the spark plugs? These are all essential questions that can determine the useful life of a vehicle.
A gas-powered vehicle that has high mileage is always a risky purchase, as things wear out, degrade, and begin to fail over time. Especially considering the number of moving parts and the extreme temperatures the engine and transmission face.
Most of that goes out the window when looking for a used EV. You don’t have to worry about oil changes, spark plugs, transmission slippage, none of that. The only concern is the transmission and the battery. An electric vehicle with a high mileage will not have a lot of parts prone to failure.
Electric vehicles don’t have a fancy engine, but they do have a motor, suspension components, brake pads and rotors, brake lines, tires, and other things that need regular maintenance. That said, replacing common electric vehicle maintenance items is much cheaper than the cost of installing 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 as in a normal vehicle.
Of course, repairs on an EV can be expensive and time consuming, but that goes for any car. In general, you will have fewer worries when it comes to previous maintenance, repairs, or mileage on an electric vehicle.
Electric vehicles are still relatively new, so we’re not entirely sure how well a 10-year-old EV will perform after 300,000 miles. A million-mile Tesla in Germany finally had a battery replacement, but most EVs still don’t have that many miles.
Aside from all the regular maintenance any car needs, the biggest question mark when buying a used EV is the battery. According to experts, electric vehicle batteries typically last between 10 and 20 years. That’s significantly longer than most people who own a vehicle and longer than the average gas guzzler.
So when you’re looking for a used vehicle, you’ll want to consider the longevity of the battery, as the battery will degrade over time.
Tesla guarantees each vehicle’s battery for eight years or 100,000 miles, with some having a 150,000 warranty. Even after 150,000 miles of daily recharges, Tesla promises that the battery should still be able to hold at least 70% of its capacity. . And in most cases, the battery will remain much healthier than 70%. That’s way better than Chevrolet’s 3-year/36,000-mile warranty on new vehicles.
In the United States, depending on the model and manufacturer, almost all electric vehicles sold have a battery warranty of at least 8 years. This means the biggest concern in a used EV is the battery, which comes with a pretty good warranty and can often last 10-20+ years.
expect less range
Most electric vehicles have large lithium-ion battery packs that power the motors instead of gasoline, but as we said earlier, the battery will degrade over time. Just like your three-year-old iPhone probably won’t hold a charge as long as it did the day you bought it, an old EV battery won’t last as long.
If a new EV can go 300 miles on a charge, one with an older battery and more than 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 that after eight years or 100,000 miles, the battery may still hold more than 70% of its full capacity. And while that’s pretty good, it’s not great, but the technology gets better every day. I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone to buy an original first-generation Tesla Model S with high mileage, but everyone.
So does mileage matter?
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 would say the same for gasoline vehicles. If a gasoline car with 180,000 miles has an engine or transmission failure, most owners will probably 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 will always matter when buying a vehicle and trying to get the most value for your money. That said, there’s less to worry about in a high-mileage EV than there is in an older gas vehicle.
Finally, as technology improves and advances, electric vehicle battery replacements could become easier and more affordable in the future. Electric vehicles are still in the early stages, so we will 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 failure or spend $3,500 on a new transmission. So if you find a used electric vehicle you like, go ahead and buy it.