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How To Avoid Pitfalls When Buying a Second-Hand Electric Car.

buying a second-hand electric car

Sales of second-hand electric cars in the UK reached record highs in 2022, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).   

In Shropshire, there's been a huge rise in electric vehicles across the county

used EV sales

By buying a second-hand EV, you can avoid the limited availability, long wait times, and high prices of new electric cars. 

In this guide, we'll walk you through the key things to consider when shopping for a used electric vehicle.


  1. Is buying second-hand worth it ?
  2. The benefits of buying a used EV.
  3. Popular EV Models.
  4. Where to buy from.
  5. Buying from a dealer or private seller.
  6. Service history / Software updates.
  7. Tyre & brake condition.
  8. Battery condition & range.
  9. Charging speeds & cables.
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Is buying a used electric vehicle worth it?

Yes, it can be! Just be sure to do your research and check for the usual things you would with any used car.

There are also some specific things to consider when it comes to buying a second-hand electric vehicle.  

The benefits of buying a used electric car

  • Upfront savings compared to new.
  • Extended warranties. 
  • EV batteries last a long time.
  • Excellent resale values.
  • Immediate delivery.

Top Gear's Top Ten Popular EV Models 

Below is the top ten most popular electric cars according to Top Gear

  1. Porsche Taycan
  2. Tesla Model 3
  3. Hyundai Ioniq 5
  4. Audi e-tron GT
  5. Honda e
  6. BMW iX
  7. Skoda Enyaq iV
  8. Tesla Model Y
  9. Ford Mustang Mach-E
  10. Renault Megane E-Tech

Where should you buy a used EV? 

Well, depending on what brand or model, franchised dealers should be at the top of your list.

They are likely to have a good selection of the brand or model you're interested in and have expert knowledge and training on the specific brands they represent.   

What about buying a used electric vehicle from a private seller?

Buying an EV from a private seller

Buying a used electric car from a private seller is another option and can save you some money, but you need to be aware of the risks.   Be aware and check:

  • You have fewer legal rights.
  • V5 document has sellers name.
  • Vehicle is as described.
  • Always ask why the car is for sale ?
  • If the price is too good to be true ....it probably is!
  • For a small fee, services such as HPI will tell you if the car's been reported as stolen, written off or saddled with outstanding finance.

Check service history.

Electric Car Service History Book

Regardless of the type of used vehicle you're looking at, it's important to make sure it's been properly serviced and maintained.

There are very few independent electric car specialists when it comes to servicing an electric car, as it requires specialist training.

This is especially true for used EVs, which are generally simpler and more reliable than traditional cars.

But there's one thing, in particular, to look out for in the service book: software updates.

These are crucial for EVs, so make sure the vehicle has received any necessary updates.

The same goes for accidents and repairs.

Electric vehicles need specialist knowledge to fix, so any work that has been done must be done to a proper standard by a trained technician.

The car's documentation should show this, so be sure to check it carefully.

Standard or EV Tyres? 

Electric Vehicle Tyres Vs Normal Tyres

Electric Vehicle Tyres

When buying a used electric vehicle, it's important to check that it has the proper tyres fitted for an EV.

Electric car tyres are designed differently from regular tyres to support the added weight of the vehicle's battery and to provide better grip and traction.

They have reinforced sidewalls to prevent bulging or bursting, and special tread patterns for improved road grip.

They are also made from a special rubber compound that helps absorb shocks and vibrations for a smoother, quieter ride. 

Although electric vehicles have plenty of power and torque, they are not particularly demanding on tyres.

This is thanks to something called traction control, which uses the electric motor's rapid power adjustment to reduce slipping.

This system is much quicker than the one used in traditional cars, so it helps keep the tyres in good condition.


Pay close attention to the brakes. Because EVs are heavy due to the weight of the battery, they can put more wear and tear on the brake pads, and discs.

So, be sure to check these areas carefully to make sure they're in good condition.

What about the battery range on a used electric car?

Electric Vehicle Range

When you're looking at a used EV, the most important thing to consider is the battery and its potential range. 

In general, newer models will have a longer range than older ones, since the technology has been improving quickly. 

Which car survey shows that reduced battery capacity (and therefore driving range) is far less of a problem for electric car owners than you might imagine. 

In fact, data shows that, on average, drivers reported only a minimal reduction in capacity (around 9% over seven years) as their car ages.

As the chart below shows, electric cars purchased in 2014 still have, on average, 91% of their original charge capacity.

Electric Vehicle Battery Capacity

A typical used electric car can travel somewhere between 100 and 250 miles on a full charge, with some premium models extending this to around 300 miles. 

But even within the same model, there can be major differences in range due to changes during the vehicle's life cycle. 

Make sure you check the health of the battery from the vehicle’s electronic menu. 

When looking at potential used EVs, it's a good idea to check if the vehicle has any open recalls or issues with its MOT history. 

GOV.uk provides this free tool on their website that allows you to check the car's registration number and see if it has any known issues. 

If the owner is unwilling to provide the registration number, it's a red flag and you should be wary of the vehicle.

Do your homework and make sure you know which version of the car will meet your needs before buying.

Check the SD Card for the Sat Nav is not missing.

SD Card For Sat Nav

When buying a used EV, it's important to check if the SD card is included.

These cards, which contain the vehicle's Sat Nav data, are removable and have a tendency to go missing in older EVs.

Newer EVs don't have SD cards, but if one is missing, it can't be replaced and will need to be programmed in by a dealer.

This can be a hassle and add to the cost of the vehicle, so it's best to check for the presence of the SD card before making a purchase.

Battery Lease: Own the battery not just the car

EV battery Lease

IMAGE CREDIT:  greencarfuture.com


One thing to be aware of when buying a used EV is the potential for a leased battery.

In the early days of EVs, some manufacturers offered two-part deals where the car and battery were sold separately.

The idea was that the battery would be replaced if its capacity fell below a certain level.

But this turned out not to be necessary, and many manufacturers dropped these programs.

So, if you're buying an older EV, make sure it doesn't have a leased battery, or you may end up with an unexpected monthly bill.

Charging speeds on a second-hand electric car

EV Charging

When you're comparing second-hand electric cars one thing to consider is charging speed.

Newer models are often able to charge faster than older ones, so if you're looking at two cars with the same battery capacity, the one that charges faster will need less time plugged in every time you need to recharge.

Charging speed is measured in kW, so be sure to look for this number when you're comparing different EVs.

The larger the number, the faster the car will charge. However, it's important to note that charging speed can vary depending on a number of factors, so a car with twice the charging rate won't always charge twice as fast.

But it will usually be a lot faster than a slower-charging model.

Check charging cables are included 

EV Charging Leads

When you're looking at a used EV, be sure to check that all the charging cables and plugs are included and in good condition.

You don't want to end up with an unexpected bill for new ones.

Over the past decade, there has been a lack of consensus among manufacturers about which charging cables and plugs to use, so different EVs come with different cables that may not be compatible with all charging points.

While you can always charge an EV from a regular three-point plug (as long as you have the right cable), the rate of charging is very slow.

So, if you want your EV to be truly useful, you'll need a cable that allows for a faster charge.

By checking all the charging equipment, you can make sure you're getting everything you need to keep your EV charged and ready to go.

Choose a used electric car with heated seats.

Heated Car Seats

One thing to consider when looking at used EVs is how they will keep you warm in cold weather.

Unlike traditional petrol or diesel cars, EVs produce very little heat and noise, which is great for efficiency and the planet.

But this can be a problem when it's cold outside, since the heat from the engine is usually used to warm the cabin.

To solve this, many manufacturers offer heated seats and a heated steering wheel, the most efficient ways to stay warm.

Some EVs come with these features as standard, while others charge extra for them. So, if you're looking at used EVs, check for cars with heated seats and a heated steering wheel, and test them to ensure they work.

Doing this ensures you're getting a car that will keep you cosy and warm in the winter.

FAQs on buying a second-hand electric car. 


Can you get tax relief on second-hand electric car?
Second-hand electric cars do not qualify for a full tax deduction.

Second-hand electric cars can claim 18% of the cost of the car year on year on a residual value basis.

When the car is sold, a balancing allowance can be claimed.

Is mileage important when buying a used electric car?
Pay attention to that high-mileage EV since, with fewer moving parts and no oil changes required, there's less to go wrong.

For example, there are a few Tesla Model S cars with more than 160,000 miles under their wheels and with more than 80% of their battery capacity remaining

How many miles is too many for an electric car?
Much like traditional-powered cars, electric cars made today are generally considered good for about 200,000 miles, but the longevity of an electric car's battery system depends on more than just miles.

In addition to mileage, you should look for overall battery degradation when shopping for a used electric car.

What should I look out for when test driving a used electric vehicle?

Test driving a used EV is very similar to test driving any vehicle but there are a handful of EV-specific things to watch out for:

  1. All EVs are very quiet when on the move, so when you take a used electric car for a test drive, listen out for any strange suspension noises or rattles from elsewhere in the car.
  2. You should also check the indicators and interior switches work.
  3. The friction brakes should also be tested for even wear and odd sounds.
  4. Don’t forget to try the different stages of brake regeneration, if applicable, to make sure they work as intended.

What type of electric car? BEV, PHEV, REx?

There are different types of electric cars to choose from:

  1. Full Battery Electrics Vehicles (BEV),
  2. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)
  3. Range Extended vehicles (REx) .

Here are the key things to consider when deciding which one to buy second hand:

BEVs are the future. They are the only way to get the full benefits of electric motoring.

They are also quickly improving with each new model released - particularly in terms of their range.

This means second hand cars will usually have limited range compared to their newer variants.

PHEV - The Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle seeks to offer the best of both worlds - electric miles, charged from a chargepoint, with a petrol engine as back-up for longer journeys.

For some users this is ideal, with typical commute type driving taking place under electric power, but the “safety net” of petrol power meaning they never fear getting stuck.

REX- There are only a few REx vehicles available, but they make an interesting form of PHEV, where a petrol generator is used to keep the battery charged, but petrol never drives the wheels.

The generator is lighter than a typical engine, so the car is more efficient than a traditional PHEV, and this can mean better electric range, efficiency and performance.

Albeit, it will still have less of each than a BEV variant will.


In conclusion, buying a used EV can be a great way to get a reliable and efficient vehicle at a lower cost.

While there are some specific things to consider, such as the battery and charging equipment, the process is similar to buying a used petrol or diesel car.

By doing your research and being careful, you can find a great deal on a used EV and enjoy the many benefits of electric vehicle ownership.

With the rapid growth of EVs in recent years, now is a great time to consider buying a used electric car and joining the EV revolution.

So is all the effort worth it? Yes, as it could enable you to join the switch to electric now, rather than waiting until you are forced to.

As the move to electric cars gathers pace, the used market will continue to grow. Knowing what to look for when buying a used EV will help you find the best car for the best price.










New Reg More than one year ago
As we all know, electric vehicles have good resale value. Last year, I put my electric car and personalized number plate on sale separately and got surprised. I got much better deals and made more money. In the UK, there are number plate enthusiasts who are ready to buy your personalized number plate at a good price. Just check out the free government site at "gov.uk" or the free vehicle valuation form at "Newreg.co.uk". BTW, electric vehicles are the future. Nice article; keep up the pace.
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