Like buying anything pre-owned, buying a used car – whether gas or electric – always comes with risks, although EVs have unique considerations. Here are six crucial things every shopper should check before buying a used electric car:

Battery history

The battery is the heart of an electric car, and its health is paramount. When considering any used EV, it’s critical to learn about its battery history. 

Some manufacturers provide some of this information, but you can also use third-party tools for a neutral perspective. Recurrent Reports are free for most dealership-sold vehicles and offer detailed insights into vehicle, battery and range. 

Sample Recurrent Report for a used EV
Part of the information on a free Recurrent Report

Expected range

The range of an electric car changes slightly with age. This is a natural process called battery degradation. While shoppers should not be too afraid of this, they should be aware of it and make a purchase with reasonable expectations of the car’s current max range. 

Illustration of battery degradation in electric cars

Recurrent Reports are generally free for used EVs sold at dealerships and include a vehicle’s expected range today and expected range in 3 years. This information is generated by comparing one car to thousands of similar cars that are actively connected to the Recurrent platform.

Vehicle history

A vehicle history report is standard for any used car purchase, including EVs. Services like AutoCheck can provide detailed histories, including previous ownership, accident reports, title status, and service records. Look for red flags such as salvage titles, frequent ownership changes, or consistent service issues. 

For EVs, also check for any recalls specific to the model (for example, Chevy Bolt) and ensure they have been addressed. 

Tax credit eligibility

Over 30% of used EVs are eligible for a federal tax credit or point-of-sale rebate up to $4,000. There are some vehicle and buyer eligibility criteria that you can check for free. 

Software and firmware updates

Electric cars often receive software updates that can improve performance, enhance features, and fix bugs. Check if the used EV has received regular software updates and inquire about the process for future updates. 

Some updates may require visits to the dealership, while others can be done over the air. Ensure the car is up to date with the latest software to take advantage of the newest features and improvements.

Maintenance and service history

While electric vehicles generally have lower maintenance needs than gas cars, they still require regular upkeep, like tire rotations and alignments. Review the service history to ensure the car has been properly maintained. 

Consistent maintenance records indicate a well-cared-for vehicle, which can translate to fewer problems down the road.

Warranty coverage

We mentioned the battery warranty in the “Battery history” section, but it’s so important that we’ll expand on it here. It’s worth taking time to investigate the remaining warranty coverage on the EV, which is outlined on the free Recurrent Report.

EV battery warranty example of a Recurrent Report
The battery warranty summary on a free Recurrent Report

Electric vehicles typically come with two types of warranties: the basic vehicle warranty and the high-voltage battery warranty. The battery warranty is particularly important as it often extends longer than the general vehicle warranty and covers the most expensive components in the vehicle. Knowing what is still covered can provide peace of mind and save money on potential repairs. Check the terms and conditions to see if the warranty is transferable to a new owner and if there are any specific conditions that need to be met.

Don’t be afraid to buy used electric cars

Our #1 piece of advice is to not be afraid of used electric cars. Battery failure is very rare and these cars are holding up much longer than most people expected – even hundreds of thousands of miles. 

If you do your homework and pay a reasonable price, you should be really happy with your purchase. 

Want more info on battery health? Download the used EV e-book