Clark Howard

What Mileage Should I Target on a Used Electric Vehicle?

Money expert Clark Howard recommends used cars instead of new cars for almost everyone. Typically he likes you to buy a two- or three-year-old used car.

Of course, with a gas vehicle, there are some other checklist items to run through before you buy used.

But what about EVs? Because technology is evolving so fast, the majority of the conversation centers around new rather than used electric vehicles.

If you want to buy a used electric vehicle, what should you look for in terms of age and mileage?

That's what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.

I Want To Buy a Used Electric Vehicle. How Many Miles on the Car Represents Good Value?

How many miles should a used electric vehicle have on it if I’m looking to buy?

That's what a Clark listener asked on the Aug. 30 podcast.

Asked Rickey in Oklahoma: "I want to buy a used electric vehicle, but how many miles should it have? I'd buy a gas vehicle with 100,000 miles, but I don't think I'd by an EV with that many miles. What are your thoughts?"

Rickey brings up a great point. Evaluating a used EV isn’t the same as evaluating a used gas vehicle. There are new dynamics to consider.

“The key with an electric vehicle isn’t the miles on the odometer nearly as much as miles of range,” Clark says. “There are a number of first-generation electric vehicles that get 80, 100, 120 miles of supposed range.

“Those are so dirt cheap now as a used vehicle purchase for a local commuter because they are generations back of where the marketplace is.”

In addition to considering the range, it’s important to know that replacing spent batteries in EVs remains incredibly expensive. It’s important that you try to buy an EV with a battery that’s still covered under warranty.

“On the other hand, if you need [an electric vehicle] that is going to get you good range for road trips, probably you want to buy something that has less than 30,000 miles on the odometer,” Clark says.

“And when you buy that, you should have years and years and years of manufacturer’s warranty and mileage range available to you if a problem happens with the battery pack, which is the big expense with an electric vehicle.”

Used Electric Vehicles: The Sweet Spot

To buy a used electric vehicle, you should first identify how you’re going to use the car. If you’re only going to go around the block to the grocery store or make a short commute to and from work, you have more options. And you can look at cheaper, older EVs.

However, in that case, you need to be careful about how much life remains in the battery.

“So you look at those two things. The range you get from a fully charged battery pack. And how much additional life and miles and years the battery pack has as the combo of when it’s a decent purchase to buy that electric vehicle,” Clark says.

Of course, Clark drives a Tesla himself. And although there are some next-generation EVs in the pipeline, if you’re looking used, there’s really one option if you want something beyond a local commuter.

“If you want to do a lot of over-the-road trips, you only have one brand you can look at and one brand only. And that’s Tesla,” Clark says. “Because the charging network is a joke over the road for every other brand but Tesla.”

Final Thoughts

It’s possible to get a good deal on a used EV. Especially if you’re not planning to take any road trips.

Just be careful. Because if you buy something with a battery near the end of its life, what seems like a deal now could cost you big-time later.

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