A Guide to Buying a Second-Hand Electric Car

This guide gives helpful tips and advice, so you’re confident when choosing and buying a second hand electric car.

Last updated: Jul 24, 2024 10 min read

Luke close up Solo 3 image

Summary:

Buying a second hand electric car is a more affordable way to go electric. You can bypass wait times and higher list prices when you pick a used electric vehicle (EV), and save money when you start charging your car at home.

Should I buy a second hand electric car?

Second hand electric cars are a good buy if you’re looking to get an EV but don’t want to pay the full list price, especially if you can get one where the battery is still under warranty. That’s because most electric cars come with 7 to 8 years of battery warranty or have leased batteries. This means the manufacturer will fix battery issues free of charge within warranty by repairing or replacing your battery.

If you’re thinking of buying a second hand electric car with a battery that’s out of warranty, look out for signs of good battery health, such as a low degradation of total capacity and a regular service history. A car like this should be priced appropriately, but if that’s not the case, try negotiating with the seller to price in a potential repair or replacement.

Like with any internal combustion engine (ICE) car, you’ll also want to check universal car parts such as tyres, window wipers, lights, and brakes before you commit to buying a second hand electric car.

Top tips for buying a second hand electric car

Here’s an overview of our top tips for buying a second hand electric car:

  1. Pick a type of electric vehicle

  2. Find the right make and model

  3. Get advice from the community

Pick a type of electric vehicle

If you want to travel using battery power, you’ll have the choice between a full battery electric vehicle (BEV) or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

Full battery electric vehicle

BEVs, often generally what we refer to as electric cars, are the only way to get the full benefits of electric motoring. They’re the greenest and most future-proof option.

Electric car technology is improving with each new model that is released, particularly in terms of their range. This means second hand cars will typically have less range compared to their newer variants.

That said, if you pick a more recent used model, you should still get a respectable range that will cover your day-to-day journeys with ease.

Pros Cons 
Greenest option

Limited range in earlier models

Low running costs

More frequent charging is necessary
Immediate acceleration
Good handling, low centre of gravity

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles

PHEVs offer some battery-powered miles from plug-in charging and a petrol or diesel engine to power longer journeys.

For the average driver, this works fine. Short commutes are covered by electric power, while the combustion engine provides a safety net, so you don’t get stuck when charging isn’t available.

The downside is that the electric range of plug-in hybrids is limited to around 50 miles and still relies on fossil fuel. PHEVs also carry extra weight because they hold a battery and engine. If you don’t charge the battery, you’re burning more fuel to carry the extra weight for no benefit. So while charging the battery isn’t absolutely necessary, it’s critical to achieving efficiency and low running costs.

Pros Cons 
Easy to adopt

Limited environmental benefit

Petrol or diesel back up option

Inefficient when using combustion engine only

Find the right make and model

So you’ve decided which type of EV interests you, now it’s time to research and find the right make and model for your needs.

Before you pick an EV, you should consider some key factor including:

  1. Budget – how much are you willing or able to spend on an EV? If your budget is limited, check out makes and models that are generally more affordable or older models with more miles that are still reliable.

  2. Range – do you need an EV with a higher than average range or will a range of 150 to 250 miles be enough? Consider your typical week of driving and how often you’d have to charge your battery. If you regularly drive long distances, you should make sure your vehicle can rapid charge to continue trips without lengthy disruptions.

  3. Size – how much space do you need? If you’re simply commuting to work most of the time with just a work bag in your car, you likely only need a compact EV like a hatchback. However, if you regularly transport large items or drive with passengers, you may want a bigger EV like an SUV or estate.

We recommend browsing the Pod Point Vehicle Guides for key information on available models. You can filter by make, range and plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles to focus your search.

Get advice from the community

EV drivers are often passionate advocates of their technology. They actively participate in communities set up online and attend regular real-life meet-ups.

Many EV drivers would be delighted to give you tips on what the best models are and what to look out for when buying a used electric car.

There are many EV forums, here are two of the leading ones:

You can also find a number of brand/model specific forums:

Tip: In our experience, these communities are thrilled to meet new members and answer their queries. The level of knowledge they possess is really high and we recommend you take a look before buying a second hand EV.

What to look for when buying a used electric car

Once you’re set on a model and make, it’s worth looking out for a few things when buying a used electric car:

  1. Model-specific issues

  2. Battery degradation

  3. Ongoing maintenance

  4. Charging options

Model-specific issues

Just like a petrol or diesel vehicle, used electric cars have their own snags. Different models will have unique trouble signs, and this is where the brand/model specific online forums can be invaluable to get a sensible checklist for your viewing and test drive.

Battery degradation

A universal concern with used electric cars is battery degradation, particularly within BEVs which rely on battery power only.

Electric drive trains are quite simple contraptions, consisting of a battery and electric motor(s). Electric motors are extremely reliable, with no metal-on-metal wear, but over time the batteries will degrade and they’re expensive to repair and replace.

The good news is that rates of battery degradation have proven to be lower than feared in EVs. However, different makes and models vary in performance in this area.

Again, asking an EV forum is a great place to start your research. When you view a second hand electric car, ask to see the battery capacity to assess degradation.

Ongoing maintenance

With no head gaskets, cam-belts, exhausts, clutches or spark plugs to change, and brake pads that often will last the life of the car, BEVs or electric car maintenance is mostly simple. Occasional cleaning, keeping washer fluid topped up and changing tyres is what you can expect.

PHEVs tend to be more complex, because they still have a combustion engine. Online forums are still a good source for advice on how best to maintain them.

Tip: Tesla models have an online crowd-sourced feed that shows battery degradation over time, and it is truly impressive with just ~7% degradation over 250,000 miles.

Charging options

To really get the most out of an EV, you want to be able to charge it when you are busy doing other things. The best time for this is probably overnight at home. It’s also the cheapest option available to you.

If you can get a home charger, we strongly recommend it. Start your home charge installation journey with Pod Point online.

Workplace charging is another great option for regular charging, and the Pod Point Network offers thousands of other charging opportunities at public destinations.

How much are second hand electric cars?

While new EVs are still more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents, you’re able to get a second hand electric car for as little as £5,000. The price will be depending on factors such as the condition of the vehicle (e.g. battery health and capacity, cosmetic damage) and popularity of the make and model.

Best value second hand electric car

What the best value EV is will depend on your budget. Let’s put it this way – if a brand new Tesla Model 3 isn’t affordable for you, but a reliable, 3-year-old second hand model is, then that’s the best value you can get for your money.

Check car sale sites offering second hand electric cars like Auto Trader or Motorpoint to find and compare available used EVs.

Second hand EV depreciation

Depreciation is the reason a second hand EV is cheaper than a new one. It takes into consideration wear and tear and ageing of technology. On average, an EV will depreciate 40 to 49% in the first three years after registration, while ICE cars depreciate up to 60% in the same time.

So if you buy a second hand electric car that is a few years old, you could save up to half of its original listing price. That’s a potential saving of thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds!

Can you get a grant for second hand electric cars?

There are currently no grants available for the purchase of a second hand electric car, but you may be eligible for the OZEV grant.

The EV chargepoint grant from the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) offers people owning a flat or living in rented accommodation with dedicated off-street parking up to £350 off the cost of buying and installing an EV home charger.

Find out if you’re eligible for the OZEV Grant on gov.uk. As part of the scheme, you must choose an approved chargepoint – our Solo Charger is OZEV-authorised!

Is a second hand electric car tax deductible?

While a new fully electric car is eligible for a full tax deduction in the first year after purchase, second hand electric cars only qualify for a partial tax deduction. As a registered business, you can claim capital allowance on the purchase price of a second hand EV at a rate of 18%.

Some nearly new cars like ex-demonstrator cars may still be classed as new by HMRC, making them eligible for a full tax deduction in the first year. For this to apply, the EV must have a low mileage and have been driven for testing and delivery only.