Why Tesla Might Be the Worst Car to Buy Used

Tesla is a company that is constantly in the news, for better or for worse. Tesla’s cutting-edge vehicles always get a lot of press and attention when they first arrive, but unfortunately, the glitz has worn off for a lot of pre-owned Tesla buyers.

Tesla ranked as the best car to buy new

Recently, the research firm ISeeCars.com released a survey that put buying a Tesla new at No. 1. It was the Tesla Model 3, a luxurious electric sports sedan. The survey analyzed data from 6 million cars sold from August 2019 until January 2020 and looked for vehicles with the lowest price difference between new versions and one-year-old versions of the same model. In this regard, the Tesla Model 3 is a safe bet because there is very little price difference between new and used.

The Model 3 is not far behind at No. 2 in a survey released by U.S. News. In the luxury hybrid and electric sports sedan category, the Tesla Model 3 ranked near the top for cutting-edge technology, precise handling, extremely low operating costs, and quick acceleration.

High-tech features include an infotainment system that operates nearly everything from a single-center touchscreen. Unfortunately, because it controls all the features of the vehicle, it also turns out to be one of the Model 3’s biggest drawbacks because you have to look away from the road to perform even the simplest of tasks.

Buying Tesla used can be a nightmare

Tesla buyers need to be aware there are some serious drawbacks to buying used. Moving from hardware to a more software-oriented driving experience has its benefits, including Tesla’s self-driving features. Some used Tesla owners have discovered that this also means those benefits can be turned off remotely, without the new owner’s knowledge or consent.

This means that even if you buy a Tesla with thousands of dollars worth of fancy tech options, those might disappear through the click of someone’s mouse thousands of miles away. Recently, the enhanced autopilot on a Tesla Model S was removed remotely, along with several other features that totaled over $8,000. Since the software removal took place after the sale, none of the parties involved were even aware of it happening.

A used Model S horror story

Tesla Model S dual motor all electric sedan on display at Brussels Expo on JANUARY 09, 2020
The Tesla Model S | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

The car in question is a Tesla Model S, which was re-bought by Tesla due to a problem with its control screen in November of 2019. The vehicle was sold to an auction company, who in turn sold it to a dealership. All this time, the Model S was believed to be equipped with Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. An individual named Alec bought the car in December of 2019. He soon found out that both the software features were missing. When he took it in for repair, he was told that the automaker had intentionally removed the features back in November because the customer had not purchased them.

When the story broke, it caused a bit of an uproar because it simply did not seem fair that features could randomly be removed after purchase. Happily, according to the thread the new owner started on a forum, all has been set right. After Alec complained to Tesla, the company restored his autopilot and FSD features. Many on the forum think this is only because the story of them removing the software went viral and made the company look bad.

Even though the Tesla Model 3 was ranked the No.¬†1 car to buy new in a survey, it’s tough to overlook the fact that pre-owned Tesla buyers need to beware.