Let's rewind to the beginning of the year. With the waiting lists gone, no one was going to pay more than the price of a new Model 3 than a used one, so the values fell dramatically. Dealers who had them in stock got their fingers burned, sold the cars on their forecourts to anyone who would have them, usually at a loss - and then refused to buy any more.
As a result, prices of used Model 3 dropped an average of 25% in six months – losing £8,775 of their value. That’s a big deal and obviously pretty bad news if you are a dealer or a current owner, as your Tesla – or Teslas – are worth less if you need to sell.
But it does mean that – suddenly – a used Model 3 looks like exceptional value to an electric car buyer. Prices are starting to creep up again though, so we think NOW is the time to grab one.
Used Tesla Model 3 insurance
Before you get too excited though, get an insurance quote. For reasons we’ve covered in a video brokers HATE Teslas. They are in the same group as Porsches and Ferraris, so you need to make sure you can get cover.
If you are more ‘mature’ and a careful driver then it might not be too much of an issue, but younger drivers living in cities won’t want to find out after putting down a deposit that it’s going to be uninsurable.
Used Tesla Model 3 prices
As of today, the cheapest Model 3 we could find was £21,695 – and that is for a late 2019 car with just 101,000 miles on the clock. Which is a high mileage but it at least shows that these cars can do long distances!
If you want something a little more representative, then how about a 2020 Standard Plus with 17,000 miles for around £28,000? That’s great value for a car which costs at least £40,000 new. Nearly new cars and 'pre-registered' demo models are available from Tesla direct with big discounts too, so click on the 'Current Inventory' section of the website and take a look.
Where to buy a used Tesla Model 3
The safest and easiest place to find a used Model 3 is on Tesla’s own site. You know that they will have checked over the car and will generally pick the best from the stock they get back. The listings show the mileage and location but there are few other details and the pictures are generic, which is a bit off-putting, but you will have access to the same finance you’d get on a new car.
If you are using some other form of finance then there are still plenty of independent dealers who sell Model 3s and they are generally cheaper than Tesla themselves. Some of these will offer the same level of checks and guarantees as buying from Tesla, but there are some things you should know before going to kick the tyres.
First, you need to look at the year of the car. In 2020, the Model 3 got a host of improvements and updates. The most obvious was the ‘de-chromed’ darker trim like the door handles. But there was more to it than that – most importantly there were heated seats/steering wheel and a heat pump to improve winter efficiency.
These cars are more desirable for all these reasons, so are worth seeking out – even if they are a little more expensive.
Used Tesla Model 3 - colours and trim
You might also think it’s worth paying a little more for a colour. Pearl white is the only ‘free’ shade, and as a result is the most popular. If you want to stand out a little more when buying a new Model 3, you have to pay an extra £1,100 for black, grey or blue and a whopping £2,100 for the red. They are worth several hundred more when used too.
The same goes for the wheels. The 18-inch ‘Aero wheels are standard but you can upgrade to 19s for an extra £1,500. Be warned though – these are less aerodynamic and knock 12 miles off the range!
Some owners just take the plastic wheel caps off thinking it improves the looks. That also knocks miles off the range – so make sure the original Aero covers are included.
Also check for damage – it should be quite obvious on the black wheels but might not be as visible on the silver. Chunks out of the tyres could be expensive too, so budget £200 for replacement rubber from a decent brand.
The other main option is the ‘premium’ interior. This changes the seats from black to white and swaps the wood trim for metal. It brightens up the inside but isn’t the most practical. If you like wearing jeans, the seats stain and it’s almost impossible to fix – so check to see if the previous owner was a Demin lover too.
There is one last extra and it’s a big one. The so-called self driving. The original owner could’ve paid up to £6,800 extra for what Tesla calls “Full Self Driving Capability” which must sting a little, as it has never worked properly in our experience. There are a few nice parts to it, but it's nothing much more than you’d get on some rivals.
If you get a car from Tesla, they will usually wipe this function off the car and make you pay again, but that won’t happen normally if you buy from an independent dealer or private sale. It’s up to you if you want to pay extra though!
While we are talking about tech, bear in mind that the Model 3 doesn’t use a conventional key. You use either a card like a hotel room key or an app. Make sure they work with the car you are trying and that the previous owner is deleted or they’ll be able to play all sorts of havoc. You don’t want the car doing a sound and light show in the middle of the night….
You can do this in the keys list, which is in the menus on the central screen. Bear in mind that many Model 3s will have been bought as pool cars or used for rentals and subscriptions, so there could have been a lot of users!
That can also mean some 3s look a bit tired and uncared for, so have a look in places like the boot and rear cabin for signs of abuse.
Used Tesla Model 3 damage
Then there is the damage you’ll need to look MUCH closer for. If a car seems cheap, there is usually a reason.
Insurers have told us that Model 3s get crashed more than rivals, as owners just aren’t used to the instant acceleration. As parts are in short supply, some will skimp by repairing parts rather than replacing or even using second-hand panels. That may be OK – but you’ll need to make sure it has been done properly, so look down the side of both sides and look for ripples.
Have a look for uneven panel gaps too – but sometimes this is due to poor factory build quality rather than crash damage.
A cracked sunroof is a sign that a Model 3 has been in a heavy shunt though, and replacing it won’t fix it as the entire car will be bent and it will just crack again! So walk away quickly…
If you get through all of that and are happy, then go for it. The Model 3 is an Electrifying favourite, and you can now buy a lightly-used one for the same price as some much less interesting rivals. So grab one of these while they are still cheap, or don’t say we didn’t warn you!