What to check on a used electric car
The good news is that many features you might have checked on a second-hand petrol car simply don’t exist on an electric car. With far fewer moving parts, there’s little that the layman can inspect under the bonnet. And no exhaust or gears to scrutinise. But do give the car a good visual inspection to check everything else is in working order.
It’s also vital to take the car for a test drive. Be on the lookout for unusual noises, bumps or vibrations as you go. If your chosen car is still available new, try to test drive a new model first. So you know what it should feel like to drive.
And if you’re new to electric vehicles, you should drive a couple of new models anyway. Just so you have an idea of how the driving experience differs when you go electric.
The electric car battery in second-hand vehicles
The battery is an electric car’s most valuable component. So it makes sense to ensure it’s in decent shape when looking for a used electric car. Ask to see the car when it’s fully charged and check what the information screen says about battery health. At the very least, count how many of the bars are full and check this against the warranty conditions. If you’re unsure, get a franchised dealer to check it for you.
Batteries are often guaranteed to have around 70% of their original capacity after seven years. And this guarantee is usually transferable (with Nissan and BMW, this transfer only applies to a private sale). If you’re buying second-hand from a garage, get crystal clear reassurance on whether the battery is covered by any warranty. Ask to have the details in writing and scrutinise them closely. If you’re buying privately, check the car’s ownership history carefully and, if necessary, call the manufacturer for advice.
If the battery needs replacing, the good news is that it might not cost as much as you fear. A replacement new battery for a first-generation Leaf, for example, cost just £4,920 in 2014. More recently, re-fabricated packs have dropped the price to around half that.
Even if the battery’s still got life in it, you can restore or even upgrade the battery pack. And the cost of doing this is only likely to come down, with more, older electric cars on the road.