Guide to buying a used electric car

Five key issues to consider when buying a used electric car

Follow our guide to make sure that your used electric car-buying journey is trouble-free as well as emission-free

Used car buyers can now fulfil their electric dreams as a greater number of zero-emission-capable vehicles are becoming available on the market.

From tantalising Teslas to normal Nissans, there is a growing choice of cars available on forecourts.

However, in addition to the traditional checks a used car buyer might carry out to ensure a vehicle is right for them, there are also some unique elements that need to be considered for used EVs. 

Read our five-point guide to ensure your used car journey is trouble-free as well as emission-free:

1. Know your BEV from your PHEV

When choosing a used electric vehicle, do you know your BEV (battery electric vehicle) from your PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)? Reflex Vehicle Hire has produced a guide to the main technologies available, so you know what makes your vehicle go. You can see it here.

Your choices include a pure electric vehicle (BEV), which has no petrol or diesel engine and can typically cover 80-300 miles depending on the model and size of the battery; another choice is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which has a petrol or diesel engine and large battery that offers an electric-only range of 20-40 miles, depending on the model; a similar sounding choice, but a quite different car, is a hybrid. This cannot be plugged in (it recharges using the internal combustion engine) and has a much smaller battery, so its range is only between one and five miles; if you opt for a mild hybrid, it has no electric-only range. Instead, it uses electric assistance to reduce load on the engine during acceleration; finally, a Range Extended Electric Vehicle is a pure electric vehicle, with a small engine that recharges the battery when needed to allow the car to travel longer distances without plugging in.

2. Battery health

It is important to discuss battery condition with the dealer when sourcing a used electric vehicle. All batteries will lose range as they age, so confirm how much energy is retained on a full charge. The way batteries are charged can affect their performance, so no two cars will be the same. For example, if a car’s battery has been repeatedly run flat, then charged to 100%, it is likely to retain less energy than a battery that is regularly charged between 20-80%. Check the vehicle’s readout for its electric-only range and make sure you take a test drive to see if the battery depletes more quickly than expected. Most batteries have a long manufacturer warranty but confirm this is still valid. It is also important to check if the battery is sold with the car, or whether it is subject to a separate lease.

3. Check the charger

Every new electric vehicle comes with its own charging cable, so make sure yours is still with the car, as it is expensive to replace. If a cable is missing, or if it has been replaced with a non-OEM part, make sure this is reflected in the price. Check the cable for signs of wear and tear and make sure it works by plugging the car in for a charge. Obtain a price for installing a wall charger if you have space, or alternatively visit your nearest public charging point to make sure it is compatible and working.

4. Tyre condition

Electric vehicles are known for their excellent acceleration, with some achieving 0-62mph in as little as two to three seconds. But if you use all that power, then tyres are likely to wear out just as fast. Make sure you walk around the car and check the condition of the tyres. Also, check brake wear and try to assess the regenerative braking system in the wheels, as this is vital to making sure electric cars can achieve their stated range. 

5. Service history

Electric vehicles spend less time in the garage, as there are fewer moving parts, but they still need looking after by expert mechanics, especially hybrids that have a standard internal combustion engine to maintain. Look at the car’s service records to make sure it has been cared for; if there is a major service due, check it has been carried out. With hybrids, check the engine bay for any oil leaks and look under the oil cap. It should be clean, so look for sludge that could indicate coolant mixing with oil - a sign that the head gasket may have failed. 

For details on the wealth of used cars and vans available from Reflex Vehicle Sales visit our dedicated page on the Reflex Vehicle Hire website.


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