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Guide to buying a used electric car

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June 8, 2021
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Cheap to run, emission-free, exempt from road tax… no wonder more people than ever are looking to buy a used electric car. The team at Adrian Flux have put together this guide to buying your first second-hand EV.

Should I make the switch to a used electric car?

Pre-loved, pre-owned, second-hand or used electric vehicle – whatever you call it, you will need to consider if an electric vehicle is right for you and your lifestyle.

EVs are great for some, but others find a fuel-efficient petrol, diesel or hybrid car is a more suitable option, especially if you don’t have easy access to a garage, off-road parking or a place to install a charging point.

If you are able to install a charging point at home the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) provides grant funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installation at domestic properties across the UK.

If you can’t install a charge point at home you will have to rely on the UK’s charging network which is growing daily, but in rural areas coverage is still pretty sparse. And when you find somewhere to top up your battery, there is no guarantee it will be working or that it is not already in use.

You should also consider the mileage you do. A lot of motorway cruising will give your battery a bruising as it will lose charge faster at motorway speeds. The short urban cycle however will help limit battery power loss.

used electric car
Photo by Mike from Pexels.

What do I look out for when I inspect a second-hand electric car?

Forget the old telltale signs of a bad buy such as dripping oil, rusty jubilee clips and smoking exhausts when you inspect a used electric car. Compared to its petrol or diesel counterpart there are very few moving parts on an EV and that means there’s not too much that can go wrong.

However, check the tyres are inflated properly and in good condition, that wheel trims are in good order, and check the suspension because electric cars have huge batteries, which are very heavy.

You should also check the brakes. EVs charge their batteries from regenerative braking, which occurs when you ease off the accelerator. This can be strong enough to make normal braking unnecessary. Worn brakes may suggest the car has been driven badly, as under normal driving, brakes on an EV should last longer than on a petrol or diesel.

EVs also tend to come laden with gadgets — expect a satnav, air-con, pre-set climate control and all manner of driver assistance safety systems, such as lane control, parking assist, emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. It’s a good idea to check over them all to ensure they are in good order.

Only consider a used electric car that has a full service history as it will show if it has been serviced regularly and has had all its software updates.

How much can I afford to pay for a used electric car?

Much like buying a petrol or diesel car, you will need to set your budget before hitting the second-hand car lots.

The good news is that EVs have been around for quite a while now and there are models on the second-hand market to suit most budgets. While a pre-owned top-end Tesla will still set you back tens of thousands of pounds you can pick up a second-hand electric car for around £7,000-£8,000.

When you look at the price ticket on the windscreen, check the battery status as in some cases it is not included. That seems a little silly – like buying a car without the engine – but in many early models, the batteries were leased. If that’s the case, you’ll have to consider an additional monthly charge.

How good will the battery be on a used EV?

Generally, the older the car, the fewer miles it will be able to do between charges. And don’t forget, the battery will lose power and take longer to charge the older it gets.

This may not be as big a problem as you imagine — especially if you have a home charging point — because 95% of car journeys in the UK are under 25 miles.

Battery capacity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and the range is directly related to this. The larger the battery size, the greater the range.

If your battery is underperforming, check the warranty that came with it. Most EVs come with a separate battery warranty and it usually runs for longer than the car’s warranty. Most older electric car batteries have an eight year warranty, newer models tend to have five year warranties.

How can I preserve my used electric car’s battery life?

Batteries tend to lose around 2% of charging capacity each year, but  that can vary depending on how well you look after it. To help maintain optimum power, avoid excessive fast charging, avoid charging to the maximum and don’t allow the battery to discharge below 20%.

used electric car
Photo by Ernest Ojeh from Unsplash.

How much will it cost to insure a used EV?

It may not cost as much as you think to insure a used electric car. Many insurers remain wary of the new technology in EVs, often penalising motorists because of fears over the costs of repairs but, as a specialist broker that has been in the electric vehicle insurance market from the beginning, Adrian Flux can offer tailor made cover at a competitive cost.

For a value for money quote for your used electric car insurance call 0800 369 8590 — 81.5% of all customers receiving an online quote in August 2022 could have obtained a cheaper quote over the phone, based on the information they provided.

Adrian Flux policies are especially competitive if you’ve been quoted more than £2,000 for your insurance. If you have, give us a call and challenge us to beat your best quote.

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