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Used electric car guide – how to buy a second-hand electric car

With a growing amount of choice available, a used electric car guide could prove fruitful for those wanting an EV.

By February 2021, there were more than 455,000 plug-in electric vehicles on the UK’s roads.

Of those, 240,000 are plug-in hybrids, and 215,000 are all-electric models.

Drivers switching to an EV, or electric vehicle, is on the rise particularly since the UK government has decided that from 2030, you will not be able to buy a petrol or diesel fuel car.

Now, fortunately, there are growing numbers of electric cars coming to the second-hand market.

But, as with buying a used car, this can be a daunting experience.

There are a number of issues to consider, and this guide will help you understand whether an EV is right for you and your needs.

Do I need an EV?

The first step when buying a used electric car is to determine what your needs are.

Essentially, a used car needs to fit in with your lifestyle and your budget.

This also applies to electric cars which are an excellent solution for many drivers, but for the time being, some may simply be better suited with hybrid, diesel or fuel-efficient petrol alternatives.

Why? Let’s take a look closer look at the reasons:

  • Charging: you need to charge an electric car either by installing a charging point or have a garage or off-road parking. Not having these means switching to an electric car could be an issue.
  • Alternatively, you could charge your car at work or on the increasingly growing charging network. Facilities such as ZapMap reveal the charging point locations.
  • Miles: Consider how many miles you will be travelling, and if you do lots of motorway miles then an electric car may also not be suitable.

One of the issues with an EV is that when travelling at speed on motorways, a fully charged battery loses its charge more quickly than you will do when driving around the city.

Electric car charging option

Having mentioned the issue of recharging a car, you will need to appreciate what is involved.

All electric cars sold today will come with a standard charging cable that fits a three-pin plug in the UK. That’s an easy way to recharge your EV.

Or you could invest in an EV charging station that will recharge the battery more quickly and there are currently government incentives to help with this cost.

When buying a used electric car, if the EV you are looking at is an older version, it may only have two-or five-pin charging sockets.

And if you fancy a Tesla, for example, the Model S, then you need to sign-up with their Supercharger network, and you’ll need a different type of charger since these will be incompatible with most other EV chargers.

Buying a used electric car – what to look for

There’s no doubt about the biggest issue that comes with buying a used electric car – and that’s the state of the battery.

You need to know how well the batteries will keep their charge because if you have trouble maintaining the batteries’ energy, you can be looking at a hefty cost to replace the battery pack.

Most manufacturers are now offering battery warranty to cover any issues, but these are usually limited to eight years, currently.

Battery warranty

Having said that batteries are usually warranted for eight years, this is usually longer than for the car’s standard warranty.

However, some EVs will have a shorter five-year warranty, so it’s worth checking.

Also, ensure the electrics work because EVs have lots of electrical equipment and gadgets that need to function.

Tips for buying a used electric car

Other tips for buying a used electric car include:

  • Take the car for a spin
  • Do your research
  • Buy from a reputable dealer offering a used car warranty
  • If buying from a private seller, do so at their home
  • Check the tyres and bodywork for scratches and dents
  • Check everything electrical
  • Check the glass for cracks
  • Check the upholstery for wear and tear
  • Check the documents – this is crucial.

This means that you should be checking the registration document or logbook, which is the V5C.

The registration number on this document should match the number plate.

The vehicle identification number should match the number below the windscreen.

Vehicle history check

It’s always worth spending a small amount on a vehicle history check which will reveal whether the EV has been stolen, written off and will have details that should match the car you are looking at. Instant Reg Check offer a full report for just £7.99 when you use their car reg check service.

Essentially, you want to know how to buy a second-hand electric car and this use electric car guide has revealed most of the information you need, but always rely on gut instinct.

If your EV deal sounds too good to be true, or you suspect the seller may not be the owner, then walk away. It’s better to save your money than being tricked into buying what could be a stolen or dodgy electric car.