You're at the right place if you want to buy or know more about Tesla's used models. There's no doubt that they're still good buys.
However, you need to know potential problems you may face and how to navigate them, especially when you want to buy a used Tesla manufactured before 2016.
For a start, take a look at the trends of Tesla used models:
Tesla started producing its first vehicle model in 2009, called the Roadster sports car. It's followed by the Model S sedan in 2012, the 2015 Model X SUV, the 2017 Model 3 sedan, and the 2020 Model Y crossover.
At present, there are four models available. They're Model S, Model X, Model Y, and Model 3. The Model 3 has become the all-time best-selling electric car. It became the first ever electric vehicle to sell one million units in the world in June 2021.
Problems people face when buying a used Tesla manufactured before 2016
Tesla has had its share of problems with its car models like crash-reported cases, battery and motor issues, and recalls.
Even, Consumer Reports, as part of its annual reliability report on cars, has said it won't recommend the Model S because the vehicle's predicted reliability is below average.
According to Consumer Reports, "The main problem areas involved the drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment, giant iPad-like center console, and body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks."
Generally, here are the common issues with the used Teslas designed before 2016:
1. Quality control issues
You're likely to witness quality control problems on used Teslas, especially with the Model S or X. They have a few problems such as the inability to retract door handles and center screen issues.
Some quality control items and issues like paint discoloration and unsightly panel gaps can be small that you may not even notice.
2. Media Control Unit (MCU) problem
The MCU failure is one of the common issues in the Tesla older models, especially with Model S. MCU is the computer that operates the instrument cluster and touchscreen. MCU problem affects all Model S produced from 2012 to 2018, given that they used the MCU first version.
3. Suspension arm problem
This issue is common in Tesla's old models. Several Model S drivers have reported problems with their vehicles’ suspension control arms, which crack and break off from the ball joint it is attached to.
According to NHTSA, this problem is most common in the 2012- 2017 model years.
4. Drive unit problems
This problem is also prevalent with Model S old versions from 2012 -2014. The drive unit contains the inverter, electric motor, drivetrain cooling system, and reduction gears.
Drivers mostly complain of milling or grinding sounds in acceleration, caused by bad bearings. They also report the model S constant noise.
Other problems you may face with used Teslas before 2016 are electric motors' replacement, battery packs leaking cooling pumps, warped brake rotors, door handles' failure to slide out, several squeaks and rattles, and dead windshield wipers, consistent alignment problems with the wheels, and misaligned latches.
What You Should Do
Often people get into problems with batteries when buying a Tesla car produced before 2016. There are installed old typeof batteries, whose cells are dying and must be replaced. Before buying such a car, it is imperative to inspect these units. Ev’s Republic diagnostics service includes 28 check parameters to get an overview of the current state of the car.