Buying a used electric car can seem like a high risk when it comes to range, as the battery deteriorates over time. So how can you be sure the battery and car are in good condition?
Buying a used electric car makes it possible to start driving electric vehicles at a (relatively) lower cost. This choice can be made for the second car in the house, but also as the main vehicle with some care at the time of purchase. As with any car, buying a used electric car requires checking the general condition of the vehicle (bodywork, interior, brakes, steering, legal documents, etc.) and reading the Car-Pass instructions for a private purchase. . But, of course, the most important thing is autonomy and load capacities. For the latter, the vehicle’s online specifications based on the specific model (power, number of drive wheels, battery, model year) provide indications on the maximum charging speeds in alternating and direct current. It is important to verify, for certain models, whether the fast charging options and/or the heat pump are installed, namely by requesting the presentation of the vehicle’s original purchase invoice.
- Carefully check model specifications according to year, power and battery
- Check the options related to charge and autonomy (heat pump) on the purchase invoice
- Check mileage (via Car-Pass)
What to take?
Before buying an electric car, used or not, it is important to have adequate sockets or terminals at home and/or at work. Those that work with a Type 2 connection with a maximum speed of 22 kW. It is also this type of equipment that is often found along the walks. Without charging capability at a daily location, it’s difficult to switch to fully electric. Especially since the DC fast charge speeds of older models rarely reach 100 kW. And that some Japanese cars still use ChaDeMo sockets that aren’t as ubiquitous as the Combo CCS, which has become standard in Europe and America. For a used car, the presence of Type 2 cable is essential. A transformer socket for connecting the car to a standard wall socket is an advantage, but not essential when you have easy access to one or more “slow” AC terminals with a Type 2 socket.
- Mandatory presence of a Type 2 socket with the appropriate cable
- In case of regular long journeys, prefer Combo CCS to ChaDeMo for DC loads
- Check the condition of the plug and cable
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An electric car older than 2 years will no longer reach its maximum WLTP range. The battery state can, however, remain satisfactory with an average loss of 2% per year. However, this depends on the number of fast charge cycles performed and the charging conditions (the worst is fast charging a completely drained battery to 100% charge). It is impossible to visually identify the being of a battery. However, it is possible to estimate its autonomy through the on-board computer. This can indicate the capacity level and remaining range according to the vehicle’s historical average consumption. A rule of three thus makes it possible to guess the maximum range.
It is also possible to obtain a battery health certificate. This requires the equipment to be connected to the OBU. Usually reserved for professionals, this type of case provides a certified document that can give you a good overview of the battery’s condition. A seller, therefore, has every interest in being able to present this type of document obtained from specialized companies. Manufacturers generally offer a warranty of 70% battery capacity after a certain age (8-10 years) and mileage limits. It is always possible to replace deteriorated cells without having to change the entire battery.
- Check the range via the on-board computer
- Check the manufacturer’s warranties for the battery
- Prefer a car with a battery integrity certificate
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Test the car
As with any used car purchase, it is important to be able to test drive the vehicle. In addition to the traditional care regarding the vehicle’s condition and its behavior on the road, this is the time to check the discharge speed. To do so, you must show the remaining range on the dashboard and request a road test of at least 50 km, if possible by highway (preferably on the motorway). When turning on the air conditioning, the on-board computer will report the presence or absence of the heat pump. If the autonomy suddenly drops, it is clearly a classic compressor system, very energy intensive. With a heat pump, the loss of autonomy rarely exceeds 15 km.
At the end of the test, you will be able to evaluate the discharge speed and the real range according to your driving style. You must also ask to be able to connect the vehicle to a quick terminal (CCS Combo or ChaDeMo) and check the charging speed, as well as the procedure for connecting and disconnecting the socket. Attention: it will depend on the car and the terminal, the number of vehicles that charge at the station and the state of the electrical network. But nevertheless it gives a good indication of the capabilities of the vehicle. Finally, if the car is linked to a billing agreement with automated billing, it is necessary to check the clauses of this agreement and the conditions for changing users.
- Test drive at least 50 km on highways or expressways
- Connect the air conditioning to see the drop in autonomy
- Test the connection with a quick terminal.
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