5 Things to Consider When Buying a Used EV

03rd Apr 2019

Renault ZOE being charged outside a building

The electric vehicle revolution is well underway, and the choices available to the general public are only growing with every year that passes.

However, the prices of new electric cars are a stumbling block for a number of potential buyers. According to recent research conducted by YouGov, 74% of motorists agree initial costs have been an obstacle when considering an EV.

So, what if you were to turn your hand to the second-market? Thousands of petrol and diesel cars are sold on the used car market everyday, so therefore it shouldn't be an issue when buying an electric car.

Electric vehicles are a different beast compared to the traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) powered car, so there are different considerations that need taking into account when buying one second-hand.

Below is a list of what you should consider when looking through the classifieds for a used EV.

Your Needs/Requirements

There's no avoiding the fact that current electric vehicles can't match their ICE powered counterparts for range, especially the older gens. As we all know though, you're opting for the EV car because it's a much cheaper to run on a daily basis.

It's quite simple really, you need to consider how far away your place of work is and how many miles you're going to be doing each week. It would be hard to recommend any electric vehicle to someone who does 25,000 miles a year up and down Britain's highways. However, if you're someone who only drives 40-80 miles a day, then any of the electric cars available on the used car market will do the job.

That consideration also needs taking into account when you buy the car, some cars offer larger batteries and therefore a greater range. So pick carefully.

Exterior of Hyundai Kona car


This is probably the most off-putting part for prospective EV buyers, regardless of whether it's a new or older model. You need to consider when and where you will charge your car, because there is no guarantee a public charging station will be compatible with your selected vehicle.

Now, you can charge your car at home. The standard cable plugs into the mains and will charge your car from depleted to full over the course of 6-12 hours, which is ideal for overnight charging.

You can get a rapid charger installed at home, but this will have to come out of your pocket. However, this will charge your car (dependent on battery size) to 80% charge in around 30-60 minutes.

If you plan on using a public charger, there is a website called Zapmap that lists every charging station around the country and provides their location.

EV charging


This is an issue that affects both new and used electric car buyers, but there is definitely an emphasis placed on used cars.

Like all cars, an electric vehicle will suffer from wear and tear eventually. Not such an issue for suspension components etc. But if the battery itself starts to slowly die, then that could leave you with a bill for a replacement that will be into its thousands (we're not exaggerating either).

Typically with most EVs you lease the battery in the car and get a separate warranty for it. It may be worth checking any used car still has a valid warranty on it as most are covered for five to eight-years.

Fear not, if the battery is out of warranty, then cars such as the Nissan Leaf allow you to lease the battery in the car for around £70pcm, which covers any possible eventuality.

Vauxhall Crossland X Rear Seats and Boot


This is a bit of a mixed bag at the moment, because fully electric vehicles haven't been around for that long on the grand scheme of things.

Initially, the values of electric vehicles fell quite harshly because of the country's under-developed infrastructure and the worry of unknown battery technology.

There has also been the small issue of warranty as mentioned above, with the replacement battery in a Nissan Leaf costing over £5000, a lot of cars on the second-hand market struggled as no-one wanted to face that bill in the future - understandably.

However, residuals are starting to stabilize in the second-hand market because of the better guarantees being offered on batteries and the increasing number of charging stations popping up throughout Britain.

The YouGov report found that only 1% of households actually own a fully electric car. Smaller market, it may be. But there's more room for growth.

Peugeot Interior


Although there is a smaller number of moving parts in an EV compared to an ICE car, there is still a level of maintenance required to get the maximum life expectancy out of the battery, especially an older one that has a few miles behind it.

There are rapid chargers in the country that will fast-charge your battery up to 80% within an hour. However, if you don't regularly let the battery fully charge and deplete, then this will result in 'memory effect', where the battery learns to operate within those parameters, affecting its life.

It's important that you plan ahead when it comes to leaving the car for extended periods of time. Completely depleting the battery and leaving it will result in a dead battery or poor performance.

Smartphone charging in car
The considerations that need taking into account when buying a used electric car are actually quite similar to buying a used petrol or diesel powered car.

Yes, you have to bear charging points in mind, but if you take the time to find out where the best places are to charge your car near you, then it's not as big an issue as you'd think.

Warranty on the battery is always going to be issue. But if you buy wisely - or lease the battery from the manufacturer - then there is no reason to lose any sleep at night. Just like an ICE powered car, find one that been well-looked after and it shouldn't give you any issues. Happy hunting!