Read This Before Buying a Used Tesla Model S

White 2020 Tesla Model S in front of mountains

Looking for the latest and greatest in Tesla technology, but don’t want to spend SpaceX levels of cash? Buying a used Model S might be the ticket! We’re going to tell you all the in’s and out’s of Elon’s new premium EV, and what it’s really going to cost you to drive one. 

So, if you’re even thinking about snapping up a Model S, or you just want to know what Elon’s been up to, keep reading. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Tesla Model S!

What’s the Deal With the Model S?

Red Tesla Model S on track

When Elon Musk first let the Model S out into the world back in 2012, it completely flipped people’s perceptions of what an electric car was capable of. Nowadays, you see more brands following in Tesla’s footsteps, with performance electric sports cars like the Jaguar I-PACE and the Audi e-tron coming on the market in recent years.

And while the Model S has been the frontrunner in performance EVs for years, has it really withstood the test of time? Or are you better off keeping your petrol-sipping pony car in the stable? Let’s see what the Model S has to offer.

Spacecraft Styling

Red 2020 Tesla Model S on road
Business Insider

Tesla bodies always have that signature futuristic, spaceship-esque styling that makes them look like their ready to blast off and make for the Milky Way, and the Model S is no exception. The fluid lines that make up the body of the Model S are sleek and sophisticated, and have stayed largely the same since the Model S’s release.

Behind it’s got a hatchback that definitely gives the Model S a first impression more like a sedan. Moving to the front, for some light in the dark, it’s got a set of LED headlights and fog lights. Standard wheels on the Model S are 19 inches, but if you’re looking for better handling when you’re hitting high speeds, you can bump that up all the way to 21.

All in all, the styling on the latest model of Elon’s EV really speaks to the top-notch technology inside, and that spacecraft style says “this is the car of the future”. But does the inside of the Model S have the same futuristic fashion as the outside? Let’s take a look and see what this cabin’s packing.

Inside the Cockpit

Tesla Model S interior
Motor Authority

Yeah, we’ve all heard about Tesla’s typically shoddy interior quality, and the Model S… kind of keeps that reputation alive. The cockpit definitely makes you feel like you’re driving a spaceship at first glance, with that massive touchscreen on the dashboard that’s probably bigger than your living room’s TV screen. But when you look a little closer, you start to notice the flaws. 

Some of the panels in the interior are out of line, and when you’re charging north of $80,000 for one of these cars, you’ve got to get those things right. The overall interior quality of the Model S is just not up to speed with rivals like a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, even though Tesla’s boasted major improvements in the Model S cockpit.

But that being said, the cabin on this car is still pretty swanky. You got heated seats that memorize your profile, a heated steering wheel, and a backup camera that’s in crystal-clear HD. So, while the Model S interior doesn’t exactly rival the artisan leather luxury of a Rolls-Royce, it’s definitely not a bad place to sit. And when you’re sitting in a Model S, it’s going to be dead quiet for the whole ride. Sure, that’s because it’s electric, but this isn’t any ordinary electric engine system. 

Elon’s Electric Engines

Tesla Model S Motors and Batteries

The Model S puts to rest that old idea that electric cars can’t be powerful. The 2020 Performance trims got an absolutely ludicrous 778 horsies under the hood. That’s more powerful than a gas-guzzling Lamborghini Aventador Sport. And it’s all electric, baby. The Model S is also about as quick as a cheetah, going 0 to 60 in just 2.3 seconds. 

No, seriously, in their last update for the Model S, Elon and the boys added in a “Cheetah Mode” where this whip actually changes its stance, lowering its front end like a cheetah stalking its prey, making it more aerodynamic and even quicker off the starting line. So, if you throw this thing in Cheetah Mode and drop some lead on the pedal, you can get the Model S ripping top speeds of around 163 miles per hour! Wild cheetahs can only run about half that fast…

So why’s the Model S so damn powerful and fast? It’s probably got something to do with the fact that it’s got two engines! Yeah, one just wasn’t enough, I guess. They slapped a 615-kilowatt 3-phase AC induction motor in the front and the back. So, obviously, you’re getting all-wheel drive on your Model S whether you like it or not. Well, as long as you buy one built after 2014…

The 2020 Model S Performance has a range of 348 miles on a single charge, but they do offer a Long Range Plus trim that bumps that up to 404 miles. However, you’re going to have to trade some engine power for that range. But even on the Performance trim, the range blows competitors out of the water. The I-PACE, for example, only gets a measly 234 miles on a charge. 

And Tesla’s making it even easier to keep your car’s battery all the way charged by putting in new Supercharger stations all over the country! Now, if only Apple would do that for my iPhone! Seriously, this thing’s always dying on me at the worst times… But while we’re talking about technology, let’s take a look at all the crazy sci-fi technology you get with a Model S.

S is for Sentient

Tesla Model S engaging self-driving capabilities
The New York Times

With a guy like Elon Musk behind the wheel of the automotive-making machine that is Tesla, it’s not surprising that their cars have capabilities that will make you think you’re in a sci-fi movie. I mean, the guy’s sending ships to space, he’s trying to run the world on solar power, and apparently now he’s working on using 3D printers to make coronavirus vaccines. I seriously think he might be an alien… 

The technology in the Model S is just as outta-this-world. In 2014, Tesla introduced Autopilot Mode to the Model S, which basically enables you to sit back and knock out a thousand levels of Subway Surfers, or whatever your app of choice is, while your car does all the driving for you. Now, if you’re like me, you probably prefer grippin’ grain and switchin’ lanes by yourself, but it’s nice to know that you can drop the wheel on the highway and flip through Instagram if you want. 

Well, that’s not entirely true with Autopilot Mode, you still have to pay some attention to the road just in case some BMW decides to cut you off in traffic, or basically anytime you drive on the New Jersey Turnpike. Sorry, New Jersey, but you guys drive crazy. However, in 2018, the Model S got full self-driving capabilities, so you can really just sit back and take a nap while your car drives itself. 

But that’s not the only trippy technology that the Model S’s got. They also threw in Sentry Mode, which pretty much turns your car into Rick Sanchez’s spaceship from Rick and Morty. No, your Model S isn’t going to take out an entire army, but it will sense and record any suspicious activity that goes on around your car while you’re waiting in line at Jamba Juice, or wherever you go to get your weird kale smoothies.  

The Model S also got Enhanced Summon in 2016, which gives you the power to call your car from its parking spot. Yeah, that means your car will pull up to you in the parking lot with no one in the driver’s seat. Kind of creepy if you ask me, but also definitely pretty cool. 

But even though the Model S has got some pretty cool techy perks, it’s not all sci-fi-inspired luxury. There’s been quite a bit of controversy surrounding this ride, and a lot of it’s got to do with those powerful electric engines we talked about.

Musk’s Mishaps

Red Tesla Model S charging in a garage

Now, I know we just talked about how ridiculously powerful the Model S’s electric engine is, but some of the controversies around them will make you reconsider selling off all those gas-drinking, premium-pushing rides in your garage to buy a Model S. 

Apparently, those dual motors don’t do so hot in cold weather. There have been a ton of reports of battery life on the Model S draining faster than your kitchen sink when the thermometer dips below a certain level. So, if you plan on driving one of Elon’s EVs through a snowstorm, you might just end up riding home in a tow truck. And Model S owners have also complained about their battery inexplicably draining while their car is cooped up in the stable. So, unless someone is sneaking behind the wheel and joyriding their Tesla drivetrain while they’re sleeping, that electric motor’s got a problem.  

There have also been a bunch of other complaints about the Model S, from doors that weren’t put on straight and get super squeaky, to door handles that straight up don’t open, to Tesla lowballing how much energy the Model S actually uses. 

Overall, the Model S is definitely one of the coolest electric rides out there, but it’s also got some problems. But who doesn’t? Just be on the lookout before you buy one. Oh yeah, one other thing you should know before you spend your hard-earned cash on a Model S: the insurance on these things is through the roof. So, unless your pockets are deep enough to pay that painful premium twice a year, you might want to steer away from the Tesla dealership.

Insurance Insanity

Red Tesla Model S rear bumper
Insurance Journal

With all that top-of-the-line technology that Tesla throws into its cars, it usually takes a big chunk of change to do any kind of repair on one. And what happens when repair costs are high? That’s right, insurance costs jump higher than Michael Jordan. The average insurance policy for a 2019 Model S is around $2,900 a year, which is… a lot of cash. 

Tesla actually has its own insurance company for covering its vehicles. Seriously, is there a single business that Elon Musk isn’t in? And while Tesla Insurance guarantees that they’ll give you rates up to 30% cheaper than any other provider, the numbers have proven otherwise. In fact, quite a few Tesla owners have said that their quotes from Tesla Insurance are actually higher than their current coverage plans. 

Tesla’s gone on record saying that this was just because of problems in their quoting algorithm, which have since been fixed. And that because they have inside knowledge of their cars, they can offer the best possible insurance policies. But before you sell your soul to Elon and Tesla Insurance, I’d recommend looking at your other options before you sign that dotted line.

Interested in learning more about Tesla? Check out our video 7 Surprising Tesla Facts You Didn’t Know!

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