Buyer Tips

Buying a Salvage Tesla

By Mike Richards Posted: 11/11/2019

What is a salvage Tesla? How can you find a salvage Tesla for sale? Can they be repaired, what about the parts? Let’s explore.

Tesla started developing its first electric car, the Tesla Roadster, in 2004. It was ready for the market in 2008. This was the first all-electric car using lithium-ion battery cells that was legally accepted on the highway. The Tesla Roadster covered 320km per charge.

Between 2008 and 2012, Tesla sold over 2,450 units of the Roadster. Unfortunately, in August 2011, Tesla stopped producing the Roadster for the US market. However, this did not reduce Tesla’s popularity in the US market. In the first quarter of 2019, 75% of electric cars sold in the US were Teslas. Models S, X, and 3 are quite popular, with Tesla Model 3 being a favorite for most people.

By 2018, Tesla had sold 215,162 units in the United States. Managing production, sales, and maintenance of the vehicles has been overwhelming for Tesla, which has traditionally controlled every aspect of their cars, including maintenance and disposal of used Tesla vehicles that were leased or traded-in. Tesla now relies on auto auctions, such as Copart, to manage the sale of used and salvage Tesla vehicles.

Tesla Salvage Auctions

Some drivers opt for used Tesla vehicles because new ones are quite expensive. The Tesla car line costs between $35,000 and $124,000 when bought new. Tesla is one of the popular EVs for new car owners because of the excellent resale value. For example, after three years, Tesla Model 3 retains at least 64.3% of its original value. This is why salvage title Teslas are increasingly becoming more popular with buyers looking to make more considerable savings.

Tesla does not provide parts for totaled cars. This is primarily to safeguard their reputation and stock price should someone fix a damaged Tesla poorly be involved in a potentially fatal accident.

Keep this in mind if you are considering buying a salvage Tesla auction vehicle. If the damage is substantial, you may not get the parts easily, and if you do, it will be a costly affair. Before purchasing a Tesla with a salvage title, it is best to find out what parts damage easily during a crash, and how difficult it will be for you to find the part.

Tips for Buying a Tesla at a Salvage Auction

Before buying a Tesla at a salvage auction, it is crucial to have an idea of which model you’d like to buy. Although the production of Tesla Roadster ceased in the US in 2011, you are likely to find these cars at salvage auctions. Tesla Models S, X and M are also some of the cars you may encounter. What should you be looking for?

The Range You Get From Every Charge

The distance you cover with one charge is crucial when you are buying an electric car. For example, Model S was unveiled in 2012, and it had a range of 265 miles. The latest model has a range of 370 miles. It is, however, important to note that as a car ages the battery life drops. This is also possible if the car’s mileage is high. This is something to consider if looking for an older vehicle such as buying a salvage Tesla Model S. Though looking at other damaged cars, you may find a newer salvage Tesla battery for sale within a damaged chassis.

What is the Condition of the Battery?

The battery pack is one of the most expensive parts of an EV. If you are to buy a new battery, it will significantly increase the price of the car. Look at where any damage to the vehicle is, and whether this is likely to have affected the battery pack or computer.

Can You Easily Access a Service Centre?

Is there a service center near you? Tesla has a vertical approach when it comes to electric vehicles. This means buyers of Tesla cars can only service them at Tesla, as well as buy the parts from Tesla. There are no service centers that you would ordinarily find in various places for other cars. This essentially means that, even if you get a Tesla at a great price from the salvage auction, it will be an inconvenience if you have to travel a long distance to get the necessary parts to repair and service your vehicle.

Can You Afford the Insurance Premium?

The vertical approach used by Tesla in the management of sales, as well as repair and maintenance of their vehicles, has significantly affected the insurance cost. When you buy a used or salvage title Tesla, you are likely to pay a high premium when you insure it. This is because access to parts is limited, and the parts are costly.

This essentially means you might get a salvage title Tesla at a low price, but the running costs may be prohibitive. Find out from your insurer or any other company to find out if you can get coverage for a salvage Tesla. If you get one, how much would you be expected to pay for a Tesla with a rebuilt title?

What Are the Best Teslas to Buy at an Auction?

Tesla vehicles are heavily reliant on technology. The earlier EVs produced by Tesla had issues with a noisy drive train and battery packs that covered a shorter range with one charge. Tesla has concentrated on making improvements in the functions of the cars over making changes in the physical appearance of the vehicle. This, therefore, means that a 2016 Tesla is better than the 2014 model.

Also, note that Tesla doesn’t follow the traditional system used by other car manufacturers. Some of the cars are produced based on the orders received. For example, you may find a 2016 Tesla that is identical to the late 2014 car if the first owner ordered a vehicle with similar features. When buying a Tesla, consider how much you are willing to spend and find a Tesla that offers options that are within that budget.

Many Tesla buyers anticipate improvements on these cars, enough to wait a couple of years before replacing their current one. For example, the autopilot option was included in vehicles produced in late September 2014. If you’d like to have this feature, you are likely to find that the first cars with this feature were available at auctions from September 2017, after the three year lease period elapsed.

If the autopilot isn’t a priority, you should consider the 2013 or 2014 P85+, which offers greater performance at the same price, but without the autopilot feature.

How do You Repair a Salvage Tesla?

Repairing Tesla vehicles is an uphill task, especially if you have no idea how to manage the electrical aspects of a car. Even a person with diverse knowledge in electrical engineering may struggle when it comes to repairing a Tesla.

Tesla handles all the repairs and maintenance of their cars. It has service stations strategically located to ensure Tesla owners conveniently get service. If your vehicle needs to be repaired and you want it done professionally, it is best to take it to a Tesla service center.

Unfortunately, the policy to manage the repairs and provision of parts has caused unnecessary delays for some Tesla owners. The absence of readily available repair manuals, diagnostic tools, and spare parts has made it even more difficult for mechanics with knowledge of electric vehicles to take on repairs of Teslas. Those who have attempted and succeeded in repairing Teslas mostly buy the parts from used and salvage Tesla vehicles.

This guy repaired a salvage Tesla in just 48 hours:

YouTube video

Can You Insure Salvage Tesla Vehicles?

The cost of insuring a Tesla is quite high. The premium charges are even higher than most luxury cars. This is primarily because of the high cost of repairing these vehicles. The average insurance cost for a Tesla is $4,352 per year. The amount you pay is highly dependent on the model and trim.

Considering the risk of insuring a salvage title Tesla, many companies are wary of providing coverage. The companies that have a policy for Tesla vehicles with a rebuilt title don’t offer better premium rates, so it is still a costly affair. You shouldn’t assume that if a company accepts to provide you with coverage, you will pay a lower premium because your Tesla has a salvage title.

Most companies that provide coverage for rebuilt salvage cars don’t offer comprehensive coverage. Instead, they give the bare minimum, which is often liability insurance. Some companies are interested in knowing who rebuilt the vehicle.

Since Tesla handles all repairs and maintenance of their cars, some insurers are willing to take the risk based on the belief that the company did a good job of restoring the vehicle, especially if the damage was not extensive. It is, however, essential to note that Tesla does not encourage rebuilding totaled vehicles.

From August 2019, Tesla started selling insurance policies through a new company, Tesla Insurance Services. California is the first beneficiary of Tesla’s latest venture, which is expected to lower the cost of insurance for owners of Tesla vehicles.

Are Salvage Auctions Good for Cheap Tesla Parts?

Yes, considering the only other place you can get parts is from Tesla, getting parts from a salvage vehicle is a great choice. This is where independent individuals who repair Tesla get their parts. Since the number of Tesla vehicles has been increasing steadily over the years, the availability of used cars at auto auctions has improved.

Tesla owners also tend to trade in their used Tesla for newer models. Whenever Tesla unveils a new model, it gives a lease of at least three years to some of its clients. When the period elapses, the cars are returned in exchange for newer and better models. Some of the salvage cars were involved in accidents, were stolen, or damaged by acts of nature, such as floods. This is how some of these cars earned the salvage title.

A flooded tesla for sale is more likely to have electrical issues but is likely to be in mechanically good condition. Flooded Teslas are also a good source of body panels. A crashed Tesla for sale may be good for getting Tesla salvage parts to repair the electrics of another, but you may get less useful body panels.

Vehicles that are damaged extensively are often sold for parts. When the individual cost of these parts is determined based on the overall purchase price of the salvage car, the price is much lower than what you would pay at a Tesla outlet.

Should You Buy a Crashed Tesla?

Why are you buying a crashed car? Is it because it is affordable? Do you intend to repair and drive it, or are you interested in the parts? Your response to these questions will be your guide when selecting the vehicle to buy.

Tesla has over the years performed exceptionally well in crash tests conducted by NHTSA and Euro NCAP. However, even though these cars, especially Tesla Model 3, have been found to protect the people in the car in case of a crash, the vehicle itself can be damaged extensively during a collision. A Salvage Tesla Model 3, once repaired, should retain this personal safety.

Your decision to buy a crashed Tesla is highly dependent on the level of damage. The recent models of Tesla have a relatively small engine. This gives the car a more significant crumple zone without any harm coming to the engine. This essentially means substantial damage at the hood of the Tesla may only be aesthetic. Don’t assume the damage on the hood of a Tesla is similar to that on a gas-powered vehicle, whose engine occupies a more significant area.

The battery forms the floor of the Tesla, primarily because of its weight. This gives the car greater stability as it reduces the possibility of a rollover during a crash. The downside is if the vehicle hits a curb or goes over it at high speed, the battery will most likely get affected. Carefully examine the level of damage before buying a Tesla. If you’re looking to rebuild the car, you don’t want a completely wrecked tesla for sale, just because it looks cheaper.

Where to Buy a Salvage Tesla

Tesla has received incredible reviews from the moment the first electric vehicle was introduced. The improvements in battery power and other technologies have influenced the decision by many Tesla owners to upgrade their cars as often as possible. Many Tesla owners trade-in their older vehicles for recent models of Tesla vehicles every three years. This trend increases the Tesla market share for new, used, and salvage vehicle buyers.

Vehicles in different conditions will not lack buyers since people have many reasons for buying the cars they select. For example, new Tesla vehicle buyers want to experience the joys of being the first owner of the car, which includes the car’s capability, irrespective of the cost. Some people can only afford to buy a used Tesla, while others want to save a little more by purchasing a salvage car.

Some private Tesla owners who bought their cars, instead of leasing as some people do, choose to sell them directly to the buyers at auto auctions. Insurance companies also sell the salvage vehicles that have considered to be a total loss, or those recovered after a claim had been settled. Some of these cars are in great shape and are available at low prices.

You can start by looking for Tesla vehicles at public auctions near you. If you see several Tesla service and charging stations in your locality, chances are there is a Tesla salvage yard near you. If you find a place near you, you can visit the yard and personally inspect the vehicle before buying it.

Buy Online

If there is no public auction near you, you should consider online salvage auto auctions, which are increasingly becoming popular amongst used car buyers. You will search for Tesla vehicles at your convenience. If you find a car in excellent shape, you should place your bid. If you are buying a salvage, ensure you carefully select a vehicle that will not be costly to repair. Tesla parts can be quite pricey. If you can get parts from a Tesla salvage auction car, you will make a saving when compared to the price of parts at Tesla service centers.

How To Get Started Buying a Salvage Tesla

Take a look at some of our current auctions here:

Tesla Salvage Auctions

Use the menu on the left to create an advanced search by filtering condition, model and location.

Example Tesla Salvage Auctions

[auctions query=”Tesla”]