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Listen, we get it: buying a new car isn’t for everyone. In fact, buying used is often the smartest move, even if you can afford to swing a new-car payment. As always, both have their pros and cons.

What if you want to buy the best used electric vehicle, though?

There’s no doubt that there is some anxiety surrounding EVs. The technology is still relatively new, and buyers aren’t totally sure of how that technology is going to age—still, more and more every year, the future for EV technology is looking bright.

When buying the best used EV, there are certain things you have to consider. Let’s talk about the 3 most important steps when asking yourself, “Should I buy a used electric car?”

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First: Change the Way You Think About Traveling

Any of y’all looking to buy an electric vehicle must realize that it’s a lifestyle change. Think of it as going on a diet; it doesn’t have to be better or worse, it’s just different.

This is where we have the dreaded conversation about range anxiety. It’s true, keeping your EV charged presents a certain challenge, especially if you don’t have a home charging setup. Take a long, deep look at your daily driving habits. How long is your drive to and from work? How many errands do you run on a daily basis? Are you big on road trips, or are you more of a homebody? Do you live in a multi-car household, where you can use another car for long drives?

The fact of the matter is this: you may have to slightly change your habits if you want to commit to an EV. Electric vehicle technology is making leaps and bounds every year—for instance, newer Nissan LEAFs being released today can get an estimated 200+ miles on a full charge, whereas the first LEAF model released back in 2010 didn’t even get 100.

It can still seem daunting to have to leave your car on a public charger for 45 minutes at a time every few hundred miles on a road trip, though. You can mitigate that by working it into your daily routine. Level-2 charging at home overnight is the best solution. In a pinch, you can also find a grocery store or shopping center with a DC fast charging setup outside, and plug ‘er in while you make a leisurely shopping trip.

Going on a small-to-medium sized road trip? Plan a little route out using one of the many online resources for finding charging stations. Make a day of it, see the sights. Grab a snack in a town you’ve never been to before. Electric vehicles may not be as quick and businesslike as a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, but they can give you numerous chances to have fun and experience the country in a way that few people ever take the time to.

If you can get yourself out of the Point-A-to-Point-B mindset, electric vehicles can present a unique opportunity to embrace the American ideal of a road trip: see the sights, smell the sounds, take in the local color. You may just be glad you did.

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Second: Do Your Research

Once you’ve got yourself in the right headspace to investigate buying an electric vehicle, it’s time to look into the nitty gritty of buying a used electric car for sale.

As with any used car, you’ll want to put some legwork into making sure you’re buying a quality product. When it comes to used EVs, obviously, the battery in particular warrants the most research and consideration. EV battery degradation over time is unavoidable, but not all batteries will lose their capacity at the same rate.

Red flags to look out for include:

  • The vehicle has a history of being in extreme cold or heat
  • The vehicle’s been in a wreck
  • High usage of level-3 DC Fast Charging

It may seem like a huge hassle to measure battery capacity, but it’s often as easy as checking the instrument cluster or display screen. Almost all modern EVs have self-diagnostic tools that provide easy-to-understand info about the vehicle’s battery health. So, when it comes time to see a used electric car in person, your first step should be to ask to see how much juice the cells have left. Heck, you may not even need to step into the car itself—with connectivity apps like NissanConnect, you can even pull up diagnostic info on your phone.

The status of an EV’s battery is generally considered to be the most important factor when deciding market price, like how overall mileage is used to calculate the value of a gas-powered vehicle. This will be the most important bargaining tool when negotiating price with a dealer or private seller. You may only be getting 70 to 80% of the battery’s original range, but you can offset this by negotiating a much lower buying point. Don’t forget to browse plenty of the best used EVs for the money online.

Also, make sure you look into those killer federal tax credits, which congress just approved for used electric vehicles. Rebates can end up saving you beaucoup bucks on top of the money you save from buying an EV with an imperfect battery.

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Third: Test it Out

So, now that you have a solid idea of market values, and you know just how much range you’re going to want to fit your needs, it’s time to finally take one for a spin.

Something that we think doesn’t get talked about often enough: EVs are crazy fun to drive. This is due in large part to the instantaneous torque that the electric motor delivers to the powertrain. Many car critics over the years have likened EVs to cruising around in a beefed-up go kart. Many EVs also tend to have some seriously amped up connectivity and driver assist features—this includes some of the best value electric cars, like our beloved Nissan LEAF.

If you find that you still just simply can’t let go of the range anxiety, you can consider trying to find a used plug-in hybrid vehicle. These use a smaller battery pack, and usually get somewhere in the ballpark of 30 to 40 miles of all-electric range, but they also have a gas hybrid engine as a backup. It can be a good happy medium, and who knows, after seeing how much money you can save by just driving a PHEV around, it might just be about to finally convert you.


Are You Ready to Buy a Used EV for Sale?

No car is ever going to be a perfect one-size-fits-all model. Still, the writing is officially on the wall: the future of vehicles is electric. If you’re ready to jump into one of the best used electric cars under 20k, allow us to help you fall in love with the Nissan LEAF. It’s won the prestigious Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to Own Award every year since 2018, making it one of the most affordable used electric cars out there.

If you’re in the market for a used Nissan LEAF for sale, look no further than our Birmingham Nissan dealership. Located at 1300 3rd Avenue North, we have a passion for embracing the future of the auto industry, and we’d love to help you do the same. Give us a call at (205) 390-7564, and ask about how you may be eligible for tax rebates on a used EV.