BOISE – As more Americans consider the benefits of owning an electric vehicle, some will turn to the used EV market in search of a balance between function and affordability. But purchasing a used EV is unfamiliar territory for most people. What should buyers know before they sign on the dotted line?
AAA’s Used EV Buyer’s Guide is a new resource to help EV shoppers better understand what to look for and expect as they work their way through the process.
“According to a survey that AAA completed last year, of the consumers who were interested in electric vehicles, 25% would purchase used. Just like buying a conventional used car, we want to help people make informed decisions about a used EV,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. “While everyone’s purchase process is a personal journey, our guide is a great starting point.”
In AAA’s new guide, EV shoppers receive a basic introduction to EVs, learn about driving range and charging options, compare EV and gas-powered vehicle costs (including repair and maintenance), and learn about AAA’s additional car buying resources.
As a result of recent high gas prices, AAA’s 2022 Your Driving Costs analysis revealed that EVs now have the second lowest annual ownership costs by vehicle class behind small sedans. Used EVs are also estimated to cost less to own than their gas-powered counterparts. In fact, EV owners could save $8,000 or more over five years by charging at home and avoiding regular trips to a gas station.
“Depreciation isn’t as much of a factor with a used car, and EVs also have fewer internal components, which may result in lower repair costs. But the purchase of any used car carries risk,” Conde said. “Please do your homework – understand the remaining warranty and charging capacity of the traction battery, which powers an EV’s motors and is very expensive to replace. Ask the dealer or seller to have the vehicle fully charged when you arrive, then compare the range with the original certified range of the car to find out how much the battery may have degraded over time.”
Traction batteries in new electric vehicles come with a federally-mandated warranty of 8 years/100,000 miles. Buyers of used EVs can receive a tax rebate of up to $4,000 or 30% of the price of the vehicle when purchasing an EV that is a minimum of two years old, while purchasers of new EVs could receive a maximum rebate of $7,500.
In addition to the Used EV Buyer’s Guide, AAA supports its EV-owning members with the following resources and benefits:
- TripTik Travel Planner (found online and in the AAA Mobile App) provides public charging information along any route
- AAA TourBook® Guides identify hotels that offer public charging for guests
- Cash back rewards for public EV charging with the use of a AAA Travel Advantage or AAA Daily Advantage Visa credit card (visit or call a AAA Service Center to learn more)
- Mobile EV battery charging (pilot program has launched in 15 U.S. cities – with plans to launch in Boise later this year)
- Your Driving Costs Online Calculator helps consumers determine and compare the total costs of vehicle ownership before purchase. Simply select “Idaho” for state-specific data, then input your annual mileage, the driving ratio that represents your typical driving habits, and the vehicle year, make, model and trim package for a detailed report that can be compared to other vehicles that you may be interested in.
- AAA Car Guide provides reviews and ratings of select vehicles with the latest automotive technology, many of which are EVs. Vehicles are tested and reviewed on an annual basis.
- Complimentary EV charging for AAA members at the Boise Service Center.
“Some households start out by using an EV on shorter-duration trips and a gas-powered or hybrid model for longer road trips,” Conde said. “But as people get more familiar with EVs, concerns about ‘range anxiety’ tend to subside, and they find many more uses for their cars over time.”
Car Buying Tips
- Set a budget and stick to it. Consider the total cost of ownership, including insurance, repairs, and maintenance requirements, not just the sticker price.
- Determine how the vehicle will be used. Think about distances, cargo space, number of passengers, etc. Will the vehicle you’re considering do the job, now and in the future?
- Separate needs from wants to help keep costs down.
- Contact your insurance agent to find out how much it will cost to change vehicles.
- Ask friends or read reviews from trusted organizations about vehicle performance.
- Inspect the vehicle closely. Look for uneven gaps between body panels, which may indicate the vehicle was damaged at some point. Look for bubbles or pitting on the paint. Check legroom and visibility, and make sure all features and accessories work properly.
- Take the time to ask questions. Don’t buy until you’re completely comfortable doing so.
“For AAA, it always comes down to safety and consumer advocacy,” Conde said. “Regardless of their vehicle preference, we’ll be there to lend our members a helping hand.”