Buyers guide to a used EV

EVA Scotland Member Jonathan Porterfield shares his experience on buying a used electric vehicle.

Check over the vehicle

As with any vehicle, get an HPI check to make sure its not an insurance loss or owing finance.

However, some other checks you do with an internal combustion engine (“ICE”) vehicle such as: clutch bite, noise from gearbox, cambelt changes, oil changes, DPF filters, exhaust systems, all these are non-existent on an EV!

Do though, check tyre tread depths, and whether the tyres have worn evenly? If not, it could be a simple matter of getting the tracking adjusted; hitting the curb can knock the alignment out on the wheels front or rear.

Brake pads should hardly be worn if it's been driven correctly, as EV re-gen braking puts less wear on the pads and discs.

Invest in a OBD dongle to plug into the OBD socket. Then with your smart phone download an app that will allow you to look at SOH (State of Health) of the main traction pack. For example, the app ‘Leafspy’ can interrogate a Nissan Leaf. A Renault app is also available to check this, as well as one for the Mitsubishi I-miev and Peugeot i-on and Citroen C-Zero.

With the Nissan Leaf the first capacity bar disappears at around 82% SOH.

This is not the ‘end of the world’ as all EV batteries will degrade over time, but low mileage EVs left in a high SOC (state of charge) will degrade faster than a high miles EV that's used daily or even rapid-charged many times a day.

Ask about the vehicle’s history

Don't forget the age-old question when buying any used car, ‘why is it for sale?’

Are they ‘upgrading’ to another EV, have circumstances changed? If the reason is genuine then proceed.

Buying a leased battery

Watch out for any EVs with a battery lease, again an HPI check will show if Nissan or Renault (and MB with the Smart ED) have any battery lease in place. With Nissan you can buy out of the battery lease and the amount depends on the age of the car. Renault EVs (apart from Zoe ‘i’ ) are all leased battery EVs.


Make sure the charging cables are with the vehicle, the granny cables (3-pin plug) and fast charge cables.

SD cards for sat-navs are very costly to replace as they are ‘car specific’ and not interchangeable with other EVs of the same make and model. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can buy a used SD card from eBay, it will NOT WORK! Your smartphone, in fact, will generally have more up-to-date maps.

Test drive

Finally, ask for a test drive (checking your insurance etc) and if possible check all is well with the EV at a rapid charger. Check all controls, heater, sat nav screens, lights etc.

And finally, if an EV looks “too good to be true”, if really, really, cheap ask yourself ‘why?’

All EVs are UP in value and unless the seller has been living on Mars the last 18 months, no one will undersell an appreciating EV!

If you’re new to EVs, find someone who has an EV to go along with you too.

EVA Scotland has a wealth of well-informed members who’ll be happy to give advice on what it’s like to run an EV, then soon you too will have the ‘EV grin’

by Jonathan Porterfield