Home Personal Finance 6 Suggestions for Shopping for the Finest Used Electrical Automobiles Beneath $20K

6 Suggestions for Shopping for the Finest Used Electrical Automobiles Beneath $20K

6 Suggestions for Shopping for the Finest Used Electrical Automobiles Beneath $20K


Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand new and used automobile market has been tumultuous, with unprecedented value hikes and main provide shortages reaching a crescendo in 2022. With some new automobile fashions taking months to order, many drivers have turned to used automobiles – however even these have been exhausting to come back by.

On the similar time, Individuals have confronted excessive fuel costs attributable to rising inflation and the continuing conflict in Ukraine, main many to contemplate electrical automobiles.

In 2023, specialists count on provide chain points to stage out, resulting in extra stock on dealership heaps. Even so, new automobile costs will seemingly keep excessive as we face ongoing inflation in 2023. Used automobile costs, nonetheless, might drop 10% to twenty% this 12 months, in line with J.P. Morgan Analysis.

And with a brand new tax credit score going into impact in 2023 for used electrical automobiles, this simply is likely to be the 12 months to spend money on a pre-owned EV.

New to the used electrical automobile market? We’ve obtained you coated. Beneath, we’ll break down ideas for getting a used EV, 5 of one of the best used electrical automobiles below $20K and the way a lot it prices to drive an EV.

Nonetheless driving a gas-powered automobile? It can save you cash on fuel for those who be part of certainly one of these six gasoline rewards applications.

7 Suggestions for Shopping for a Used Electrical Automobile

How is searching for used electrical automobiles completely different from shopping for used fuel automobiles? Primarily, you’ll must deal with electrical vary and battery life. Listed below are seven tricks to be sure you discover a good one:

1. Make a Checklist of Potential Fashions — and Act Quick

The Nissan Leaf was the world’s first mass-produced all-electric automobile, and it continues to be among the many most inexpensive greater than a decade later. However the used EV market now has much more choices, from the luxurious BMW i3 and Tesla Mannequin S to the sensible Ford Focus Electrical and Volkswagen e-Golf.

Think about Value

When you’re searching for a used EV on a finances, you may take fashions just like the Audi e-tron and Tesla Mannequin S off your checklist (although now that the BMW i3 has been in the marketplace so lengthy, you could find older fashions below $15,000). Set a max finances for your self, and analysis used EV costs inside your vary.

A few of the extra inexpensive choices will come from manufacturers like Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, Chevy and Ford. When you want a superb place to begin, scroll all the way down to our checklist of one of the best used electrical automobiles below $20,000.

Think about Vary

Value is simply half of the consideration. Take into consideration how you’ll drive your EV every day. What’s the max vary you’ll want for many every day drives? Discover an electrical automobile in your value vary that may go so far as you want it to on a single cost.

That means, you gained’t have to fret about charging on the go.

When you do plan to cost throughout an outing, reap the benefits of DC (direct present) quick charging, additionally known as Degree 3 charging. A DC quick charging port will let you cost your automobile’s battery a lot quicker (in round half-hour), however you gained’t get a 100% cost (DC quick charging sometimes yields as much as 80% of a cost).

Whereas most EVs could be charged with a DC quick charging plug, this isn’t all the time the case, particularly in older fashions. If taking a look at a few of the earliest model-year EVs, take note of this function.

Act Quick

When you’ve discovered a couple of fashions you’re all in favour of, plug them in (pun so meant) to The Penny Hoarder automobile comparability spreadsheet to see which choice is greatest for you.

When your most popular mannequin turns into out there privately or at a dealership, act quick. Each used and new automobiles are promoting simply as shortly as they’re being listed. When you don’t go for a take a look at drive and make a suggestion as quickly as potential, one other purchaser will.

2. Purchase From a Dealership 

Usually, you could find decrease used automobile costs by shopping for from a non-public vendor, however in the case of shopping for a used EV, it’s possible you’ll need to purchase from a licensed automobile dealership, even when the value is barely greater.

Why? Beginning this 12 months, the Inflation Discount Act’s new tax credit for used EV gross sales goes into impact. Clients who purchase a used electrical automobile from a dealership could also be eligible for 30% of the sale value in tax credit (as much as $4,000).

As with every tax credit, there are many stipulations. Try this IRS useful resource to see for those who (and the used EV you need to purchase) qualify. The massive concern is that it solely applies to used EVs below $25,000. In response to Recurrent Auto, that’s simply 12% of used EVs in the marketplace.

Observe: This tax credit score is nonrefundable.

3. Perceive How the Guarantee Works

When the unique driver bought their electrical automobile, the producer seemingly included an prolonged guarantee on the battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are the one most costly element of an EV. To assuage purchaser fears of replacements, automakers generally supply eight years (or 100,000 miles) of protection for brand spanking new EV batteries. However not all warranties are transferable.

When doing preliminary analysis on a mannequin listed on the market, you could possibly ask the vendor for data on the guarantee, but it surely’s all the time higher to substantiate this your self. Discover the automobile’s VIN (automobile identification quantity), then name the producer’s customer support division to get the small print on the guarantee.

Particularly ask what number of years are left on the guarantee — and if it is going to switch to you with the sale. If there is no such thing as a transferable guarantee, be cautious of shopping for an older mannequin whose battery could also be on its last legs.

4. Discover a Automobile That’s Not too long ago Had Its Battery Changed

Alternatively, particularly for those who’re reaching again to high-mileage EVs from the start of the 2010s, discover an electrical automobile that has simply had its battery changed. Ask the vendor for receipts and paperwork confirming the battery substitute.

If the vendor can’t discover any paperwork however says the battery was changed, you may typically verify the work by checking on a automobile historical past report from Carfax.

5. Use Battery Life to Haggle

If there is no such thing as a remaining guarantee on the battery and it hasn’t lately been changed, you need to use the battery degradation to your benefit.

Ask the dealership for a full report on the automobile’s battery well being (or simply see what the estimated vary for the battery is after a full cost — there’s sometimes a gauge on the dashboard). Evaluate this anticipated vary to the vary that was initially marketed when this mannequin first went in the marketplace. If there’s a stark distinction, you’ve simply discovered a serious bargaining chip.

Keep in mind that now’s a troublesome time to haggle. In case you are attempting to get the vendor to drop to a lower cost, they could simply cross on the sale and anticipate the subsequent purchaser to come back in. (Mentioned purchaser might be simply minutes behind you on this present used market.)

When you do get the vendor to drop the value, keep in mind that you’ll seemingly be paying to interchange the battery within the coming years. In response to Recurrent Auto, new EV batteries can vary from $3,000 to greater than $20,000. Ouch.

6. Take It to a Specialised Mechanic

Earlier than shopping for any used automobile, it’s best to take it on a take a look at drive to a trusted mechanic for a full inspection. The mechanic will inform you of any issues that the vendor might not have disclosed.

This helps you 1) haggle for a lower cost or 2) know when to stroll away from a nasty deal.

When contemplating a used electrical automobile, discover a mechanic who focuses on EVs. Not each mechanic has been skilled to work on an electrical powertrain, so it’s essential to slim your search all the way down to mechanics with an precise background in electrical automobile upkeep and repairs.

7. Think about Alternate options: Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids

When you’re discovering the price of used electrical automobiles to be out of your value vary, you don’t have to surrender on the notion of eco-friendly driving altogether — particularly as fuel costs proceed to skyrocket.

Hybrid automobiles have been mainstream for much longer than EVs and don’t include any vary nervousness. There’s no preliminary funding to put in charging infrastructure at residence, and hybrids are so widespread that discovering one in your finances shouldn’t be an issue.

You too can contemplate a plug-in hybrid. These fashions draw on electrical energy first, however for those who want further vary, there’s nonetheless a fuel engine to finish your drive. Of the 2, used hybrids are sometimes cheaper (and simpler to search out) than plug-ins.

So what’s the distinction? Try our hybrid vs. electrical comparability earlier than shopping for. hybrid vs. electrical.

5 Finest Used Electrical Automobiles Beneath $20,000

As Recurrent Auto factors out, most used EVs in the marketplace nonetheless value greater than $25,000, making them ineligible for the used EV tax credit score. Whether or not it’s to qualify for the tax credit score or simply keep on a stricter finances, you’ll must work from a shorter checklist of used EVs to remain below $20K.

Have a look at fashions from the early to mid 2010s for one of the best costs. Costs will fluctuate primarily based on mannequin 12 months, battery situation, mileage and different components, however normally, the fashions under are one of the best used electrical automobiles below $20,000. (You’ll discover there’s no used Tesla mannequin on this checklist!)

1. Nissan Leaf

No doubt, the Nissan Leaf continues to be probably the greatest used electrical automobiles out there. This entry-level economic system automobile has all the standard options you’re on the lookout for — from airbags to an influence driver’s seat — in a extremely environment friendly bundle.

As a result of the Leaf has been in the marketplace the longest, there are many choices out there, which retains prices decrease. Nevertheless, we notably suggest one with a higher-capacity battery for a extra sensible vary, which suggests the 2016 mannequin 12 months and onward.

You possibly can simply discover a used Nissan Leaf within the $10,000 to $15,000 vary. Tremendous previous fashions is likely to be listed under $6,000.

2. Kia Soul EV

The Kia Soul compact crossover was an prompt hit due to its funky form and distinctive advertising and marketing (keep in mind these dancing hamsters?), so it didn’t take lengthy for Kia to launch an all-electric model. As a result of it’s been round since 2014, you could find Soul EVs listed within the $15,000-$20,000 vary.

For that value, you’ll get extra than simply an environment friendly crossover; the Kia Soul EV has a spacious inside, smartphone connectivity and cutting-edge security tech, particularly on newer fashions (2018 was its final mannequin 12 months within the U.S.).

3. Chevy Spark EV

The Chevy Spark is a no-frills economic system automobile that changed the Chevy Aveo within the early 2010s. The electrical variant of it was short-lived and solely offered in a couple of states, so discovering one in the marketplace may show powerful.

However for those who’re capable of finding one — and don’t thoughts the intense lack of facilities — you may count on to pay below $15,000 (or perhaps even below $10,000).

One vibrant spot: The Spark has had a historical past of enjoyable colours through the years. Whereas many of the used Chevy Spark EVs can be white or black, you may come throughout one thing with extra persona, like an Electrical Blue Metallic.

4. Fiat 500e

Although former Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne famously didn’t need you to purchase his Fiat 500e, the automobile itself is fairly good. The subcompact has fierce Italian styling and boasts as much as 87 miles of vary (greater than 100 for purely metropolis driving).

These fashions had very low manufacturing numbers, so discovering one close to it’s possible you’ll be a problem. When you’re fortunate, it’s possible you’ll discover one for roughly $10,000-15,000.

5. Volkswagen e-Golf

You may recall the Volkswagen emission scandal again in 2015, during which Volkswagen deliberately cheated to get higher EPA scores for its diesel automobiles. Whereas we’d keep away from any used diesel Volkswagen fashions from that period, the Volkswagen e-Golf is definitely a superb choose.

The e-Golf is a hatchback with loads of cargo house and passenger house; whereas a few of the fashions on this checklist can solely comfortably seat two, you may match a household of 5 in an e-Golf. By 2017, it boasted an EPA estimated vary of 125 miles.

The e-Golf was made as lately as 2019, however these newer fashions are above our $20,000 threshold. Go additional again in mannequin years to search out one for round $15,000.

Honorable Mentions

Although these EVs didn’t make the ultimate reduce, they’re nonetheless price contemplating for his or her low costs and respectable vary:

  • Kia Niro EV
  • Chevrolet Bolt
  • Ford Focus Electrical
  • Hyundai Ioniq EV
  • Hyundai Kona Electrical
  • BMW i3
Professional Tip

Take note of mannequin 12 months when doing analysis. The additional again you go, the extra inexpensive automobiles are usually, however you’ll have to fret extra a couple of decrease vary and larger battery degradation.

A woman charges her electric vehicle in the garage of her home.
Getty Photos

New vs. Used Electrical Automobiles

Automakers are betting massive on EVs. Ford is placing $22 billion towards electrification by way of the primary half of this decade, GM is planning for 30 electrical fashions by 2025, Honda and Toyota every plan to launch 30 EVs by 2030 and Volkswagen is aiming for 50% electrical gross sales by the identical 12 months.

Clearly, the market is about to be saturated with electrical automobiles (and electrical vehicles and SUVs — you may even get an electrical Mustang!). And with authorities incentives (like federal tax credit as much as $7,500) for brand spanking new electrical fashions, it makes a whole lot of sense to purchase new.

However not everybody can afford a brand-new Mannequin S from Tesla, and even the compact, all-electric Nissan Leaf is extra inexpensive when purchased used. Plus, the continuing chip scarcity and continued provide chain points are notably affecting new electrical automobile gross sales, driving up costs and delaying supply (final summer season, it took a mean of 4 months to get Volkswagen’s ID.4 mannequin).

Shopping for a used electrical automobile means a lower cost (common resale values are sometimes decrease for EVs since there’s much less demand). It additionally means no wait time; you may head to the vendor lot, go for a take a look at drive and take the electrical automobile residence that very same day.

However shopping for a used EV is a bit of completely different from the standard used automobile purchasing expertise. Arm your self with data earlier than heading to the vendor or personal vendor to be sure you’re getting a superb deal.

How A lot Does It Price to Drive an Electrical Car?

Electrical automobiles might have the next sticker value, however are you able to lower your expenses over time? Right here are some things to remember when deciding if an EV is price the associated fee:

Tax Credit

When you purchased a brand new electrical automobile, you may seemingly apply for a federal tax credit as much as $7,500. Beforehand, whenever you purchased a used EV, you couldn’t apply for a rebate.

The Inflation Discount Act modified that beginning in 2023, establishing as much as $4,000 in tax credit for used electrical automobile purchases. Due to strict IRS necessities, nonetheless, specialists estimate only a few used EVs will truly be eligible.


A trademark of electrical automobiles is the dearth of routine upkeep. EVs don’t want common oil modifications or air filter replacements, so you’ll spend a lot much less every year on maintenance.

Have in mind: Once you do want to interchange the battery of your EV or have any primary restore work carried out, the associated fee can be a lot greater than what mechanics cost for fuel automobiles.


Whereas you should still purchase gasoline for a plug-in hybrid, a real 100% electrical automobile means you gained’t have to fret about rising fuel costs.

After all, you’ll have to pay for charging infrastructure set up at residence, and also you’ll discover a spike in your electrical invoice. Nevertheless, the price of charging an EV is much lower than what you’ll spend on fuel to journey the identical distance.

Insurance coverage

Insuring a used automobile is often extra inexpensive than insuring a brand new automobile, however what about electrical fashions vs. gas-powered automobiles?

In response to ValuePenguin, EV house owners ought to count on to pay 25% extra for automobile insurance coverage. Why? As a result of electrical automobiles are sometimes dearer to purchase and restore.

The Backside Line

Shopping for a used electrical automobile may end up in nice financial savings: They’re cheaper than new electrical automobiles, they’re now eligible for tax credit and also you’ll save some huge cash on gasoline through the years of possession.

However in at this time’s market, even used automobiles could be expensive. Make an inventory of automobiles inside your finances, know what to search for throughout your take a look at drive and be ready to stroll away from a sale if the value isn’t proper.

Contributor Timothy Moore is a author and editor in Cincinnati, Ohio. He focuses on banks, loans and insurance coverage for The Penny Hoarder. His work has been featured on INSIDER, Sound Greenback, Forbes, HomeAdvisor, WDW Journal, Chime and SoFi..



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