Tesla certified pre-owned warranty

Tesla sort of does CPO — here’s how it works

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
Author picture
Edited by:
Audi and BMW
A red tesla plugged into a charging station

Traditionally, certified pre-owned (CPO) programs involve the dealership receiving a used car in good condition, inspecting it and seeking approval from the manufacturer to sell it in “like new” condition with a warranty.

But Tesla has never been a traditional car company, and it doesn’t have an official CPO program.

Still, Tesla has what you might call an “unofficial” CPO program where you can buy a high-quality used car that includes an inspection and a warranty. In some ways, it looks exactly like the CPO program you might find at Lexus or Genesis. In other ways, it falls way short.

So let’s look at how Tesla approaches the concept of CPO, what it includes and whether it’s worth paying extra for.

Key insights

Tesla doesn’t have an official CPO program like other automakers, but every used Tesla the automaker resells must pass a 102-point inspection.

Jump to insight

In addition, every used Tesla sold by Tesla includes a one-year/10,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty starting from the date you purchase the car or the date your remaining factory warranty ends.

Jump to insight

Considering Teslas already come with a solid four-year/50,000-mile transferable factory warranty, getting a total of five years/60,000 miles of coverage with a used Tesla (measured from when it was new) is not bad.

Jump to insight

A ConsumerAffairs study found that, on average, a used Model 3 sold by Tesla costs $5,000-plus more than a used one sold in the open market with similar mileage.

Jump to insight

As a result, you might find the best deal by buying a Tesla from a third party that still has plenty of factory warranty coverage left — just be sure to schedule a pre-purchase inspection.

Jump to insight

Tesla’s certified pre-owned program explained

Tesla has never done things quite like other automakers, and its CPO program is no exception.

For context, here’s how CPO programs usually work. In order to qualify as CPO, a used vehicle must be under a certain age and mileage, pass a rigorous inspection at the dealer and come with a longer warranty than a regular used car.

If we use Lexus as an example, a Lexus dealer may get a trade-in of a 2022 IS 300 and think, “Oh, this one’s in pretty good shape.” So it’ll complete the inspection, file some paperwork with Lexus corporate and get the car certified. Then it’ll sell it at a higher price to the customer, who’s happy to get a car that’s in better shape (and has a longer warranty) than a regular used car.

As a result, when you look at dealership lots across the country — whether it’s Jim Ellis Hyundai in Atlanta or Land Rover Chicago — you’ll typically see a mix of new, used and certified pre-owned cars.

But not at Tesla.

“Tesla doesn’t really distinguish between ‘used’ and ‘certified,’” a Tesla service advisor told ConsumerAffairs. “If Tesla gets a used car, we put it through a 102-point inspection and replace or repair anything that’s needed before selling it. So in a sense, every ‘used’ Tesla you see on Tesla.com has already been ‘certified.’”

To further drive home this point, if you browse Tesla’s current inventory online, you’ll see that there isn’t even a toggle to search by certified pre-owned; your only choices are new or used.

You’ll also see that some vehicles are marked “Previously Repaired” while others are marked “No Reported Accidents/Damage.” Per Tesla, the former label means the vehicle “has a reported previous accident and was repaired to Tesla's standards.”

To summarize, Tesla’s used vehicles are a lot like certified pre-owned vehicles from other automakers in the sense that they:

  • Must be below a certain age (2018 or newer in 2024)
  • Must pass a 102-point quality inspection by a trained technician
  • Include a one-year/10,000-mile extended warranty
  • Are generally priced a bit higher than a regular used vehicle (e.g., one sold by Carmax or a private party)

However, used Teslas deviate from traditional CPO programs in the sense that:

  • There doesn’t seem to be a low mileage requirement (we saw used Teslas with nearly 100,000 miles, whereas traditional CPO programs cap at 75,000 or lower).
  • Having an accident on record and/or requiring major repairs doesn’t appear to disqualify them.

Basically, the closest thing you’ll get to a certified pre-owned Tesla is to buy a used one directly from Tesla. You’ll get the best inspection and the longest warranty compared with buying from CarMax, Carvana or even a private party.

But you’ll most likely end up paying extra to buy a used vehicle directly from Tesla, which begs the question: Is it worth it?

To find out, let’s look at the added warranty protection you’ll get.

» LEARN: What does a car warranty cover?

How good is Tesla’s CPO warranty?

All new Teslas come with the following factory warranty:

  • Four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty
  • Eight-year battery and drive unit warranty with the following mileage caps based on model:
    • 100,000 miles for the Model 3 RWD and Model Y RWD
    • 120,000 miles for the Model 3 LR, Model 3 Performance, Model Y LR, Model Y AWD and Model Y Performance
    • 150,000 miles for the Model S, Model X and Cybertruck

When you buy a used Tesla, you’ll inherit the remainder of the factory warranty, but only once you and the previous owner coordinate an ownership transfer through Tesla. Keep that in mind if you plan to buy a used Tesla from an entity other than Tesla itself.

If you buy a used Tesla directly from Tesla, the company will attach a one-year/10,000-mile bumper-to-bumper used vehicle limited warranty to the end of your factory warranty period.

So if you buy a 1-year-old Model 3 with 10,000 miles on it, you’ll have three years/40,000 miles before the factory warranty runs out and then another one year/10,000 miles before the used vehicle warranty runs out. In total, that’s five years/60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage measured from new, not including the separate battery and drive unit warranty.

That’s not bad, but let’s see how it stacks up with Tesla’s luxury and EV rivals.

How does Tesla’s CPO warranty compare?

To recap, “certified” Teslas include a one-year/10,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. This tacks on to the end of the four-year/50,000-mile factory warranty, so you’re getting five years/60,000 miles of coverage measured from new.

By comparison, all new Hyundai, Kia, Genesis and Mitsubishi vehicles come with a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty from the factory. So a pre-owned EV from one of those brands (e.g., the Ioniq 6, EV6) will have the same total warranty protection as a used EV bought directly from Tesla.

A CPO vehicle from Kia and Genesis will have one additional year of bumper-to-bumper coverage, for a total of six years/72,000 miles and six years/75,000 miles of coverage, respectively. You’ll also get six total years of coverage with a CPO Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln or Acura, so if you truly want maximum coverage on your luxury vehicle, you may want to consider one of those brands (although Lincoln does not produce an EV).

That being said, Tesla’s five total years/60,000 total miles of used vehicle coverage is still rock-solid for the industry. It’s similar to what you’d get with a CPO BMW and much better than what you’d get with a CPO Audi or Mercedes, since those CPO warranties only cover a handful of components after the four-year/50,000-mile factory warranty runs out.

*Measured from when you bought the vehicle or the end of your factory bumper-to-bumper warranty; **Measured from when your vehicle was new

» MORE: Best CPO warranties

CPO Tesla benefits

Unfortunately, the included benefits are another area in which Tesla falls short of a more traditional CPO program.

Here’s the good news first: Used Teslas come with an extra year/10,000 miles of Tesla roadside assistance, which covers lockout services, flat tires and towing up to 500 miles to the nearest Tesla service center. If you order a tow and Tesla determines the root cause was an issue not covered under warranty, it’ll stick you with the bill for towing, but that’s the industry standard.

The bad news is that used Teslas don’t come with any other benefits often associated with certified pre-owned vehicles. When you purchase a CPO vehicle from a more traditional car brand like Lexus, Genesis, Jaguar or Chevrolet, you may get a few extra benefits with your CPO vehicle, like:

  • Loaner vehicles while your vehicle is in the shop for warranty repair work
  • Rental car assistance of around $35 to $50 per day to help cover the cost of a rental or transportation while your vehicle is in the shop for warranty work
  • Trip interruption coverage that helps to cover the cost of meals, lodging and transportation if your CPO vehicle breaks down over 100 miles from home 
  • Complimentary maintenance visits like oil changes and tire rotations (though, to be fair, Teslas don’t need oil changes)

Lexus, for example, includes loaners, trip interruption coverage and four complimentary maintenance visits with its CPO vehicles. Genesis will cover up $50 per day up to $500 total to help cover the cost of a rental if a loaner is unavailable.

Tesla includes roadside assistance, but its ability to provide alternative transportation seems to vary by location. In short, Tesla has loaner vehicles, but you’re not guaranteed to get one. Per Tesla, “Warranty repairs are prioritized for loaner vehicles, which are subject to availability.”

“Loaners are given on a case-by-case basis,” our local Tesla service advisor told us. “If we need more than a day and it’s covered under warranty, we’ll do our best to get you in a loaner or a demo car. If it’s a one-day fix, we may call you an Uber. But even then, Tesla is moving away from offering Uber credits for quick fixes.”

This seems consistent with what other Tesla owners have reported on various forums.

“It's hit or miss. Most service centers will not give a loaner unless the repair is a few days or more. They will offer Uber credits.” posted a user on Tesla Motors Club.

“My experience (brand new 2023 Model Y Performance) is no, no loaner or Uber credits,” wrote another on Reddit.

Is a CPO Tesla worth it?

At this point, there are essentially two ways you can look at Tesla’s used vehicle inventory:

  • As regular pre-owned vehicles that come with a longer warranty
  • As CPO vehicles with fewer benefits

In Tesla’s defense, the automaker never used the word “certified,” so in a way, it’s unfair to compare a used Tesla with a CPO Lexus.

But that defense only stands if a used Tesla from Tesla isn’t significantly more expensive than a used Tesla from CarMax or a private party. Because if a used Tesla is priced like a CPO vehicle, a direct comparison starts to make more sense.

So to find out whether it’s buying a “CPO” Tesla versus getting a bargain from a private party, let’s first look at Tesla’s track record for reliability to see if the extra warranty protection is needed. Then, we’ll look at the cost difference between a “certified” used Tesla versus one you can find elsewhere on the market.

How reliable are Teslas?

In its 2024 Vehicle Dependability Study, J.D. Power found that Teslas built in 2021 exhibited, on average, 252 problems per 100 vehicles within the first three years of ownership, which was roughly 33% higher than the study average of 190.

Consumer Reports, which looks at a wider range of model years, ranked Tesla 14th out of 30 with an overall Predicted Reliability score of 48 out of 100.

Finally, RepairPal data suggests that Teslas cost their owners roughly 28% more than the typical vehicle to repair and maintain each year, on average.

While some of these numbers may be skewed by the occasional out-of-warranty battery replacement ($10,000-plus), the high number of reported problems within the first three years of ownership should send a clear message — if you buy a Tesla, you’ll probably want to maximize the warranty protection that comes with it.

But how much is Tesla charging for its official, warranty-protected used cars?

» MORE: Tesla maintenance: cost, plans and service schedule

How much does a certified pre-owned Tesla cost?

We found that out of roughly 600 used Model 3s listed by Tesla, the average asking price was around $33,300. By contrast, out of 4,345 similar used listings on Edmunds, the average asking price was just $27,759. There wasn’t a significant difference in the average mileage of the listings, either.

To find this out, we compared the average cost of a used Model 3 listed on Tesla’s website with the average cost of a used Model 3 on Edmunds, which includes listings from non-Tesla dealerships and private parties.

To ensure the closest comparison possible, we also filtered out vehicles on Edmunds that were above six years/100,000 miles old, as well as any vehicles with major issues.

This implies there’s a pretty wide gulf between the price of a used Tesla from Tesla versus somewhere else on the market, to the tune of $5,541 or 20%. In our experience, that’s significantly higher than the upcharge for a typical CPO model from another automaker, which usually hovers between $1,500 and $3,000.

To recap, if you purchased a used Model 3 from Tesla for an extra $5,000, you’d be getting:

  • An approved inspection (plus necessary repairs) from a Tesla-certified technician
  • A one-year/10,000-mile boost to your remaining factory warranty
  • An extra year/10,000 miles of Tesla roadside assistance

That might be worth it if you want absolute peace of mind, but there are other ways to get at least some of that quality assurance for a little less cash.

  1. Look for pre-owned Teslas that are still well within their four-year/50,000-mile factory bumper-to-bumper period.
  2. Schedule a pre-purchase inspection using a local service that’s familiar with testing electric vehicles, so you can learn about the battery’s condition (along with the rest of the car) before committing to a purchase.

Before we wrap up, let’s touch on one final option for added peace of mind with your Tesla: the official extended warranty.

Quick and easy. Find an auto warranty partner now.

    Do you need an extended warranty for your Tesla?

    If you purchase a vehicle directly from Tesla that’s still under its factory warranty, you’ll be qualified to purchase an official Tesla extended service agreement, Tesla’s official extended warranty.

    The warranty provides an additional two years/25,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage beyond the remainder of your factory warranty (not including your battery and drive unit, which have their own separate factory warranty). You’ll have to pay a $100 deductible for approved repairs, but some owners say it’s well worth it.

    Tesla charges a flat rate by model for its extended warranties. These were the rates as of October 2023:

    • Model S: $3,100
    • Model X: $3,500
    • Model 3: $1,800
    • Model Y: $2,000

    Circling back to the original question, do you really need one?

    Well, the major hidden caveat to Tesla’s extended warranties is that they start on the day your factory warranty expires. This means that it would run concurrently with your one-year/10,000-mile used vehicle limited warranty, so the extended warranty would really only give you one year/15,000 miles of extra coverage.

    Beyond that, your options for buying an extended EV warranty from a third-party company are extremely limited. There are companies out there that will say they cover Teslas, but if you read the fine print, you’ll see that they don’t offer true bumper-to-bumper coverage.

    Given the high cost of warranty protection and buying used from Tesla, you may still be best off finding a great deal in the open market — and scheduling a $200 pre-purchase inspection to ensure you’re getting a healthy battery.

    » FIND WARRANTY COMPANIES: Best Extended Car Warranty Companies

    Authorized PartnerLogoContact
    Call Center Open (800) 270-3193 Get Pricing
    Authorized PartnerLogoContact
    Call Center Open (833) 930-0227 Get Pricing
    Authorized PartnerLogoContact
    Learn More

    Article sources
    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
    1. J.D. Power, “Vehicle Dependability Slumps as Rate of Deterioration Increases, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed May 3, 2024.
    2. Consumer Reports, “Who Makes the Most Reliable New Cars?” Accessed May 3, 2024.
    3. RepairPal, “Tesla Repair & Maintenance Costs.” Accessed May 3, 2024.
    Did you find this article helpful? |
    Share this article