6 Ideas for Shopping for the Finest Used Electrical Vehicles Below $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 autos – however even these have been laborious to come back by.

On the similar time, People have confronted excessive gasoline costs because of rising inflation and the continuing warfare in Ukraine, main many to contemplate electrical autos.

In 2023, consultants count on provide chain points to degree 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 car costs, nevertheless, might drop 10% to twenty% this 12 months, based on J.P. Morgan Analysis.

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

New to the used electrical car market? We’ve acquired you lined. Beneath, we’ll break down suggestions for getting a used EV, 5 of the perfect used electrical automobiles underneath $20K and the way a lot it prices to drive an EV.

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

7 Ideas for Shopping for a Used Electrical Automobile

How is purchasing for used electrical automobiles completely different from shopping for used gasoline automobiles? Primarily, you’ll have to concentrate on electrical vary and battery life. Listed here are seven tricks to be sure to 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.

Contemplate Value

Should you’re purchasing for a used EV on a finances, you may take fashions just like the Audi e-tron and Tesla Mannequin S off your listing (although now that the BMW i3 has been in the marketplace so lengthy, you will discover older fashions underneath $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. Should you want an excellent start line, scroll right down to our listing of the perfect used electrical automobiles underneath $20,000.

Contemplate Vary

Value is barely 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 car in your value vary that may go so far as you want it to on a single cost.

That method, you received’t have to fret about charging on the go.

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

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

Act Quick

When you’ve discovered a number of fashions you’re fascinated with, plug them in (pun so meant) to The Penny Hoarder automobile comparability spreadsheet to see which possibility is finest for you.

When your most well-liked 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. Should you don’t go for a check drive and make a proposal as quickly as potential, one other purchaser will.

2. Purchase From a Dealership 

Usually, you will discover decrease used automobile costs by shopping for from a non-public vendor, however in relation to shopping for a used EV, it’s possible you’ll need to purchase from an authorized automobile dealership, even when the worth 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 all tax credit, there are many stipulations. Take a look at this IRS useful resource to see for those who (and the used EV you need to purchase) qualify. The massive problem is that it solely applies to used EVs underneath $25,000. In response to Recurrent Auto, that’s simply 12% of used EVs in the marketplace.

Word: 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 only 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 (car 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 can switch to you with the sale. If there isn’t a transferable guarantee, be cautious of shopping for an older mannequin whose battery could also be on its remaining legs.

4. Discover a Automobile That’s Just lately 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 alternative.

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

5. Use Battery Life to Haggle

If there isn’t a remaining guarantee on the battery and it hasn’t lately been changed, you should utilize the battery degradation to your benefit.

Ask the dealership for a full report on the car’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). Examine 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 making an attempt to get the vendor to drop to a lower cost, they could simply move on the sale and watch for the subsequent purchaser to come back in. (Stated purchaser might be simply minutes behind you on this present used market.)

Should you do get the vendor to drop the worth, do not forget that you’ll seemingly be paying to exchange 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, you need to take it on a check drive to a trusted mechanic for a full inspection. The mechanic will inform you of any issues that the vendor could not have disclosed.

This helps you 1) haggle for a lower cost or 2) know when to stroll away from a foul 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 vital to slim your search right down to mechanics with an precise background in electrical automobile upkeep and repairs.

7. Contemplate Alternate options: Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids

Should 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 gasoline costs proceed to skyrocket.

Hybrid autos 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 dwelling, 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 extra vary, there’s nonetheless a gasoline engine to finish your drive. Of the 2, used hybrids are sometimes cheaper (and simpler to seek out) than plug-ins.

So what’s the distinction? Take a look at our hybrid vs. electrical comparability earlier than shopping for. hybrid vs. electrical.

5 Finest Used Electrical Vehicles Below $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 have to work from a shorter listing of used EVs to remain underneath $20K.

Take a look at fashions from the early to mid 2010s for the perfect costs. Costs will range based mostly on mannequin 12 months, battery situation, mileage and different components, however typically, the fashions under are the perfect used electrical automobiles underneath $20,000. (You’ll discover there’s no used Tesla mannequin on this listing!)

1. Nissan Leaf

Indisputably, the Nissan Leaf continues to be the most effective used electrical automobiles out there. This entry-level financial system automobile has all the standard options you’re searching for — from airbags to an influence driver’s seat — in a extremely environment friendly package deal.

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

You may simply discover a used Nissan Leaf within the $10,000 to $15,000 vary. Tremendous outdated fashions may be listed under $6,000.

2. Kia Soul EV

The Kia Soul compact crossover was an on the spot hit due to its funky form and distinctive advertising and marketing (bear 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 will discover 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 financial system automobile that changed the Chevy Aveo within the early 2010s. The electrical variant of it was short-lived and solely offered in a number 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 underneath $15,000 (or perhaps even underneath $10,000).

One vivid spot: The Spark has had a historical past of enjoyable colours through the years. Whereas a lot of the used Chevy Spark EVs will probably be white or black, you may come throughout one thing with extra character, 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. Should 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, by which Volkswagen deliberately cheated to get higher EPA rankings for its diesel autos. Whereas we’d keep away from any used diesel Volkswagen fashions from that period, the Volkswagen e-Golf is definitely an excellent decide.

The e-Golf is a hatchback with loads of cargo house and passenger house; whereas among the fashions on this listing 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 seek 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 autos are usually, however you’ll have to fret extra a few decrease vary and larger battery degradation.

Getty Photographs

New vs. Used Electrical Vehicles

Automakers are betting huge on EVs. Ford is placing $22 billion towards electrification by 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 vans 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 car gross sales, driving up costs and delaying supply (final summer season, it took a median 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 supplier lot, go for a check drive and take the electrical automobile dwelling that very same day.

However shopping for a used EV is just a little completely different from the standard used automobile purchasing expertise. Arm your self with data earlier than heading to the supplier or non-public vendor to be sure to’re getting an excellent deal.

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

Electrical automobiles could have a better 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 price:

Tax Credit

Should you purchased a brand new electrical car, you may seemingly apply for a federal tax credit score as much as $7,500. Beforehand, once 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, nevertheless, consultants estimate only a few used EVs will truly be eligible.


A trademark of electrical automobiles is the shortage of routine upkeep. EVs don’t want common oil adjustments or air filter replacements, so you’ll spend a lot much less annually on repairs.

Remember: Once you do want to exchange the battery of your EV or have any fundamental restore work executed, the price will probably be a lot greater than what mechanics cost for gasoline automobiles.


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

After all, you’ll have to pay for charging infrastructure set up at dwelling, and also you’ll discover a spike in your electrical invoice. Nonetheless, the price of charging an EV is way lower than what you’d spend on gasoline 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 autos 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 gas through the years of possession.

However in at this time’s market, even used automobiles will be expensive. Make a listing of automobiles inside your finances, know what to search for throughout your check drive and be ready to stroll away from a sale if the worth 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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