Tesla Model S 70D – The Used Experience

As I discussed in a previous article, I recently ordered a used Tesla Model S, sight-largely-unseen, from Tesla’s used site.

The lack of cohesive communication that I experienced was astonishing to me. If I had done more research on the process, though, I wouldn’t have been so surprised. It’s a fairly well documented disaster of one hand not knowing what the other is doing.

The process has many shortcomings – communication, reconditioning, etc. but they have all been documented by Rich Rebuilds on his Youtube channel so I won’t rehash them all here.

What I will do is talk about my particular pickup experience.

I got an email from my Delivery Advisor that said the car was en route from Massachusetts to New Jersey and would be ready to schedule pickup in the next few days.

email from Tesla representative
“Next couple of days” boggled me a bit – it’s a 3:30 drive from Manheim New England to Paramus, NJ

I then received a call the next morning (Wednesday) looking to set up a delivery date. I said I could take delivery any time the next day, and they suggested 12:30pm. I agreed, made the necessary arrangements to make the 4.5 hour drive down to NJ and was excited that it was actually happening.

Picking up my Model S

A quick trip to Hertz that evening was in order, since I wouldn’t be trading in my existing car when I picked up my Model S. I got the cheapest car available and drove home. The next morning I set out early to beat traffic through the greater Boston region as it was raining and traffic on I93 and 495 is bad enough without rain.

I drove my rented Hyundai Accent 253mi to Hertz of Paramus without so much as cruise control, feeling like this particular car had been ridden hard and put away wet every day of its life; which is probably true. It just didn’t feel safe… and I’ve owned a Hyundai Accent once upon a time, it was this car specifically that made me nervous.

Welcome to the industrial chic experience that is a Tesla dealership

Arriving at Hertz in the pouring rain, I paid and hailed an Uber for the 3-ish mile ride to the Tesla dealership. When I arrived I genuinely felt like I was walking into an Apple store. I was greeted by a friendly staff member and I explained who I was and that I was some 3 hours early, but if they could fit me in I would appreciate it.

At the Tesla Dealership

What would follow was yet further evidence that Tesla as a company doesn’t communicate very well, either internally, nor with their customers.

I met with a friendly employee within about 10 minutes of my arrival, which was very encouraging. I was asked a few preliminary questions and off she went to get some paperwork in order. When she returned a few minutes later she inquired about the bank check… which I was never requested to bring. Inside the Tesla account portal my car showed as “Your Model S is fully paid”, so I assumed they had worked with my credit union to get all the necessary paperwork lined up. I assumed incorrectly.

A call to my credit union got things squared away, though, with their assurance that a check would be over-nighted to Tesla that evening. We proceeded with the paperwork, which was quite brief, as most of the legwork such as proof of insurance, etc. had been completed online prior to my arrival.

It was pouring, so the walk around to discuss the features of my car were actually done inside, using the display Model S that was on the floor of the show room. I knew pretty much everything I was being shown, but was happy to review it all to be certain.

Then we moved outside to my actual car and we covered the basics such as pairing my phone, controlling the charge port, and so on. One thing that she noticed was that the car was short one J1772 adapter, which I definitely need, as my work only has J1772 plugs at this time. I appreciated her attention to detail on that. We also both noticed that the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) was complaining about the right front tire. She inquired with someone from service about that and they assured us that the tire had just been serviced and after driving it for a few miles the alert would go away. Spoilers: it didn’t.

I noticed that the car was at around half a charge as well, which was disappointing; so when we were done with the orientation I said my goodbyes to the helpful staff member and made my way around the parking lot to where the SuperChargers are. They were all full. I wasn’t really in the mood to go back inside and try to get someone to move one of the other Teslas, so I just plotted a course to another SuperCharger and went on my way.

Driving Home

The drive home was such a radically different experience to the drive down. On the way down my car didn’t even have cruise control, but on the way home my car mostly drove itself for me, with some intervention, due to the fact that it was raining so hard that the camera system had a hard time tracking the lane lines sometimes. Other than that, between adaptive cruise control and Auto-pilot, it was truly the least stressful drive through afternoon CT and Mass traffic that I’ve ever had.

Getting some lunch and some electrons in Darien, CT

SuperCharging my Model S

By the time I arrived in Darien, CT it was past lunch time and I needed a break more than the Model S did, but I got a chance to SuperCharge for the first time. Also, the rain let up enough that I was able to take my first picture of the car while it drank in the electrons I needed to get home. I grabbed some food from the rest area and before I had even finished eating I had more than enough charge to get me on my way. The ability to SuperCharge for free was one of my deciding factors between getting a used Model S and a new Model 3, so it’s a nice perk, for sure.

I would make one more stop at the Auburn Mall just south of Worcester, MA for a bathroom / beverage break while I grabbed some more charge at the SuperChargers located just outside the mall. From there it was home and out to dinner with Stacy as we celebrated the wrap-up of this adventure.

Since That Day

I’ve really been enjoying the car. I live about 10 minutes south of a SuperCharger, so I stop for a few minutes here and there, but I also have access to 8.4kWh charging at the office, so between those I have my charging needs met. There are some warts about this particular car which I have a service appointment scheduled for mid-February, namely:

  • The TPMS system error
  • The front windows are slow going up and down as well as making clicking sounds
    • I wasn’t able to test this the day I picked it up, since it was outside and pouring rain
  • The front passenger door makes a loud, metallic “thunk” sound when it’s closed

Otherwise I’ve been very happy with it, it’s a joy to drive, handles snow wonderfully, since it’s AWD, it’s quiet, rides nicely, and has power to spare.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this car as I put it through many miles of daily driving and longer distance trips. For now, though, even though it was a bit of a fiasco, it has been worth it thus far.

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