Tesla Trade-In Program – Everything You Should Know About It

Last Updated on February 16, 2023

People all over the world are purchasing electric vehicles. Whether to enjoy the cost-saving advantage of owning a car that does not rely on expensive gasoline or because they feel more eco-friendly when plugging in their vehicle, the fact is the market is growing at a rapid rate. There has been a 75% increase in year-over-year purchases in the US alone.

Infographic: Tesla Is Dominating U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales | Statista

The only downside to owning these beautiful vehicles is their price. That is why many customers are turning to the Tesla trade-in program to lower the overall price tag of their purchase. Now the only question remaining is how does this program work and if it is better than other buy-back companies like CarMax or Carvana?

Below, we will go over the details of how does Tesla trade-in work, the pros and cons, and what the entire process looks like.

Tesla Requirement for Trade-Ins?

Tesla does a pretty good job of estimating the value and condition of your vehicle after you have entered in some important information. To start, you will need to create an account on the Tesla website and request a trade-in offer. After that, you will need to provide:

  • VIN
  • Odometer
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Trim
  • Registration number
  • First registration date
  • Sales Tax
  • Any notes on the condition

Other details may have to be included depending on the Tesla agent you work with, but in general, that is all the info they will need to run a check on the car’s history and vehicle maintenance condition.

What is the Trade-In Process?

The Tesla trade-in program starts once you submit the information mentioned above. Then a Tesla staff member will be assigned to your trade-in to evaluate the Tesla trade-in value. You will need to provide your zip code and photos of the vehicle for this person to review. They will then issue you a trade-in offer. If you accept, you must drop off your car at the local Tesla dealer for final review.

Does Tesla accept trade-ins really depends on the valuation they will issue. In most cases, you can get some money for your car applied to the purchase of your new or used Tesla vehicle.

Trade-In process by CyberFuture:

Which Vehicles are Eligible for Trade-In?

The news is that Tesla accepts a wide range of combustion and electric vehicles for trade-in. You can submit passenger cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs for Tesla to review and value based on its condition. That means the old Honda sitting in your driveway without a windshield may still be worth some money off of your next purchase.

Tesla does not accept any motorcycles, RVs, or commercial vehicles. So all you influencers out there cruising the US in a refurbished school bus may have to look elsewhere for your trade-in.

And you can of course trade-in Tesla for another Tesla. Here is an example of an owner receiving an offer for a 3-year-old Tesla. The car has only depreciated $4,450 in value:

What Condition Does Tesla Accept for a Trade-In Vehicle?

The overall rule of thumb for the Tesla trade-in program is that the vehicle must be in “drivable condition”. That means you need to be able to turn it on and drive it to the Tesla location for drop off. Unfortunately, does Tesla do trade-ins for lemons, NAM title vehicles, salvage, or flood damaged designated vehicles is a hard no.

You can use a third-party online Tesla valuation app to estimate what Tesla will offer for your vehicle.

How Long Does Tesla’s Trade-In Offer Last?

After you have filled out all the online info on your trade-in, you will need to drop it off at a Tesla dealership. Tesla will provide a final trade-in offer based on the overall condition of your vehicle compared to current market rates. These offers last for about 30 days or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first.

It depends on how busy the dealership is, but you can expect anywhere from 3 business days to a couple of weeks to get your offer. Tesla wants to handle your trade-in quickly because it takes up room in their facility.

Is There a Tesla Trade-In Calculator that will Help to Estimate the Value of the Car?

Yes and no. The official Tesla trade-in program online calculator is available at this link, but that does not always work based on current inventory levels. There are plenty of stories about how much people were able to get for their vehicles based solely on the initial quote you ask for when you create an account. You can see some of their experiences here.

Can You Negotiate with Tesla on Trade-In Value?

Like any other business deal, there is always room for negotiation. It is really going to depend on the type of Tesla employee you are working with and how they feel about your vehicle’s potential.

Some buyers have reported having luck with negotiations by bringing in verified estimations from other car dealers like CarMax or Carvana. This gives you a bit more leverage during negotiations to show you can take your business somewhere else and get a better deal. That helps, but is no guarantee.

What is the Feedback from People who have Traded in their Cars?

There is an awesome Subreddit Teslamotors that has many documented cases of car owners working with the Tesla trade-in program. Again, the value and experience are going to vary based on who you are working with.

Here are some randomly picked comments from another Tesla dedicated subreddit:

Many people like this user talk about being able to up their estimated value after bringing in a CarMax estimate or these Redditors who had a good experience but warned others of the tax implications.

Is it Worth using Tesla’s Trade-In Program?

In general, buyers should have no problem dealing with Tesla. The more significant issue was getting enough money for their trade-in.

Everyone seems focused on maximizing the value so they can lower the overall cost of their new or used Tesla vehicle. Many do report receiving offers for 20-50% less than other places, and that is why you should come to Tesla equipped with a secondary offer for your trade-in.

Advantages of Tesla Trade-in Program

  • A fairly simple process that you can do primarily online except for the actual drop-off. Tesla does a good job of making the entire procedure clear and do not require a ton of evidence about the condition of your vehicle.
  • Many states have begun offering some form of tax incentive because you are purchasing an electronic vehicle. Be sure to save your tax and purchase documents so you can take advantage of any available rebates.
  • Tesla does not calculate any remaining loan payments on your current car into the purchase amount. They give you a full value of the car based on the market condition.
  • For combustion engines (non-electric cars), Tesla offers a simple, no-hassle trade-in value compared to other dealerships.
  • People like the benefits of being able to drop off their trade-ins at the same location from where they are picking up their new vehicle.
  • It is nice to avoid the entire aggressive car salesperson issue you would get at a used car lot.

Disadvantages of Tesla Trade-in Program

  • Your ability to negotiate the overall value of your trade-in is going to depend on the staff worker you get from Tesla.
  • Tesla’s are very high in demand. The company knows they can get a lot for their cars, so your negotiation leverage needs to be high by having a second offer.
  • Tesla prefers a vehicle that is as close to the original manufacturer stock as possible. Any modifications you have made may actually lower the value of the car during the trade-in process.
  • The delivery time on Tesla’s vehicles may be longer than the 30 day offer period. That means you may have to purchase your Tesla before your offer is finally accepted because of shipping issues.

Final Thoughts

The Tesla trade-in program offers many car buyers the opportunity to shave off some of the costs of owning a new or used Tesla electric vehicle. These are high in demand products because so many buyers want to take advantage of cars that do not require gasoline to operate. With costs of gas, maintenance, and negative effects on the environment, this demand is only expected to go up.

If you are lucky enough to get into the Tesla trade-in program, then do it! You should seek out a second trade-in offer from a competitor like CarMax, Vroom, or Carvana to ensure you have some leverage during negotiations, but overall, it should lower the final price tag on your new electric vehicle.

Keep all your receipts and check out the local, state, and federal benefits you could be receiving because you have made an eco-friendly purchase. Good luck!