The Worst Part of Buying a Used EV is The Battery — Here’s How To NOT Get Taken: Sponsored

A new app sheds light on used EVs' battery life.

Battery life and range are two of the most crucial factors when buying an EV — and something you’ll definitely want to consider if you’re buying one on the used market. (Image: TFLcar)

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Let’s face it, electric vehicles are coming down in price, but new ones are still pricey. And with the tax rebates slowly expiring for several manufacturers who’ve been in the game for years, EVs’ prices don’t appear to be getting any lower. Enter the used EV market. Those Nissan Leafs, Tesla Model 3s, Chevy Bolts and other EVs that have been around for five years or so are showing up on the pre-owned market. Accordingly, they offer a much lower cost entry into EV ownership.

There’s one big problem: the battery. The long-term value of that used EV is going to depend on how much life is left in its battery. Why? Because over time and hundreds of recharge/discharge cycles, an EV’s battery loses capacity, which translates into lost range. How much range? It depends on a host of factors such as how it’s driven, where it’s driven (Scorching Phoenix heat or freezing Minneapolis cold?), and how often the battery was driven to zero charge. One five-year-old Telsa could be worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars than the same five-year-old Tesla more simply based on the health of its battery. So how do you figure out what you’re buying?

Recurrent to the Rescue

The Recurrent EV report is there to help. When you go to look at, say, a used Leaf, ask the owner to have the vehicle charged up to at least 60% and ideally 80% battery charge. You enter the vehicle’s VIN and other info., then take a smartphone snap of the dash board screen showing the Leaf’s range, percentage charge, and odometer info. and submit it to Recurrent. In several minutes it comes back with a one-off report on that vehicle. The report will provide a battery rating, approximate current range of the battery at 15-, 75-, and 99-degrees F; and how it ranks compared to other Leafs from the same model year and located in your area. (see image below).

Recurrent EV report 2016 Nissan Leaf
The Recurrent one-off report for Nathan’s 2016 Nissan Leaf S.

Crowd-Sourcing a Better Buy

So how does the Recurrent EV report work? It makes a big ask of EV owners to connect their vehicle to their app and allow Recurrent to capture miles driven and the number of times EV owners charge their vehicles. (Note: While most new EV’s feature an additional smartphone app, not all older models do such as the Chevy Spark EV. As such, Recurrent may not work for several first-generation EVs.).

With a critical mass of, say, Nissan Leaf owners in the Denver Metro area connected to Recurrent, the service can crunch the data it receives over time to start noticing trends in those Leafs’ batteries’ long-term degradation and the affects of seasonal temperature swings on range. And then it can share that information with future buyers of used EVs.

Of course, for this service to be reliable, it requires a commitment from current and future EV owners to connect to Recurrent. The more who connect, the better the data reports will be. But for now even a tiny sample size is better than none.

Recurrent EV report
Recurrent’s app makes it easy to track the health of your EV’s battery compared to other EV owners.

“What’s The Recurrent Report?”

The endgame for Recurrent goes like this: In the near future, you’ll ask for a used EV’s Carfax or AutoCheck report to check its registration and accident history and a Recurrent report on the EV’s battery. It’s happening already, with some dealerships offering a link to a vehicle’s Recurrent report on their online EV listings. Even better, EV sellers should see a similar benefit when providing a Recurrent report showing years and years of data on their car to potential buyers in much the same way a car owner who’s able to provide complete documentation on a vehicle’s maintenance history attracts more buyers.

As useful as Recurrent is, it doesn’t replace a trip to a mechanic or service center to have them run a diagnostic on the whole car, including the battery. Better to think of Recurrent as a tool to help you narrow down your options, highlighting potential battery issues or non-issues that will better help you make an offer, request a mechanic take a closer look, or simply walk away.

With millions more electric cars and trucks set to hit the road in the coming decades, we’ll need a new data set to help us determine EVs’ long-term reliability and usefulness. Recurrent is going a long way to helping us figure that out. Go to to learn more about what they do. Or, click on the video below to see what Nathan and André learned from their experience with Recurrent.