Buyer’s Guide: Model Y or Used Model S?

Buyer’s Guide: Model Y or Used Model S?

Deciding to buy a Tesla is not an easy decision to arrive at, and it is likely not a purchase that you will experience instant gratification with. If you purchase a brand new Tesla, you can be looking at a delivery time between 2-14 weeks, conservatively.  This time frame can change depending on the demand.  Because purchasing a Tesla is slightly different than other cars, you want to be certain you get what you want the first time.

When looking at Tesla models, you may come across two options: the Model Y and Model S. Both are quality cars, but you need to be aware of some differences before making your purchase. Model Y was released most recently in 2019, and the Model S was first released in 2012.  Looking at dates alone, as you can imagine, there are many differences between the two.

In this article, you will find a comprehensive comparison between the two models, which may help you decide which Tesla would best fit both your wallet and needs.

Model Y

Let’s spend some time looking at the Tesla Model Y.  First,  a little history about the car and what makes it different than the rest. The Tesla Model Y was released in 2019 as one of the first Tesla SUV models. Before this, the company focused on sedans.  The Model Y is unique because it is easily able to hold up to seven people. (Source: Elektric)

When it comes to the design of the Model Y, the concept was to provide a sporty vehicle that was more spacious inside with a body design that was a bit longer and wider than the Model S.  The Model Y is a vehicle that could easily be driven as either a single person or it would also be appropriate for a family because of the added space.

Model S

Model S was one of the first vehicles released by the Tesla company and has become the picture of Tesla.  Since its release in 2012, it has undergone several upgrades to keep it current. The Model S is viewed as a luxury vehicle when it comes to Tesla ratings.  The aesthetics are sleek, and the ride is remarkable. Even a used Model S is something to rival other Tesla models.

While the Model S is a sedan, it is still sporty and allows up to 5 people to ride comfortably.  Because it is a sedan, you will likely notice less headroom and less legroom if you are riding in the vehicle’s back. Although these things may be a deal-breaker for some, the Model S is a great sporty electric car.

(Source: Business Insider)

Comparing the Model Y and Used Model S

Now that you have a brief history of the Model Y and Model S let’s take a deep dive into what makes each of these vehicles unique and why one may be a better purchase option than the other.


One of the biggest factors of purchasing a new vehicle is the price tag.  If you are looking at Tesla, you likely know the price will be much higher than traditional cars.  There are two main reasons all Tesla models are more expensive.

  1. The supply is very limited, and the demand for Tesla vehicles is high.
  2. The cost of the energy supply is high.

(Source: Investopedia)

These two reasons are direct factors when it comes to the purchase price.  Because of this, many people are looking at used Tesla vehicles to save a few dollars.  Let’s see how the price matches up between the two models.

Before looking at the numbers, it is important to know that Tesla has three levels of vehicles.

  • Standard Range
  • Long Range
  • Performance

Model Y: Model Y does not fit the luxury car label for the company, so while it is still spectacular and has the same features as other models, it is a more affordable vehicle, which makes it appealing to families.  While this is viewed as a more economical option, it could quickly become a pricey choice with all of the potential upgrades. You can expect to spend between $39,000 and $60,000 on a brand new Model Y.

Used Model S:  Perhaps the cost of a brand new Tesla has you looking at used options.  If you purchase a used Model S from the Tesla company, you can expect to spend between $69,000 and $86,000.  These prices are based on the upgrades present in the vehicle and other factors such as mileage and wear and tear.

It is important to note that the standard range Model S has a beginning price of around $69,000. Therefore, you should do your research between new options as well as used Model S options.  There will likely be more upgrades in used models for the same or a similar price.

As you can see, the Model Y is the less expensive option. If you are okay with forfeiting the luxury feel of a sedan, the new Model Y may be the most cost-effective option.  However, if you intend to get a luxury vehicle, the Model S is where you want to look.


The size of a vehicle is also a large factor in the purchase.  Suppose you have a large family or take part in activities that involve transporting a lot of items. In that case, you will likely be looking for vehicles that can accommodate such lifestyles.  Let’s see how the two measure up; no pun intended.

Model Y: The Model Y is known for its spacious interior and comfort over long distances.  The Model 7 is slightly longer and wider than the Model S. It is also appealing because of the increased legroom and headspace.  While this may seem insignificant to some, if you have ever spent time-crunched up in the backseat of a car, you would be all for the added legroom of the Model Y.

Model S:  This is the typical luxury sedan.  You won’t find a lot of extra legroom or headspace, but it is a sporty car, so it looks like space and size; a used Model S may be the way to go. The Model S can comfortably transport five people, but you will not find any added legroom or headspace in the sedan.  As far as storage, there is a full-size trunk that you can use.

(Source: Automobile Dimension)


When looking at Tesla vehicles, you need to be aware of the charge each vehicle can hold. This is similar to looking at MPG when it comes to non-electric vehicles. 

Model Y: It is estimated that the Model Y can travel approximately 326 miles on one full charge.  (Source: Edmonds)

Model S: It is estimated that a used Model S can get approximately 265 miles out of one full charge. (Source: US News)

As you can see, there is a distinct difference between the mileage you can get from one full charge on each.  It is also important to remember that charging time varies as well.  So, once you have used your full battery charge, it could take you hours or days to get a full chargeback.  This depends on the charging station you are using.

Charging the Car

Another thing that needs to be considered when purchasing a Tesla is the ease of charging. There are many options when it comes to charging.

  • Home charging
  • Mobile charging
  • Supercharging
  • Destination charging

These options are available for all models.  The main difference is going to be the length of time needed to charge your vehicle fully. At-home charging typically takes between 6-9 hours, while supercharging can occur in a matter of minutes. 

(Source: Tesla)


Tesla is famous for the upgrades it has available for the entire line of vehicles.  If you purchase a new car, you will customize the upgrades you want in your vehicle, which can be appealing.  If you choose to purchase a used vehicle, you will not have the same flexibility as upgrades. This is especially true if you purchase from an individual and not Tesla directly.

There is a cost of all upgrades, and the company can install most via a software update, which makes it easy to make additions and take things away. The benefit of having a new car with upgrades is that most of them are likely within the hardware, which means they may be more lasting than getting a used car upgraded through a software patch or update.

Because upgrades are so individualized depending on the vehicle model and year, you will want to check with the dealer directly to see if your used vehicle can handle certain options.  If you are purchasing a new car, you will be given a “menu” of options you can choose from.  Remember, all upgrades come with a price tag, even on used Teslas.

How do I buy a Tesla?

Now that you know the main things you should look for when purchasing a Tesla, you may be wondering how you get behind the wheel of one.  When it comes to purchasing a Tesla, you have a few options. 

Go to a Dealership

If you are close to a dealership, you can purchase a Tesla the old-fashioned way.  This will typically include a walk of a showroom and perhaps a test drive before you commit.  There are a little over 170 dealerships in the United States.  So you may not live in the same town with one, but one is likely within reasonable driving distance. (Source: Scrap Hero)

Order Online

Perhaps you aren’t close to a dealership, or maybe you have already looked at a Tesla up close and in person. You may wish to order your Tesla online.  The website is phenomenal and can help walk you through the process step by step.  You should be aware there are order fees associated with online orders, and you will need to look at your orders very carefully before submitting payment.

Buy a Used Tesla

When it comes to buying a used Tesla, you could go to a dealership, look online or purchase from an independent seller.  As with anything, you need to exercise caution when purchasing outside the dealership because you will not likely have the same quality guarantees.

Preparing for a Tesla

It may seem strange, but when you decide to purchase a Tesla, some preparations need to occur before you receive your vehicle and are ready to drive.  First, it will likely be several weeks before you have access to your vehicle if it is new. If you are purchasing a used vehicle, you will likely not have the same length of time to prepare for its arrival.

Charging:  Before you receive your vehicle, you need to have a charging plan in place.  You won’t always be able to travel to a charging station, and the truth is told, you may not feel like traveling to charge your car.  Because of this, you will need to hire an electrician that is well versed in electric car charging stations.  They will need to install an appropriate charging outlet in your home. This may involve other electrical changes as well.

Get the app: Tesla has an app that you will want to download and familiarize yourself with. This app is going to be a useful tool as you begin to use your new car. You should know that the app’s full features will likely not be available until your purchase is finalized and you are the official owner of the car.

Buy a charger: Once you have the correct charging location selected and wired in your home, you will want to make sure you purchase the correct charger for your Tesla. It would be wise to consult with the dealership before making any purchases.  This will help eliminate the purchase of faulty equipment and will prevent any delays in charging your Tesla.

Measure your garage: If you plan to store your Tesla in a garage, you should measure it to make sure the car will fit comfortably in the garage for both charging and protection purposes. If the car doesn’t fit, you may need to make other arrangements for charging.

(Source: That Tesla Channel)

Other Considerations

No matter which option you choose when it comes to a Tesla, whether it be the Model Y or a used Model S, there are several things that you need to factor into your decision that isn’t related to the upgrades or storage options.  These are the day-to-day things that can easily slip your mind if you aren’t used to having an electric car.

Budget for Charging

When you charge your Tesla, you are going to be using a significant amount of electricity. Depending on the distance you drive your car and the number of times you need to charge it each month, your bill can be significantly increased.  To get a full charge, it is likely going to be around $16.00 each time.  While this may not seem significant, it can add up quickly if you are charging your car several times a week. (Source: Motor Biscuit)

Rewiring May be Necessary

When you hire an electrician to install a charging station at your home, you may be surprised that you have to rewire some parts of your home.  A charging station can pull a significant amount of power.  If the wiring is not correct, you will risk starting a fire in your home. Because of this, the electrician may require rewiring to take place.   There is no way around this.

Solar Power

If the added cost of charging your car is something that leaves you nauseous, it may be wise to investigate solar energy.  You can add solar panels that would gather energy that could be directed to your charging station only.  Chances are, you could install minimal solar panels to reap the benefits. (Source: Energy Sage)

They are Low

If you live in an area where there are terrible roads and lots of ruts, you may want to reconsider the feasibility of a Tesla.  By nature, the cars sit extremely low to the ground.  Because of this, you may run the risk of causing damage just from everyday driving. Be sure to check the clearance you will need for safe driving.

Everything is on a Screen

One of the most challenging things to get used to is controlling everything from a screen.  Gone are the days of knobs, levers, and buttons on the dashboard.  In Tesla, all of these things are on the screen. If you are opposed to using a screen for everything, it may be tough to get behind the Tesla.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing a Tesla is no simple decision, and it is an investment that you will likely have for a significant amount of time.  Because of this, you need to weigh the pros and cons between a new model and a used model.  Cost is important, but as you can see, it isn’t the only factor when it comes to deciding.  No matter what your needs are, there is likely a Tesla that is right for you.


The articles here on are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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