micmel2 wrote:Joe, congratulations on your new purchase! She's a beauty.
Question for you...I am looking at acquiring an used MiEV from a distant dealer. What advice can you give me re what to look for? I'm guessing that asking the dealer the condition and/or range of the MiEV is probably beyond the scope of the dealer, so how can you be sure what you are getting is indeed a good deal? I'm particularly concern about the condition of the battery since--as far as I know--we do not have a replacement battery quote from Mitsubishi unlike in the Nissan Leaf's battery replacement program. Would you take a chance from purchasing a low-mileage MiEV from a hot place like in Texas? Florida? Any advice will be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Dave, thank you for your comment and I'm taking this opportunity to start up this new thread specifically about purchasing a used i-MiEV in the US. We already have the Second Hand (Used) i-Miev Buying Guide thread for UK/Europe
Yes, there are presently a number of used i-MiEVs available from dealers, both in California and nationwide, and the number will only increase in the next couple of years as cars come off lease. The cars can be found using sites such as autotrader.com, cars.com, or carfax.com.
My experience with dealers I've talked with over the phone has been that they're merely reading off their sales blurb and are totally unfamiliar with the car, and the person I'm talking with may not even be located close to the car they're talking to me about. Even salespeople at the Mitsu dealership where the car is located can be clueless: for example, I've had a number of salespeople tell me a car has CHAdeMO because they have personally seen the second door on the left side of the car.
OK, so what to look for in a used i-MiEV?
I'm afraid I'm very old-school and never even seen a Carfax vehicle history report, so others can address this.
From my own hands-on perspective, this is a very simple and mechanically straightforward car, that is still too new to have anything wear out on it other than tires. If she drives straight and doesn't have strange front tire wear, the wheel alignment is probably ok. About all you can look for mechanically is physical damage to the body, underbody, suspension, drivetrain, and wheels. All the used i-MiEV's I've seen online and in person have looked good. Since I'm a Californian clueless about rust, that's a whole different area someone familiar with this can comment on.
Electrically, everything should work as anything that had gone wrong still was probably covered under warranty at this point in time. I would ask for any repair records (Carfax?) to see what, if anything, had been done to the car. Certainly, find out if the few recalls had been performed; but, perhaps, that doesn't matter as you can always take the car in to have the recall done.
The elephant in the room is the battery pack and its capacity. All other things being equal, a lower-mileage vehicle will have a pack with more remaining capacity than a higher-mileage one, by virtue of having simply been exposed to fewer cycles. There are many variables that may affect the battery's life which we discuss on this forum, and we continue having discussions about even the definition and measuring of capacity. Can we tell just by looking at the car or driving it? Not really in the brief timeframe we have to evaluate a used car, although a fully-charged RR<50 could be considered suspicious but we also need to recognize that the car had probably been subjected to repeated test drives with people flooring it - so who knows? Certainly, Canion can show if the cells are balanced, but what if one of the cells is near-dead? That will be considered a battery failure and at this point in time would make it eligible for a warranty repair/replacement by Mitsubishi, which could be considered a Christmas present.
Prior to buying my i-MiEV I approached a couple of my local Mitsubishi dealers and asked if they could perform a battery capacity test of a used car I was considering buying. One said they simply did not have the capability of performing a test like that, and the other said, sure, they'd simply perform their annual inspection (for $280) and a capacity test was part of it. When I asked the service manager what the printout of that test would tell me, he said 'good' or 'bad' and nothing else!
Dave, we have five years before needing to worry about battery replacement. A lot can happen between now and then - for example, there's a thriving market in the relatively low-cost rebuilding of battery packs for older Honda hybrids.
OK, so what are some of the things to look for?
In my case, because of the proliferation of DCQC stations in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, my primary criterion for my next i-MiEV was that the car have CHAdeMO. </rant about PHEVs hogging charging stations>
Hopefully, the car hadn't been stored fully-charged in hot weather, but we simply have no way of knowing. Access to the original owner and trying to understand how the car was used and stored and what charging regimen was used would provide helpful clues. Probably impossible if dealing with a dealer.
Using my case as an example, the original owner of my car wanted to get out from under the continued hemorrhaging of his deeply-underwater car loan and was only offered $7K by his local dealer. He had absolutely no nibbles on any ads he placed in Central California. Out of desperation he placed an ad on Craig's List in both the San Francisco and Los Angeles area and my impression is that I was the only nibble. It turns out this was a very fastidious car-oriented person and the car is in truly excellent condition and had been well cared-for.
Considering the $7500 Federal tax credit and $2500 cash California rebate for a new i-MiEV, the price differential makes a brand new i-MiEV incredibly attractive, if for no other reason than battery capacity and battery life warranty. Only time will tell if my roughly $5K savings (after tax and licensing) was a smart or dumb move - after all, all I wanted was CHAdeMO (which the new cars all have) and I could care less about all the other SE Premium features and new cars also have alloy wheels. Perhaps I was attracted by the fact that this car looks identical to my first one? - for fun, we haven't told any of our friends that we now have two i-MiEVs. Perhaps buying a used car now gives me license to hack? Certainly this was an emotional decision and not a cold calculated one.
Oh, and don't forget to ask about the Remote and Mitsu L1 EVSE. Some dealers don't even know the car is supposed to have them, and I had a Mitsu dealer question if the Remote had even been available on the ES!
Enough of my jabbering - everyone's comments on this topic are welcomed.
Edit: since this was written, the CaniOn app (as well as a number of newer i-MiEV apps) has been upgraded and does measure battery capacity in ampere-hours. A new battery has a capacity slightly over 45Ah, and a 2012 i-MiEV with 50,000 miles may be down to 35Ah. Post-2012 i-MiEVs have the improved LEV50N batteries which should show less capacity loss. See the battery discussion threads.