Buying a Used i-MiEV

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JoeS

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micmel2 said:
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

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.
 
I have an idea for a simple battery test and invite any comments from the people with more wisdom and experience than I have to comment on my thoughts. I do not have any device to indicate my cell voltages. I have no reason to suspect there is anything problem with my battery. I drive my I-Miev between 10 and 35 miles every day and use the heater, air conditioner, and defrosters as needed. My car is garaged in an attached garage that is always above freezing. Each night, I level 2 charge to full using an Aerovironment EVSE-RS home level 2 charging dock. The power relay in this EVSE model clunks when it engages and disengages. Since the unit is attached to the wall between the garage and living room, I can always hear when the charger turns on/off.

This weekend was a little different.
1. I parked the car Friday night after 15 mile day.
2. I fully charged the car Friday evening.
3. I unplugged the car Saturday morning.
4. I never used the car all weekend.

This morning (Monday), I was thinking that if I did have a battery problem, I could plug the EVSE back in and see how long the car charged. I figured the longer it charged, the more leakage one or more cells may have, so that is what I did. The wall clock indicated 6:00 AM when I started the charge. I picked up my iphone to start a stopwatch. Before I found the clock app on my phone, the EVSE stopped charging. The wall clock now indicated 6:01 AM. I don’t have an accurate time measurement, but I suspect it only charged 20 to 30 seconds. Honestly, I was expecting minutes. Am I correct in thinking that if there were cells not holding a charge, this second charge time would be longer, and thus indicate a battery problem? All comments will be appreciated.

Dave
2012 Black I-Miev
2012 Black Prius
 
JoeS said:
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.
Congratulations Joe. I also have two MiEV's, one with CHAdeMO and one without. How many miles are on the MiEV that you just purchased with CHAdeMO?
 
DaveMiller said:
This morning (Monday), I was thinking that if I did have a battery problem, I could plug the EVSE back in and see how long the car charged. I figured the longer it charged, the more leakage one or more cells may have, so that is what I did. The wall clock indicated 6:00 AM when I started the charge. I picked up my iphone to start a stopwatch. Before I found the clock app on my phone, the EVSE stopped charging. The wall clock now indicated 6:01 AM. I don’t have an accurate time measurement, but I suspect it only charged 20 to 30 seconds. Honestly, I was expecting minutes. Am I correct in thinking that if there were cells not holding a charge, this second charge time would be longer, and thus indicate a battery problem? All comments will be appreciated.
Interesting approach. I think all i-MiEVs re-engage their charging system for about 20 seconds upon a replug at full charge. Mine does this when I switch from level 1 to level 2 in the morning for preheat, but since I have a meter on my outlet, I can tell that the car doesn't pull anything when it does this, just the few watts for the contactors.
 
Hi Dave,

I don't think that's a good test for battery capacity. That's more a test for charge "memory", which Lithiums are supposed to be very tolerant. In other words, they don't loose charge when just sitting, so they "remember" their charge well. Other battery types (like the NiMH in your Prius) need more constant charging to stay fully charged.

One way to check capacity (if you don't have the tool - like most of us) is just to see how far you can drive. Even your distance + Range Remaining (RR) indicator is a pretty good indication without draining the batteries completely. But as Joe said, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Our warranty states we should have 70% of our range for the first 8 years. The few battery problems iMiev owners have had have been more dramatic (failed cell, no charging, etc), not a drop of capacity under the warranted level. We've personally driven nearly 23k over the past 2 1/2 years in our iMiev and don't see any degradation yet.

Btw ... I went this past Friday to CarMax to see what they would offer on my iMiev since I was considering trading up to a 2014. I was expected a kind of low-ball number, and I got it ;) (only $7k :( ). They don't have any way to log or value features like CHAdeMO, so though we have it, we were valued less by virtue of the higher number of miles we have relative to other iMievs they purchased, even if those lower mile iMievs don't have CHAdeMO. So, I think we're staying with our 2012 for now.
 
danpatgal said:
So, I think we're staying with our 2012 for now.

When, more for the sake of interesting discussion than financial prudence, I floated the idea that we trade MR BEAN for a 2014, (as my wife loves heated seats) she reminded me that we'd be giving up the navigation system, backup camera and hard drive full of our music. :eek: That backup camera instantly headlined the file of Things I Never Needed in a Car Until I Got One, and not being one to retreat into an earbud cocoon, I've listened to more old favorites in the past 18 months than in the decade prior! Also, for regional destinations and trip/range planning, the navigation system with all of our bookmarked locations is easier on the eyes than an iPhone (and the still-subpar Apple Maps), even despite the "Atari flashback" graphics. I don't recall when the Real Time Traffic service expires, but seeing one's route suddenly turn red with delays and being provided with detour options is much more civilized than switching to AM radio every ten minutes for a traffic report or rounding a bend to see a sea of brake lights!
 
Trying to scoot this thread back on topic...

RobertC said:
How many miles are on the MiEV that you just purchased with CHAdeMO?
:oops: I was afraid someone would ask this, so I'll 'fess up. I violated two of my most-important self-imposed prerequisites when I bought this second i-MiEV: low mileage and cool climate. The car has 24K miles on it and it lived in Bakersfield (HOT climate). So much for well-thought-out measured decisions. Let me just rationalize this by saying I'm happy to serve as a guinea pig for everyone else. :roll:

Edit years later - Postscript: A few months after this, this battery developed a cell failure and was replaced by Mitsubishi.

jray3 said:
…That backup camera instantly headlined the file of Things I Never Needed in a Car Until I Got One, and not being one to retreat into an earbud cocoon, I've listened to more old favorites in the past 18 months than in the decade prior! Also, for regional destinations and trip/range planning, the navigation system with all of our bookmarked locations is easier on the eyes than an iPhone (and the still-subpar Apple Maps), even despite the "Atari flashback" graphics. I don't recall when the Real Time Traffic service expires, but seeing one's route suddenly turn red with delays and being provided with detour options is much more civilized than switching to AM radio every ten minutes for a traffic report or rounding a bend to see a sea of brake lights!
And the first thing I tried to figure out was how to turn off that entire Nav display :shock: … jray3, I have a lot of learning to do and am looking forward to learning all these new features. In the meantime I've still barely driven the car as our houseguests are using it continuously.
 
Thank you all for your replies; it is most informative.

I have two more months on my 24 month lease, so I'm anxiously looking for an alternative. This car has been absolutely trouble-free the time I've had it. I would love to be able to buy this car, but the buy-out price is around $23K! I don't qualifty to take full advantage of the $7500 Federal tax credit, so buying used is more attractive to me. I see a few cars in Carmax that seems promising, but a few are from hot areas, viz. Texas and Florida.

Question to anybody living in hot areas: have you noticed any range degradation at all? My MiEV charges to the full 16 bars, and I consistently get a RR of 80+ miles each time, so in the 22 months that I've had it, I have not noticed any degradation at all. I understand that the RR is a guesstimate of the last 15 miles driven, but I still get over 80+ miles each charge.

This brings up another thought I had: I consistently charge to full each time with the idea that fully charging the batteries will equalize the batteries evenly, whereas if you charge only to 80%, some cells may not get balanced. The longer time between full charges, the longer some weak cells may remain out of balance. Am I wrong here? Is my logic flawed?

I want to say that I've learned a lot about my car through this forum. It is people like yourselves that so unselfishly take the time to answer other people's questions that knowledge about this car can be disseminated. I think that is the best feature of a social network. Thank you all.

BTW Joe, my car looks like your twin!
 
micmel2 said:
I have two more months on my 24 month lease, so I'm anxiously looking for an alternative. This car has been absolutely trouble-free the time I've had it. I would love to be able to buy this car, but the buy-out price is around $23K! I don't qualifty to take full advantage of the $7500 Federal tax credit, so buying used is more attractive to me.
In your situation it makes a lot of sense to buy used since you can't utilize that Federal tax credit. I had talked with a number of dealers over the last few months. You figure that they picked up the cars for $7K-$9K and are trying to sell them for, say, $13K. I had turned down an ES with CHAdeMO from Oakland Mitsubishi which was spotless and only had 6K miles on it but they wanted $12.9K and said they got it at auction for $11K. What pleasantly surprised me about that car is that the RR readout was 72. Anyway, I walked away intending to make them a lowball offer at year's end, but they sold it. I have no idea what the math is regarding leases, as who ends up taking the hit between, for example, your $23K and the final selling price? This issue will be exacerbated in the near future as cars start coming off super-cheap leases.

In your particular case, I can't help but wonder what happens after you turn the car in? They put it on auction? Can you find out where and if you could bid on it? Maybe do a little detective work and start greasing the skids, as your car with RR=80+ sounds highly desirable as a keeper!
micmel2 said:
I see a few cars in Carmax that seems promising, but a few are from hot areas, viz. Texas and Florida. Question to anybody living in hot areas: have you noticed any range degradation at all? My MiEV charges to the full 16 bars, and I consistently get a RR of 80+ miles each time, so in the 22 months that I've had it, I have not noticed any degradation at all. I understand that the RR is a guesstimate of the last 15 miles driven, but I still get over 80+ miles each charge.
Hopefully we can hear some comments from our hot-climate members.

In my own case living in the SF Bay mild climate, I had also been having RR=80+ miles until February of this year when I put on new Yokohama ENVigor tires and my RR plummeted to the mid-60's. Trouble is, at about the same time I had the car in for the Clipper Creek software upgrade and can't help wondering if there's a connection. That said, my actual driving range hasn't changed at all and I now have over 35K miles on that i-MiEV and still regularly do the 70-mile round trip to the Airport. Another data point for you: I'm happy to say that my first drive with my new used i-MiEV (24K miles) from a hot climate (Bakersfield) got me 60 actual miles and three bars remaining.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the new i-MiEV also has Yokohamas on the rear (the previous owner had to replace at 10K miles due to tire damage), but the original Dunlops are on the front and have LOTS of tread left (which attests to the gentle driving by the previous owner, as my own Dunlops were bald at 23K miles).
micmel2 said:
This brings up another thought I had: I consistently charge to full each time with the idea that fully charging the batteries will equalize the batteries evenly, whereas if you charge only to 80%, some cells may not get balanced. The longer time between full charges, the longer some weak cells may remain out of balance. Am I wrong here? Is my logic flawed?
There are many threads on this forum beating this topic to death. At one extreme, in a letter sent to owners in February 2012, Mitsu had recommended fully charging from two bars only once every couple of years, thus unbalanced cells is not an issue. Anecdotally, I've been running one of my Sparrows without a BMS for the last 16 months and the 36 Lithium(NMC) cells, incredibly, still give identical voltage readings! The consensus on battery care and feeding is to NOT leave the pack fully charged for any length of time, especially in hot weather, and also never fully discharge the pack (and be really easy on the accelerator at very low charge levels). In my own case, I only charge fully just before taking a longer trip (maybe 3-4 times a month), and normally operate the car between three and fourteen bars.
micmel2 said:
I want to say that I've learned a lot about my car through this forum. It is people like yourselves that so unselfishly take the time to answer other people's questions that knowledge about this car can be disseminated. I think that is the best feature of a social network. Thank you all. BTW Joe, my car looks like your twin!
Thank you for your compliment to everyone on this forum. BTW, I may have seen your car - I'm in the hills above Los Altos - have you ever been in this neck of the woods, as there's a white/blue i-MiEV that often visits Hidden Villa?
 
Joe, you are certainly a wealth of information. Thank you so much for your data points...it gives me a lot to think about.

I think someone in this forum mentioned that Ally Financial--the lease owner--will not budge from the residual; they would take back the car, and then auction it off to the dealers. I would love to be able to get in on that deal.

I don't know if it makes a difference to my continually good range, but I've been charging my 22-month MiEV with 20K+ miles on a 120 Volt EVSE at 12 amps nightly to full charge, and I haven't noticed any degradation at all. As you suggested, I don't leave it at full charge for long. My son will drive the MiEV for a 60 mile combination freeway/street trip and still come back with 4 bars left.

Granted that you haven't had your 2nd MiEV for very long, but I would like your opinion on getting a low mileage MiEV from a hot place like Texas. Would you get it? Would you take the risk? My concern--like everyone else's--is that the range could be severely compromised due to the extreme heat, and the unknown state the batteries may have been left in. Since the range for the MiEV is relatively low, the potential shorten range could prove to be detrimental. At least with the case of the Nissan Leaf, we know that worse comes to worst, you could spring for a new battery pack for approximately $5500, not so with Mitsubishi as of yet.

No, that is not me. I'm in the East Bay, and I don't venture out to your area very often.

Again, much thanks for your input.

Dave
 
micmel2 said:
Granted that you haven't had your 2nd MiEV for very long, but I would like your opinion on getting a low mileage MiEV from a hot place like Texas. Would you get it? Would you take the risk? My concern--like everyone else's--is that the range could be severely compromised due to the extreme heat, and the unknown state the batteries may have been left in. Since the range for the MiEV is relatively low, the potential shorten range could prove to be detrimental.
As you point out, we'd all like a nice answer to that. Well, I took the risk and bought an i-MiEV with 24K miles on it from Bakersfield, certainly a miserably hot place in the summer, and I'm not sure the original owner was fully clued-in about NOT leaving the car fully charged in the heat. So far, the car has been behaving exactly as I would expect from a 'good' car, but only time will tell…

Still have five years with that battery under warranty, but quantifying Mitsubishi's battery warranty details would perhaps make a good stand-alone topic on this Forum. So far, they've been excellent about replacing batteries, but those had non-capacity problems.

Your charging regimen is just fine, with Oakland rarely being subjected to temperature extremes. Your son is a very prudent EV driver!

I guess that your urgency is that you will be needing a car in a couple of months. Have you talked with the outfit you are leasing from? There's always the hope that they may wish to save themselves some work and might make you an offer you can't refuse… :roll: I'd be inclined to push that through a few levels of their management as someone there must be doing the math...
 
Joe, per your suggestion, I called Ally Financial about the possibility of negotiating the price of the car after my lease expires, and the verdict is that they will not negotiate at all. The car will be sold at a dealer auction which we retail buyers do not have access to. You're right in that someone will take a bath with the depreciated price of the vehicle, but Ally would rather take that route than negotiate with the lessee. Too bad, I would love to be able to buy this car, and I would surely have offered them a better deal than the mentioned offers others in this forum have been offered for their cars. Oh, well...

Dave
 
micmel2 said:
the verdict is that they will not negotiate at all. The car will be sold at a dealer auction which we retail buyers do not have access to.
Dave, you might already know someone who's experienced at the auctions. For instance, my favorite independent mechanic is a licensed dealer on the side, and he'd certainly bid on a car for me for a guaranteed fee. (Though I don't see him often since the iMiEV became our workhorse.) You could also bid it yourself. The process for getting approved on CoPart is very easy, except that's at a very low credit limit. Getting approved for a higher limit requires coughing up a substantial deposit.
 
I thought I would ask the collective mind of this forum for their opinion. I'm seriously looking at buying a used MiEV from Texas. According to the Carfax history report, the car I'm looking at went into service in January 2013 which would leave me about a year under warranty. The salesperson I spoke to said the car is clean with no issues. He was not able to tell me the condition nor capacity of the battery. Question: would you risk buying this car un-testdriven from a hot place like in Texas? Your pros and cons please. Thanks in advance.

Dave
 
Based on history, I would be more concerned by buying an i-MiEV from a cold place like Canada or worse temperature-wise. The battery failures we've seen have all been in northern climates. Only the LEAF has had a major issue with southern heat. Although, based on information from other threads, there is a decent portion of battery capacity "hidden" below 0% SoC. i-MiEVs are bottoming out around 3.3-3.5 volts per cell at or near 0%, but the actual cutoff voltage is 2.75. I don't know how much capacity those LEAFs lost, but our battery could probably lose 1 kWh of capacity (6%) without us noticing.

The only thing is, most of these southern cars (unless it has quick charge) don't have the ductwork going to the battery. The ductwork is only there on cold weather package/quick charge package ES models, cold weather package/premium package SE models, and all 2014s. Without it, you can't manually heat or cool the pack.
 
Here's one of the best presentations I've found on the subject.
http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/58145.pdf

In short, it says that degradation really speeds up above 35 degrees C, 95 F, but is of concern as low as 25 C/ 77 F.
On slide 16, it shows that after 2.5 years of service, an EV in Minneapolis would have about 5% capacity loss, while one in Phoenix would have 10%. It doesn't differentiate between the different lithium battery formulations until later in the presentation.
 
To micmel2. I sold my car to www.carmax.com. It is the only one listed on the web site from TX. I can give you more info if you PM me with your name and e-mail address. I took delivery in July 2012.
 
Way at the start of this thread JoeS wrote, in part --
".......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......"

I might view having CHAdeMO on a used MiEV as not desirable (unless I really wanted that feature for my own use.) In our use pattern we never had desire or need to do quick charging.
So the two reasons to not be looking for finding a used MiEV with CHAdeMO are:
a) It will limit the already limited number of used MiEVs as many didn't have CHAdeMo.
b) Perhaps more important: Fast charging on CHAdeMOis not good for batteries. If you don't know the history of how often the fast charge was done on that used MiEV (and used you may not) you may be buying a used MiEV with a significantly degraded battery if it was often fast charged.
 
micmel2 said:
J... the verdict is that they will not negotiate at all. The car will be sold at a dealer auction which we retail buyers do not have access to.....
Dave

As other said, there are several ways you can bid on your car at auction. Either in some cases by yourself, or by getting someone to be your proxy there (you CAN actually accompany a proxy there at most auctions, even if you can't bid... can be right next to them and tell them "raise the bid", etc.
Remember likely you'll be bidding against dealers there. The dealer knows he/she can only get, say, $10K when they resell that car AND that it may be a slow seller, so likely they won't drive the price up.
If you talk to enough people at the finance company or your dealer you can hopefully find out what auction it will be sold at.

By the way... What price DOES your finance company want from you if you were to directly purchase it at end of lease? And what miles on your car?
 
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