Trading your current car to buy Tesla S

Trading your current car to buy Tesla S

I have a 2013 Audi A7 (72K) financed for around $1400 a month. I also spend about $70 on premium gas every 5th day (without any long trips) with a monthly gas cost of around $420-450.

I called Tesla local dealer about ordering Model S and it will cost about $107K including sales taxes (before the federal tax deduction benefit) and I need to finance that amount to take the delivery of the car.

Financing over 100K will raise my monthly payment quite a bit, but hopefully I can count in the $400 savings in gas towards that! I am assuming my electricity bill will go up (in Florida) only by $50-100.
So if I am using all my gas savings for the new auto loan payment, I keep questioning myself what am I getting with model S for extra 30K compared to my beautiful A7. Most obvious gain is in the performance section (0-60 from 5 seconds to low 4 seconds).

Dealer will accept the trade in for my A7 not on their own but from the appraisal provided by "auto nation". He also mentioned that I could try to sell my A7 to another party (like car max or Audi dealer) and they will still try to work out the tax benefit into the final sale.

I always managed not to lose too much money in the trading process( I hate selling cars on my own as it is a hassle and I also get the tax benefit from the new car)till now.

I love to experience new auto technology but wondering how much negative equity I may end up after appraising my car, as they usually give you the lowest black book value unless you buy a new car from them.

Now the expected date of delivery from the ordering date seems to be only two months and my A7 appraisal may hold its value.

Any thoughts from the readers in similar situation is appreciated.

DouglasR | 11 April 2013

Have you driven the Model S?

stephen.kamichik | 11 April 2013

I just picked up my model S. I am trying to sell my 1976 Datsun 280Z at:

mikhaila | 11 April 2013

There is no sales tax in some states, like WA. Do you really need Performance model? Regular 85KWh is very fast since it has huge torque starting at zero rpm. You may also consider ordering high power wall connector later and save a few grand. It is only needed if you will be draining battery a lot and will need to charge car fast to drive more.

jat | 11 April 2013

Well, you can't imagine trading a 2013 high-end Audi so soon isn't going to cost you a bundle -- basically, you took a big hit in depreciation just driving it off the lot.

marcsbussin | 11 April 2013

Sold my Audi A7 2013 with only 4500 miles on it. Definitely took a bath. Sold it to auto nation. Audi would have given me the same amount. Love my new Tesla although its in the shop for a creaking noise in the sun roof. Can't wait to get it back. Currently driving our Q5 SUV and so missing my tesla!!!

EcLectric | 11 April 2013

The performance of the Model S is worth it, but I would not count on saving a lot of money on electricity vs gasoline. You need to do your homework before you decide what you can afford. I live in CA and our utility (PG&E) has a 'tier' system that assures that the more electricity you use, the more you pay per Kw-h.

I have switched to the 'time of use' pricing plan, which will lower my electricity cost (hopefully), but so far everything else being the same, my PG&E bill has gone up by at least $150 per month. This compares to spending about $200 on gasoline. So I'm saving $50/mo.

kilimats | 11 April 2013

holly shit some of you spend crazy $$$ on cars, $1400/month + $70/5days, thats ridiculous.....especially considering the value of that brand new car is going down the toilet super fast

at least it's all worth it with the Tesla

kilimats | 11 April 2013

to put things in perspective, i paid cash for my 2005 VW Wagon TDI $9500 and i spend probably $60 per month on diesel (thats 40km daily commute to work + all the usual week end activities), talk about wasting money on brand new toys .....

rdalcanto | 11 April 2013

I feel your pain. I'm going to sell my 2012 Porche 911S if I decide to buy the Tesla. I paid $115K, and the dealer will give me $87K. Hoping to sell it myself for $95K.... We'll see.

MGlasfeld | 11 April 2013

I just did the Car Max drill myself, in order to keep my household's rolling stock population growth in check. Boy, was I impressed.

Like you, pramod1969, I wasn't looking forward to the hassle of selling a car on my own. I had never been to a Car Max lot, but, 35 minutes after getting there, I had a check in hand that was a little bit higher than what I calculated on Kelly Blue Book's site.

A painless process.

riceuguy | 11 April 2013

CarMax is indeed great...always higher than AutoNation and no hassles. I once got a great deal on a new truck, and sold it to CarMax a year later for a small profit!

pramod1969 | 12 April 2013

Thank you for all your responses.

I thought if I ever upgrade to model S, I will get the high performance version to feel better about selling my A7 for low price.
I see the final difference between 85KW S and S performance is around 14K.

Either way, 72 month financing 95K for non performance version at 4% APR still costs close to $1500 a month. If I have a 8K negative equity on my Audi, I will be even more.

I heard majority of the buyers opt for that so I expect most buyers to pay that much every month unless they have lot of positive equity on their current cars.

In my situation, all my gas savings will go toward new higher loan and if I keep the car for 7 years to finish payments, I may end up saving money ($300/month= $3600/yr= ~25K).

Unless I need a new battery after 8 year warranty is up for 10K.

I do love to change cars often as I get bored, so I am still thinking about investing in a new company with ?resale value and real savings coming only after 7-8 years of ownership.

I almost got a Fisker Karma and now it is bankrupt I heard!

jat | 12 April 2013

@pramod1969 - cars are not, in general, vehicles for accumulation of wealth. Rather, they are liabilities.

Buy the car that does the job you need and gives whatever features you want as a convenience, not because you think it will save you money or have good resale value. Even though the fuel costs on the Model S are much lower, you will never recover the cost over an ICE just on that, so buy the Model S because of other attributes of the car.

dstiavnicky | 12 April 2013

You likely may not need the perf MS. Biggest difference is off the line.

I traded my Lexus RX450h for the Tesla... then I got rid of my 911 4S as I wasn't driving it anymore. My net savings are over $1,500 / month!

fluxemag | 12 April 2013

I'm going to sell my 2010 G37 myself. Went to Carmax and they were about 5k below KBB private sale and 3k below trade in. The local Infiniti dealer was even worse. Even if I sell it myself for the trade in value it will be worth it, especially when I have the MS to drive and I can just park the G clean and ready for sale. Took some financial juggling to pay off the car 3 years early, but having the title in hand should help. And I had been considering pulling some money out of the market around now anyways.

cgiGuy | 12 April 2013

Where are you located, fluxemag? I'm going to try to get rid of an 2010 EX35 at Carmax here in San Antonio. Hoping they do a little better on the offer than 3K under KBB.

fluxemag | 12 April 2013

I'm in Scottsdale and went to the Carmax in Chandler. It's not a terrible deal, Auto Nation was the worst. And for the convenience factor if you still owe on your car, and not having to deal with the public I understand doing it. But based on talking to my Dad who just bought a used BMW motorcycle private sale, people are spending money like it's their job right now. He said they were selling before he could even drive there. Obviously a different toy (similar price tag), but got me thinking that people are spending discretionary income right now. Worst case scenario I dump it off at Carmax after a month of trying to sell myself.

cgiGuy | 12 April 2013

Thanks--I've had it on Autotrader and Craigslist for 2 months at a little under KBB and haven't had a single bite.

Auto Nation came back with a low-ball offer ($6K under KBB).

dockt | 12 April 2013

I agree w/ -- also, don't forget that soon Tesla will make us pay for the monthly wireless service to connect our nav/Slacker/internet = $30/month estimated. And we have to pay $600 a year for a maintenance checkup (or prepay for a bit less). The tires will last about 6000 miles and stock will cost at least $1000 mounted.

I am not saying to not buy the Model S -- there is nothing else like it and it makes me feel good everyday (which is priceless). But we all have to "pay to play." What about the new financing Tesla is offering?

Brian H | 12 April 2013

That's cheating, like having 2 trade-ins on one car purchase!

rochec | 12 April 2013

@dockt where are you getting 6000 miles from for the life of the tires?? That's incredibly low.

jat | 12 April 2013

@dockt - tires lasting 6000mi? I assume you have 21" and are driving it hard, as my 19" tires have 4300mi on them with no noticeable wear (there are even rubber tags left on the side). Of course that may change after I take it to the track next week :)

rochec | 12 April 2013

@jat even 21s with some pretty hard driving should last far longer than that. Low profile tires shouldn't age much different than regular.

kyleket | 12 April 2013


4% APR??? That's pretty high interest. Check out my 1.49% loan story with Alliant Credit Union:

My total, after the 10% down payment, came to approx. $85,000. Monthly payments are just over $1200 for 72 mo. Almost free money.

jat | 12 April 2013

@rochec - sticky tires wear very fast -- I have friends with sticky low-profile tires, and they replace them every 8-10k miles, but they drive them pretty hard. My MR2, which also had a lot of negative camber in the rears and lots of power, got about 25k miles on the rear and 60k miles on the fronts (they were different size, so I couldn't rotate them).

FLsportscarenth... | 12 April 2013


Hope your S is back... Just curious, are you going to dump the Q5 for a Model X next year?

rochec | 12 April 2013

@jat I had an Audi RS4 and had about 15k miles on mine and didn't have a tremendous amount of wear.

FLsportscarenth... | 12 April 2013


If you get the 19 inch tyres I think it will be a lot more cost effective. 1K for tyres... I think not... If TSLA wants that much I will get them done somewhere else. If you go platinum on service and accessories you can erase a lot of your fuel savings... Done smartly, driving Tesla WILL save you money, the longer you keep the car the more you save...

carlk | 13 April 2013

I too question some of the stories around this forum that MS tires last only something like 6K miles. My Cayman S has 35 profile PSII that is much stickier than the 21" Conti on MS. I'm able to get about 12K~15K on the rear, and about 20K on the front, with pretty spirited driving style. That's the very least you should expect with even the 21" on MS, and likely much more, unless you have some very uncommon driving style.

Eknight47 | 18 August 2013

Another plug for CarMax. I got an autotrader quote, an autonation quote and a quote from 2 different Benz dealerships (including the dealership where I had purchased the car new in 2009 and had it serviced since) and CarMax was by far the best price. The entire process was painless.

michael1800 | 18 August 2013

Sounds like throwing away 10k or so isn't a big deal for you. So, test drive the Model S and move forward from there based on gut.

Dripps | 18 August 2013

This is my biggest headache. I'm trying to sell my car on my own and I'm seeing little to no action.
I have always gone the trade-in route because it's easy. There is no sales tax in NJ on the Tesla so that doesn't really matter now, but I'd like to sell this car before my Model S arrives. CarMax is a couple hours away. I got an offer through but sure seems low.

get_amped | 18 August 2013

Took me six weeks to sell my '12 A6. CarMax offered $8k below what I was able to get for it privately.
Got as many calls from Craigslist as I did from Autotrader. If you're not in a rush it pays off to take your time and sell it privately.

Eknight47 | 18 August 2013

Selling it privately is absolutely the best route to get your max return. Of course the difference varies on what you'd get over the CarMax price depending on what you're getting rid of. We probably missed out on $2K MAX on my wife's MB R350 by going to CarMax...but hey, that's almost a TMS Sound Studio or air suspension package! In our case it was almost worth avoiding any hassles to just get it over and done with. Not many people clambering for an R350 :-).

Dripps | 18 August 2013

I'm selling a 2011 Lincoln MKZ hybrid and it still has manufacturers warranty! Driving around with a damn FOR SALE sign in my windows. Ugh. No calls from Craig's list. I thought a hybrid would sell fast.

Dramsey | 18 August 2013

As others have noticed, you'll take a huge hit on selling what's essentially a brand-new high end Audi.

I have a 2013 A6 Prestige and while I was very impressed with the Mod S Performance (and will be test driving another one without the Plus suspension package next week) and probably will buy one, it cannot replace the A6-- at least not for me-- simply because I take several long driving trips per year that won't be feasible with the Mod S for quite some time.

flight505 | 14 April 2015

The buyer of my Porsche twin turbo used his dealer to work out a "courtesy trade" for the Tesla P85D I was buying. This way I paid no sales tax because my Porsche was worth, retail, more than the Tesla I was buying. Dealers, of course, will not pay retail. I got fairly close to retail and let my Porsche go. My 993 series twin turbo was 0-60 MPH in 3.6 seconds but still not electric motor type response.

I encourage buyers to sell their trade-in's to private buyers to get much closer to retail value on a "courtesy trade." They may have to find an outside dealer to perform the transaction. However, retail is so much higher than wholesale and the "courtesy trade" saves the full price of the trade-in car on sales tax - at least in states other than California.

I live in Texas, but have heard in California that buyers pay full sales tax on a new car instead of the difference in price between their trade-in and the new car. Is this correct?