Private Party Purchase - Not Happy with Tesla - Basically told, tough, wait for DMV

Private Party Purchase - Not Happy with Tesla - Basically told, tough, wait for DMV

The excitement of purchasing a Tesla Model 3 has been seriously soured by Tesla. Had been so excited to get this car and after months and months, finally did.

Being that the Model 3 is still so new, I can only assume this hasn't been a real issue yet as most Model 3's probably haven't been sold yet.

I purchased a Model 3 from a private party seller. Got financing. The bank was great, took care of all the paperwork, DMV paperwork, paid off the original owner's loan, etc. As with any private party sale, you have a bill of sale and the original owner's registration until CA DMV sends you your registration in the mail 30-90 days later. In this case, also have the loan documents.

The seller sent a request to Tesla, notifying them that he sold the car and to please transfer the car into my Tesla Account so I can use the car as it's designed, with the phone as the key. I also called ahead to verify the process, then made the request to Tesla as well and sent in all my paperwork to verify my ownership of the car.

After 2+ weeks, the car still was not showing in My Tesla account. Called in, was told by the person I spoke with, they have everything they need and verified that they received the seller's request, so it will be a simple process and just a matter of them getting to it as they're busy. 2+ weeks alone is bad enough for a simple process, but OK, can live with that.

Finally, get a reply, that pretty much seemed to ignore all of the details I sent them. But they requested my DL copy and proof of ownership, again, despite having already sent it to them.

Sent it all again. Several days later, finally get a reply that says they need the actual registration or title. Again, this was already explained to them, how the car was purchased. Verifying beforehand that if the seller makes the request, there will be no issues. Apparently indicating that if you purchased from a dealer, you'd need these things for them to be able to transfer the car into your account, but since it's private party, the seller can make the request directly.

Finally, I get a smart alec-ly written e-mail that says, "it doesn't matter if the seller made the request, all that does is allow us to take it out of their account, you have to send us the registration or title for us to put it into your account, we won't accept anything else, bill of sale, owner's request, bank documents are not acceptable, it must be a color copy of the registration or title, you have to wait until you have what we require".

Again, pleading with them to try and explain, that's simply not possible since the bank took care of the DMV paperwork. I asked for a supervisor to look at it as this seemed like a common sense issue to resolve. Instead, now they simply don't reply. Or at least they haven't in the past 5 days, so am over three weeks and still not able to properly use the car as it was designed.

Disappointing that this is how Tesla welcomes a new member to the family. The DMV is willing to give me title to the car based on the bill of sale and seller's request. The bank is willing to give me a bunch of money to purchase the car based on a bill of sale and seller's authorization to sell the car. Law enforcement officers accept these forms of verifications as well. Yet, Tesla, just to simply put the car into my Tesla account so I can use the car as designed, mandates that only the Registration from the DMV is acceptable. Common sense tells you that nobody gets their registration the day they purchase the car. BTW, they also said, a temporary registration card is also not acceptable, so sounds like even if I purchased this from a dealer and had a window registration, that wouldn't be acceptable either.

As great as the car seems to be, if I had the option, knowing what I know now, I would back out of the purchase as I've never had another manufacturer respond in this way. Even the old "dealers" are more than eager to find a solution to any problem. Tesla is basically saying "tough, deal with it". Maybe they don't want to reward owners for selling their cars and discourage it by penalizing the new buyer for not purchasing the car directly from them?

Operating this car with just the key card is somewhat ridiculous. I'm an old fashioned kind of person. I still open the door for my wife. Now, "sorry honey, I have to go unlock the door on the other side of the car first, then come back around the car to open your door, you'll just have to wait because Tesla said so". "Yes, I know it's pouring rain, sorry". Want to load items into the frunk? Unlock the driver door, get inside, pull up the locks on the screen, get out, go back and load up. Walk up to the car with your hands full? Set everything down so you can dig in your pocket for this key card thing, swipe it to unlock the doors/trunk, pick everything back up and put it in the car. Take more than two minutes to do this apparently, after you've finally sat down in the car to drive away, dig out the key card again and swipe it on the console so the car will start. Sorry, but whoever came up with this idea should be fired. Can't imagine loaning out your car to a friend or family member. Have to either give them access to your account or they have to deal with all of this to be able to borrow the car.

And this isn't the worst part. As annoying as it is dealing with just the key card, I was still looking forward to my first gas free trip with the car. Headed out on a planned 400 +/- mile trip. Stopped at a supercharger after 190 miles to charge the car and the car wouldn't charge. Called Tesla and they said the car isn't under an account, so we can't enter billing information to charge for charging and told me I couldn't charge the car. So now, had to go find a public charging station, pay an astronomical rate to charge the car, which took several hours. At this point, was steaming from the ears. Turned around and drove the car back home, knowing that I wouldn't be able to charge the car anywhere along the way. Certainly wasn't going to spend hours at each stop.

After three+ weeks of dealing with this, I now just leave the car in the garage and am continuing to drive my old car until the snail's pace DMV eventually sends me the registration so I can finally get the car into my account so I can use my phone as the key. Very disappointing that Tesla doesn't care to solve such a simple issue and apparently expects all customers in this situation to have to wait 30-90 days for the DMV before they'll give you the privilege of using the car you own as it was designed.

So, buyers of used cars from any place other than Tesla, beware. Sadly, I called to verify the process with Tesla before purchasing the car, only to learn that what I was told was not true. I guess, now that I'm stuck with the car, I'll have to get over it at some point and hopefully be able to enjoy the car. Just so disappointing that what should have been an exciting experience is so soured.

jjgunn | 30. august 2019

Wonder how much OP saved vs. new on a private sale?

Also wonder why original owner sold?

geedub1023 | 30. august 2019

Like the OP, I too bought my M3 from a private party. It's a 2018 LR RWD, Blue, 19" wheels, with premium interior. (it had 4,100 miles on it). Unlike the OP, I didn't have any problems with Tesla transferring the M3 account over to me. I will say I didn't have the luxury of the benefits of the Tesla delivery (explaining the M3's features, etc.) but I knew this in advance so I did my homework ahead of time and watched A LOT of YouTube videos.

As far as how much I saved, etc., the seller paid $52,500 in 2018 (I saw the original Tesla "sticker") and probably received the full $7500 EV savings/discount. He sold it to me for $44,500 so IMO I'd say it was pretty close to me buying it from Tesla directly. The seller already had a Model S so he wanted to compare it to the M3 before he decided which one he wanted to keep. Lucky for me he chose the S and I bought the 3. No regrets, no nightmares for me, love my Tesla!

I wish the OP the best of luck!

apodbdrs | 30. august 2019

Question is: How have other private parties completed their deals? @tnappra, pretty sure you are not the first person to buy a Tesla from a private party?

vmulla | 30. august 2019

I transferred my second M3 reservation in Apr 2018. The only hang up was the creation of a separate owner account for the buyer.
Tesla wanted to verify that the transaction was legit. They asked for registration info confirming the new owner, and am email from me relinquishing the car. Fair checks to make sure nothing screwy takes place.
Once we provided the info it took Tesla 3 weeks to process it all. Until that time the buyer and I worked on a trust basis - we could see each other's cars in the app. Once everything was sqaured away I changed my password and everyone was happy.
The process I experienced is necessary to avoid bad situations - it's the right thing to do.

Unrelated to the topic of the thread: BTW the guy who bought the car was a Turo renter from me. He was so darn impressed with the car that he couldn't wait to get it.