Buying a used Chevy Volt

Is buying a used Chevy Volt a good idea? That depends on several factors, but let’s be clear. Buying any used electric or plug-in hybrid car is taking a step into the unknown. Gasoline powered cars have been around for more than 100 years. Electrics and plug-ins like the Volt have been around for 5 years.

Newer conventional cars are a known quantity. Unless they have been abused, they are generally good for 200,000 miles or more of reliable service. An electric car? Who knows? Will they still be reliable when they are 5, 8, or 10 years old? We simply don’t know, and the unknown has a way of driving down prices.

The biggest question most used car shoppers have about an electric car is, how long will the battery last and how much will it cost to replace if it fails? Once again, there isn’t a lot of history to guide you. The Nissan LEAF, for example, has dismal resale value, primarily because early cars had issues with battery failure. The problem occurred mostly with cars operated in very hot climates, like Arizona and New Mexico.

Nissan stepped up. It redesigned the battery to help it survive in hot climates and it extended the battery warranty to give owners peace of mind. But the damage was done. Word got out and people started thinking that buying a used LEAF was asking for trouble. Prices for used cars dropped like a rock.

Fortunately, Chevrolet decided to use liquid cooling for the battery in the Volt from the beginning. That was a smart decision. There are virtually no reports of early battery depredation or failure of the Volt battery. As a result, prices for a used Volt are nearly double what they are for a used LEAF of similar age and mileage.

The Volt has had several upgrades to its battery since it was first introduced in 2010 as a 2011 model. It had a 16 kWh battery which was carried over to the 2012 Volt as well. It was enlarged to 16.5 kWh in 2013 and 2014 Volts, and then again to 17.1 kWh for a single model year, 2015.

The 2011 Volt had a list price of $41,000 and came very well equipped. Over the years, Chevy has fiddled with various pricing and options strategies, but the base price dropped to $34,995 (including transportation) by 2014. The base price of the revised 2016 car will be cut another $1,000 to $33,995.

Buying a used car is always risky. Buying directly from a private seller will often result in the best price, but buying from a reputable dealer will give you the peace of mind of knowing you are getting a car that has been fully serviced and checked over. It may also come with an extended factory warranty.

So, is buying a used Volt a good idea? The car’s have an excellent reputation for reliability. Volt owners are happier with their cars than owners of any other Chevrolet model in history. You will still qualify as a pioneer in the green car revolution, but all the available information suggests the Volt will be durable and reliable for years to come. That should help you sleep comfortably at night while your new-to-you Chevy Volt is quietly recharging in your driveway.