If I Buy a Used Tesla, Do I Get Free Supercharging For Life or Not?

By Nicki Schill •  Updated: 10/11/21 •  7 min read

One of Tesla’s biggest selling points in the early days was Free Unlimited Supercharging with the purchase of a vehicle.

All across the country’s Supercharger network, you could roll in with your Tesla and charge up for free.

They even made this a staple feature for used Teslas, which was such a great incentive for the electric revolution to really take off.

There seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there, but as with any good deal, it never lasts forever.

As of this writing, there is no Free Unlimited Supercharging for new or used Teslas.

However, there’s one exception—pre-2017 Model S and X vehicles bought with transferable Free Unlimited Supercharging.

Why has Tesla made this seemingly too-good-to-be-true offer so difficult to attain?

Let’s dive into how Tesla owners used to get their free Supercharging on and the ways you can still cash in today.

Recommended Read: Things to Do Before Supercharging Your Tesla

Tesla Pulled the Plug on Free Unlimited Supercharging in 2017

Back in the early days, both the Model S and the Model X came with Free Unlimited Supercharging.

Sadly, not for the Model Y or the Model 3. 

However, in April 2017, Tesla put an end to this amazing offer, and no more vehicles have been sold with transferable Free Unlimited Supercharging.

Then came the one-off incentives that made things even more complicated.

To move late-year inventory, Tesla brought back the Free Unlimited Supercharging for a short time in 2018, even on the Model 3s.

These incentives could be brought back at any time if Tesla is looking to meet quotas but the free Supercharging is unlikely to ever be transferable again.

“Sorry, it’s not really sustainable at volume production and doesn’t incentivize optimal behavior. We probably should have ended this earlier.”

Elon Musk on Free Unlimited Supercharging

Now for 2014–2017 models sold with the Free Unlimited Supercharging, owners remarked how the feature was attached to the vehicle, not the purchaser. Hence, it was transferable.

This created a frenzy for people buying used Teslas later on to take advantage of those free charging miles.

It was difficult to pinpoint the exact date when the offer went into effect and when it expired.

Potential buyers had to rely on the sellers when it came to the free Supercharging offer to verify when the vehicle was purchased.

If you’re hell-bent on getting those free Supercharging miles, there are ways to locate models specifically from this time frame. We’ll get into that later on.

R.I.P. Tesla Referral Plan

Tesla also had a sweet referral option on all their models that would give you up to 1,000 miles of free Supercharging.

Here’s how it worked:

  1. The owner of a Tesla vehicle would get a unique referral code or link to share with prospective Tesla buyers.
  2. If a buyer used this referral link or code to purchase or lease a Tesla vehicle, then both the buyer and the referrer would get the reward.
  3. That reward was 1,000 miles of free Supercharging (400 kWh) at Tesla Supercharger stations worldwide for both the referrer and the referred buyer. These miles were never transferable.

These reward miles didn’t come cheap, though.

It was revealed that Tesla had spent $23 million giving away free Supercharging in the first quarter of 2021 alone.

This could be the reason the company decided to axe the program in September.

We’ll have to wait and see if this sticks because Elon has stated that they would look to revamp the referral program in the near future.

So with the referral program buried for now and the Free Unlimited Supercharging offer off the table, crafty Tesla buyers are on the hunt for the elusive used models that still have free miles attached to them.

How to Tell if a Car Has Free Unlimited Supercharging

The golden rule when looking for a Tesla with free Supercharging miles attached is to confirm with Tesla.

A Tesla service representative can look this up for you in minutes if you give them a quick call, and it’s the most accurate way to check for Free Unlimited Supercharging on a vehicle.

In a pinch and can’t get a hold of anyone at Tesla? Here are a couple of helpful hints to know what to look for if you’re wanting to cash in on some free Supercharging:

Remember that private seller transfers are the only way to get Free Unlimited Supercharging now that Tesla has pulled it from new sales.

Here are some steps to follow to know for sure that the used Tesla you’re eyeing has the feature:

  1. If the car was first registered by April 2017, press the charging icon on the top left of the screen to bring up the charging display.
  2. In the bottom right-hand corner, you will find a display that shows recent supercharging activity.
  3. If under “Current Session” it says “No Recent Supercharging,then the car should have transferable supercharging. Note if it says anything else, including $0, then these are not transferable charging miles.
  4. Remember too that if the car was first registered after April 2017, you’re out of luck; the supercharging won’t be transferable. So even if on screen it shows “no recent supercharging,” it still won’t matter.

Here’s a handy chart to remember the dates for each model and a general guideline for which ones might have the Free Unlimited Supercharging option.

If I Buy a Used Tesla, Do I Get Free Supercharging?
Credit to FindMyElectric

If you’re going ahead with the deal, it might also be a good idea to get the seller to agree to meet you at a nearby Supercharger to test out what the vehicle has attached in terms of free mileage. 

Extra bonus, you get to see how the vehicle handles Supercharging.

Where to Find Cars with Free Unlimited Supercharging

So now you know what to look for, the question remains on where you can find used Tesla vehicles that still have Free Unlimited Supercharging.

FindMyElectric has a Tesla vehicles listing page that makes sure to publicize the important details you’d need, including whether the Tesla being sold has Free Unlimited Supercharging or not.

Check out the “Features” tab of the vehicle listing to see if it has Free Unlimited Supercharging mentioned like the one below

If I Buy a Used Tesla, Do I Get Free Supercharging?

From the home page, you can even type in Supercharging as a filter to narrow down your search.

OnlyUsedTesla seems to be another popular place for private sellers to list their vehicles — and you may find the “Free Unlimited Supercharging” specified on the listing.

A listing example on OnlyUsedTesla. Not a bad price for an unlimited-free-supercharging Model S.

Final Thoughts: If I Buy a Used Tesla, Do I Get Free Supercharging For Life?

If you’re lucky enough to grab one of these used models available with Free Unlimited Supercharging, all the power to you.

Just make sure to double-check if the miles are transferable and you’re good to go.

For those waiting on a revamped referral program or maybe a late-year inventory incentive to get some of those free miles, only time will tell what Elon has up his sleeve.

Nicki Schill

Nicki Schill is a writer and content marketer out of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. As the former Geotab Marketing Manager, she’s got loads of experience in electric vehicles and fleet electrification. She’s a tech blogger and marketing guru who enjoys all things Canadian like hockey and poutine.

Keep Reading