Case Study: 2014 Tesla Model S 85

How a dealership lost $15K on a single trade


  • Dealership purchased a 2014 Tesla Model S with 61k miles after a thorough inspection
  • After 1 week, the car showed a critical battery error that totaled the car, losing 15k immediately
  • Conclusion - Don't buy EVs unless you have the right tools to evaluate them

In October 2023, a franchised dealership for a popular German brand purchased a 2014 Tesla Model S 85 with 65k miles for approximately $22k from a walk-in customer.

Based on a visual inspection and a test drive, the service department gave the car a passing grade. The battery charged and the car accelerated quickly. The light gray interior and dark blue metallic exterior were both desirable and in good condition.

Within a few days, when the sales department sent the car to be prepped, they found a new problem - a battery management system (BMS) fault code u029 and a message on the dashboard “Maximum charge level reduced”. From there, it took 2 weeks to speak to Tesla, identify that the battery warranty was expired, and assess the new value of the vehicle – an estimated $7k wholesale.

The dealership contacted vsNEW in late November 2023 and asked us to run a report.

Tesla Model S

However, with the fault code already on the car, this just confirms the problem. How would vsNEW perform on the car without the code?

Here’s where things get interesting. After some software and hardware wrangling, we were able to both clear the code and reset the BMS.

BMS_u029 Code with
Maximum Charge Level Reduced

Code Cleared and BMS Reset


Even with the code cleared and the BMS reset, vsNEW was still able to identify the problem brick and flag the battery.



We suspect that the previous owner of the vehicle likely encountered the problem with the vehicle’s battery, found a way to clear the code, and then sold the vehicle to the dealership.

How does a dealership trust an EV trade-in? How does a used EV buyer trust a battery sold by a dealer or private seller?

Dealerships need to use tools built to evaluate EV Batteries, like vsNEW, to ensure they are buying the best EVs and avoiding the worst ones.

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