CarGurus launched their Instant Max Cash Offer system last summer (2021), hoping to capitalize on the ever-growing movement of consumers who want to buy and sell cars entirely online, and dealerships have since started signing up for the program.
It’s not a bad idea, really. Getting an instant cash offer for your Tesla entirely online beats taking it all the way to a dealership and trying out your best haggling skills on a car salesman.
But there are a few things that you need to know about a CarGurus online instant offer for your used Tesla. Let’s look at why the CarGurus system may fall short of their claim for “the best offer instantly” when it comes to Teslas, and how you really can find the best offer when you’re ready to sell.
Selling a Tesla Online: CarGurus Is a General Middleman
CarGurus has traditionally been an online listing service used by car owners and dealers alike. We like to think of them as a car-selling jack-of-all-trades, meaning they’d pretty much let you list Cinderella’s magic pumpkin if it had a motor and a VIN. They’re friendly to everybody and have centered their business on providing an online marketplace in an increasingly digital world. All for a pretty fee.
While they have most of their experience in selling internal combustion engine cars, CarGurus is doing a bit more business lately with electric vehicles (EVs). They’ve adapted some of their listing language to accommodate EVs, and their dealers, buyers, and sellers benefit from at least some awareness of what’s important on an EV and what’s not.
Since they are traditionally a listing service, how does the CarGurus Instant Max Offer System work when you want to sell a used Tesla? Well, like with most other cash offer systems, it depends on the dealerships that have signed on to the CarGurus network.
Dealerships added to the CarGurus matrix respond to the instant offer system once you’ve entered your info. Any kind of dealership, with any kind of experience level, can give you an offer on your car if they are a part of the CarGurus network. This would be great if you were getting an offer on a Honda from a Honda dealership, but it’s not so great if the Honda dealership wants to try their hand at purchasing your used Tesla.
At Find My Electric, we don’t bother adding a dealership to our offer network unless they’ve done their homework on all things Tesla, while a CarGurus dealership may still be trying to figure out how to charge a plug-in hybrid.
But CarGurus will rate your offer, so you can tell if it’s a good or bad deal, right? Not really, thanks to how they use their rating system to potentially keep you from researching reasonable offers yourself.
The IMV: How CarGurus Prevents You from Doing Your Own Research
CarGurus does like to tell you that a sales value for your Tesla is good, fair, or overpriced. However, they don’t like to tell you how they came to that conclusion. And for good reason, because it seems a bit shady: the IMV (Instant Market Value) is based entirely on CarGurus’ own data that is generated from their own site.
While it sounds like they are doing market research, they are only researching their own marketplace. The IMV doesn’t provide an accurate market picture because it only references previous CarGurus sales.
Additionally, the CarGurus Instant Offer is not as transparent as offers you’d get from an online listing; you won’t know which dealership is interested in your car, just that there’s at least one CarGurus’ matrix dealership in your area. The only offer you see is the one that CarGurus decides is worth the most to them. This basically means that the dealership with the best client relationship to CarGurus gets the right to make you an offer, whether or not it’s the best offer for you.
At the same time, CarGurus tells you that the Max Cash Instant Offer for your Tesla is a good deal according to the IMV. In other words, CarGurus may be trying to convince you that you are getting a great offer from one of their own dealership customers based on other prices in their own market. Seems like a conflict of interest, doesn’t it?
Tesla Technology: CarGurus is No Expert
We’ve already mentioned that the dealerships associated with CarGurus pretty much come from anywhere if they are willing to pay a subscription fee. This means that any offer you receive really has no guaranteed EV or Tesla expertise behind the keyboard.
Does CarGurus give you an appropriate value for your Autopilot software and hardware configuration? If the filtering options on their Tesla listings are any indication, they don’t see Autopilot as an important feature of the car at all. The software might be important enough to write in the dealer’s text description, but that’s not helpful when you want to filter for a used Model S with AP 2.5 or AP 3. And if the listing side doesn’t care which options your Tesla has, it’s likely that the Max Cash Instant Offer side doesn’t care, either.
When the tech of a used Tesla has little guaranteed value in a CarGurus Cash Offer, the chances of you getting a fair value for your Tesla’s unique transferable perks like Free Unlimited Supercharging are also pretty slim. And you can forget extra value for rare options and limited paint colors like Signature Red.
The reality is that it’s difficult to tell whether or not a CarGurus dealership has any experience with Tesla tech and options. You really won’t know what your Tesla is being valued for in your offer.
When we add a new dealership to the Find My Electric dealer network, we make sure they are fully vetted and verified. Each one is an EV dealer that knows their stuff when it comes to Tesla, and you can be confident that they can see the value in your Tesla’s hardware, software, and everything else that makes your Tesla unique.
Location, Location, Location: Who Can Use CarGurus Max Cash Instant Offer?
As of November, 2021, the CarGurus Max Cash Offer isn’t available in all states. More dealerships will have to be added to the lineup before CarGurus can really provide an entirely online sale in the US. Since CarGurus isn’t a dealership themselves, they don’t hold any inventory. Physical pickup and drop-off locations for cars still matter and still need to be coordinated.
Currently, the CarGurus Cash Offer is limited to Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Michigan, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Great for those states, a bummer for anybody else. By the way, the Find My Electric network extends across the US, because we don’t like the idea of leaving anybody out.
Aside from your location, CarGurus uses a few other factors as grounds for not generating a quote. Age tends to matter, as older cars tend to be less valuable without warranty and with use, and there’s one more consideration: the presence of aftermarket mods.
Leave Mods at the Door: Aftermarket Modifications are Not Welcome
One of the consistent problems with many Instant Offer sites is that most have little to no desire to deal with cars that have aftermarket modifications. Even if you’ve put a lot of reasonable time and money into aftermarket mods for your Tesla, CarGurus and others like them may find it easier to just say “no thanks, sell it yourself.”
So if the dealerships in the CarGurus network don’t give you an accurate view on pricing, don’t want your mods, and don’t properly know how to value used Teslas, where can you go to sell a Tesla 100% online?
Right here, actually.
Find My Electric: The Best Tesla-Informed Instant Cash Offer
We provide a market space for Tesla’s amazing vehicles.
And that’s it. Just Tesla. No other brands, no other cars.
While listing your Tesla yourself is the best way to get the most value for your car, not everybody has the time or the confidence to sell privately. We’re known for our Tesla-informed listing service and Tesla-centric filtering, but we also provide an option for an Instant Cash Offer that makes sense for Tesla owners.
You’ll get the best offer for your Tesla when your buyer understands what you’re selling. Find My Electric’s Instant Cash Offer system puts you in touch with our network of dealers who have been vetted and verified by us, the used Tesla experts.
We’ve interviewed each dealer in our network on all things Tesla, so you can get a truly Tesla-informed offer when you submit a request. This knowledge extends to Tesla technology, options, features, and major brand aftermarket modifications.
We let our dealers compete against each other to bring you the best offer they’ve got. That means no special subscription treatment for them, and the highest possible offer outcome for you.
Ready to check out the best place to get the best price for your Tesla? Take Find My Electric’s Instant Cash Offer for a test drive today.