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September 30, 2021
Wow, I can’t believe the day has finally arrived. I have a Tesla!! Ever since I heard about the potential existence (and price!) of the Tesla Model 3 several years ago, it has been my dream to own a Tesla. To be completely honest, I don’t think I ever fully believed I could actually do it. It still doesn’t feel real. But last week, my dream car was delivered and it’s all mine! (And the bank’s – ha!)
The process of ordering a Tesla is very different from what I’m used to. In the past, I’ve always leased. I would go into the dealership, pick a car, discuss the finances, sign papers, and drive home in “my” new ride. This time around, I did everything online; I was able to pick exactly how I wanted my new car to look and placed my order as easily as if I was ordering something off Amazon. Minus the two-day shipping of course!
I first decided to actually bite the bullet and place my order after borrowing my brother’s Model 3 for the day. Tesla is so backed up that I actually never even got to test drive a Model Y before I ordered mine, but I knew the experience would be very similar to the Model 3. For the next couple weeks, I scoured the internet and watched probably every Model Y video on YouTube. I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision since I knew I wouldn’t be able to see one in person before ordering. My only regret is not pulling the trigger earlier! From order date to delivery date, the wait time was over three months.
To place your order with Tesla, all you have to do is go to Tesla.com and build your car. It is nearly impossible to find an inventory car, plus with building your own, you get exactly what you want. I went with a Model Y Long Range white exterior, black interior 5-seater with upgraded black wheels. All I paid at the time of my order was a $100 order fee which was put towards the purchase price. This is why there’s really not much of a reason to hold off on ordering if you’re serious about it. Taking a $100 loss isn’t the end of the world if something crazy happens – and the sooner you order, the further along in line you’ll be. In fact, I’ve even heard about people who did change their mind or circumstances and they still went along with the order, only to sell it and make a profit – that’s how in-demand Teslas and cars in general are right now.
The waiting period is definitely the most agonizing part of the experience. Overall, I would say my experience ordering with Tesla, specifically during that waiting time, was pretty poor. The website gives you an estimated delivery date range that changes almost every day. It’s like a roller coaster ride and every time you think you’re about to get lucky, you get slapped back into reality. Each person that places an order with Tesla is given an advisor, who does absolutely nothing to help at all. In fact, my advisor rarely responded to me anytime I reached out. I got much quicker and friendlier help from using the chat feature on Tesla.com. My advisor could not be bothered to do his job, which I guess is the downside of Tesla’s sales model which does not include commission at all. If the estimated delivery date was not all over the place and completely inaccurate the vast majority of the time, I think the entire experience would have been much more pleasant. Following along on the forums at teslamotorsclub.com helped tremendously as it gave me an idea of what to expect, which is my goal of this post!
Due to the long wait, my approved financing with Tesla actually expired, but it refreshed itself all on its own. I think my credit was pulled twice, but it really didn’t make a huge impact or change the terms or anything like that. One thing I did read many people do is when they place their order, they put it as a cash purchase. Then, when you get your VIN and an actual delivery date, you switch it to financing so that your credit is only pulled once. I did not do that and everything was fine, but if I had read that prior to ordering, that’s what I would have done.
Now to delivery. During my extensive three-month wait, I did a ton of research, read countless forums, and thoroughly prepared myself for “delivery” aka pick up. I got my VIN about three weeks prior to delivery. Then I was able to upload my insurance, which is required to take delivery. 24 hours before delivery I reviewed the final agreement and all was set for finally receiving my Tesla Model Y.
And everything went pretty smoothly! My appointment lasted about two hours total. They were a bit backed up, so about half of that time was spent waiting between the various steps. First, we were greeted at the door where they asked my name. They found my paperwork immediately and I was asked to wait. A few minutes later, another employee unlocked my car for me and told me I could go out and inspect it. I did have a short checklist that I went through:
Paint: any paint chipping, discoloration, exterior damage, etc. – check for “rail rust,” which is little orange specs on the car
Panel gaps: check for symmetry of panel gaps, including gaps of the headlights and tail lights that they aren’t sticking out or sunken too much
Lights: turn on all the lights and make sure they work properly (emergency button is overhead by the overhead lights)
Wheels/tires: check for damage and curb rash
Seats and trim: no rips, stains, apparent damage, misalignment to the naked eye
Check the odometer and make sure it matches the paperwork and app
Check to make sure the trunk contains your MC and j1772 connector
Check for headliner tightness around the glass roof
Check the USB outlets and the wireless charging pad for functionality
Turn on the radio and do a test call
I found a few small items that I wanted them to check on and they did happily. Next, I went inside where I waited again. Then it was time to sign a few papers for the sale, license plate, etc. This is also when I paid my final balance due. All I had to do was put my bank login and it was automatically paid on the spot. I purposely waited for this step until I saw the car in person and knew everything was good to go. I actually did 0 down and still ended up owing just under $4k in taxes and fees.
Finally, I went back out to the car for one final walkthrough, scheduled my appointment to fix the things I was concerned about, and connect my car to the app so I could use my phone as my key. And that’s it! The appointment definitely lasted longer than I had hoped, however, it was a pretty good experience overall. Everyone was really nice and the process was very easy. I will say, it definitely would have been nice to have someone go over the features with me. Or at least how to charge it. This car is like a computer on wheels and there is a ton I haven’t discovered yet. But oh well, it will be fun to come across new features every time I drive it. And let me tell you: driving it is amazing. It’s impossible to not be happy and just constantly smile when you’re behind the wheel of a Tesla. I am so incredibly glad I got this car and it was so worth the wait!
Would you consider going through the process of buying a Tesla?
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Photos by Ryan Carpenter.