Vehicles with high mileage will often be cheaper to buy used but may come with problems…
If you're in the market for a used car, there are many factors to consider. This is why so many people struggle when deciding to buy new or used. A pre-owned car could have a lot of issues, and not all of them will be easy to spot. However, unless you are dealing with a charlatan, a vehicle's mileage should be disclosed and easily verifiable. But how many miles are good for a used car? Is 12,000 miles too many? Or, what about 60,000 miles? This guide is here to help you determine how many miles a used car should have to be considered a good deal for the price.
Naturally, vehicles with high mileage may be more prone to problems than those with lower mileage, and maintenance and upkeep costs increase over time. The last thing you want is to purchase a car with high mileage that has a run-down engine and a shoddy suspension. But if you are after something truly cheap, you might not find a car with low mileage and a price you like. That's not to say that you can't find a used car with reasonable mileage and which is in good condition. If it had one previous owner, or two, and they followed a proper maintenance schedule, it could still be an excellent deal, even if it is long past the manufacturer's warranty period.
So, then what is good mileage for a used car? Well, the average person drives around 12,000 miles per year, so you could simply multiply that figure by the age of the car. Thus, 5 years of driving should be around 60,000 miles, and this is where most people will be trading in for a new car. A longer period of ownership of 10 years should therefore exceed 100,000 miles. But, if you check the odometer, and the reading is much higher than this calculation, you know the car was driven hard and will likely be a little worse for wear. The best mileage to buy a used car will be at or under the average miles per year gradient. Naturally, buying a car with high mileage carries some risks, and although there are always exceptions to the rule, high-mileage cars should be very carefully considered before purchase.
Cars for sale with high mileage could potentially have more issues than those without. In any case, you should consult a car buying guide before you make a final decision. This will help you know what to look out for to make sure you don't end up with a real lemon. Here is a quick checklist of things to look at when perusing used cars for sale:
No matter how well a car is maintained or how carefully it is driven, things break. Wear and tear are not things that can be avoided, only managed. So what do the miles mean on a car in the long run? Well, eventually, parts will need to be replaced. Having a proper history of this is also important when reviewing a used car for purchase, as it will let you know how soon extra expenses will come up in your period of ownership. As a general rule of thumb, these are the components that most often need replacing and how many miles each is good for:
The exact cost of each will depend on the make and model of the car, so buying something like a used BMW 3 Series could end up costing you a lot more if many of these components are on the brink of failure.
Naturally, more wear and tear is a bad thing, but an older car will always be cheaper than a newer one. Thus, you need to balance age, mileage, and condition with price. The best value for your money will likely be in the four to five-year period. So, you just have to multiply that by the average miles per year, which is 12,000. This means that around 48,000 to 60,000 miles will likely be the sweet spot, so long as they match the age of the car.
Not necessarily. Cars can stay in good condition for up to seven to ten years, especially with strict preventative maintenance and regular servicing, which means that 120,000 miles is conceivable on a good used car. However, if those 80,000 miles were accrued in less than five or six years, there is good chance the car was driven pretty hard and it may have suffered more wear and tear than usual.
A good rule of thumb is to try to avoid any car that may have more than 12,000 - 14,000 miles per year of ownership, as this usually means there has been excessive driving per year. Combined with the rising reliability of modern cars, this means that 100,000 to 200,000 miles is still within the realm of reason. Some of the best used cars under $5,000 will probably fall into this category, such as a Honda Fit, Toyota Avalon, or Mazda 3 with about 10 years of driving. However, 200,000 miles or more is definitely pushing the limits.
Naturally, the older a car is, the more its value will have depreciated. This means it will be cheaper to buy. However, more mileage on the odometer is also going to play a role at the negotiation table. Which will play a bigger role in determining the final price will likely differ from model to model. What is probably more important is that the mileage compares favorably with the age. This means around 12,000 miles per year of ownership. If a used car is only three years old but has 100,000 miles, then you should probably be concerned.