Used Car Mileage: 5 Things to Know While You Shop

Used Car Mileage: 5 Things to Know While You Shop

Across the United States, Americans bought 41 million used cars in 2016. We cannot overstate quite how huge the used car market is. Yet sometimes, when you’re trying to buy a car, it can seem like forever until you find that perfect automobile.

One factor that might put you off is used car mileage. How many miles should a used car have? How much mileage is too much?

The last thing that anyone wants is to buy a car that’s been driven into the ground. Yet, could you be basing your figure on arbitrary judgments rather than facts? 

We know how difficult it can be to figure out whether that used car is a beater or whether it’ll last you years. We want to give you the very best service that we can, which means giving you all the information you could want.

We’re going to answer all those questions about used car mileage that maybe you’ve been too afraid to ask.

Used Car Mileage: General Tips

The world of used car mileage can produce more questions than answers at times. In this section, we’ll take a look at some general tips to help you decipher this mystery.

The Average Miles Driven Per Year

On average, American drivers use their cars to travel 13,476 miles per year. Men tend to drive longer distances than women, and the 35-54 years old age group racks up the most miles.

If you’re looking at a car that is around five years old, you should expect it to have somewhere around 67,000 miles on the clock.

Exceptions to the Rule

If the used car mileage is higher than that, this isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Some classes of drivers will drive their vehicles much longer distances but take good care of the cars.

Commuters, for example, could rack up 25,000 miles in a single year. These are likely highway miles and the cars are usually well-maintained. Other drivers who use their cars for their work, such as traveling salespeople or realtors, will also rack up more miles.

When a car is being used every day for work, it’s usually well taken care of. If you see a newer car with high mileage in the lot, don’t discount it. Check its maintenance records and see how the last driver cared for it.

Former rental cars are another use case that usually has high mileage but good maintenance. Once again, check the records.

The Best Used Car Mileage Scenario

The best use case is cars that were owned by one driver for many years and barely driven, maybe around 3,000 miles per year. If you see one of these, snap it up.

How Much Mileage Is Too Much?

When should you look at a used car’s mileage with a more critical eye? We’ve shown you that high mileage isn’t necessarily bad. The real problems rear their heads when the car has been passed from owner to owner.

If you find a car that’s around 10 years old and has had three or four previous owners, you’re looking at one that is more likely to give you problems. Multiple drivers mean that vital work may not have been carried out. It also means that it may have been sold on, rather than repaired.

It can be difficult to find repair records for these cars too. If you can’t see what work has been done, you should think about whether this car is for you.

There is no hard and fast rule for how much mileage is too much. If the car has been driven hard but has a new engine, for instance, it could be as good as new. 

The best way to discover if the car has too much mileage on the clock for you is to take it for a test drive. See how it handles and if everything functions as it should. If there are any nagging issues, investigate them further, and find out how much repairs would cost.

Take a look under the hood, investigate repair records, and see whether you think it’s worth it. 

Does Mileage Matter More Than Age?

Used car mileage is a thorny subject, but one particularly common question is whether mileage matters more than age. Both of these factors affect the value of a used car, but which is more important?

Is it better to buy a newer car with higher mileage or an older car with lower mileage? These both have pros and cons: let’s take a look at them.

New Car, High Mileage

The good news is that high mileage isn’t likely to affect a newer car that badly. Newer cars can run for a long time before they give up the ghost. However, this does still depend on whether regular maintenance has been carried out.

Look at records and consider investing in a report from a third-party company. 

Another plus point in favor of a newer car with higher mileage is that it is likely to have all the tech you could want. This includes things like lane assist and adaptive cruise control, depending on the model.

Old Car, Low Mileage

The problem with buying an older car is that once the car ages past a certain point, it begins to be affected by more passive issues, like rust and seal corrosion. You should be a lot more wary of mechanical issues that could be caused by these and potentially get the okay from a mechanic before you buy it.

Research the model carefully and check if it has had any necessary recalls, etc., too.

Buying a Used Car

However important used car mileage is to you, we have used cars for sale that can make you a very happy customer. Take a look at our inventory and see what draws your eye!

If you’ve got any questions for us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Over 350+ Cars, Trucks, and SUVs.

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