What’s Good Mileage for a Used Car? Tips for Buying Used Cars

July 19th, 2020 by

Buying a used car can be a good opportunity to save money. Many cars are sold “gently used,” meaning they aren’t very old and have been well-maintained. This affords the buyer an opportunity to buy a like-new car at a lower price.

Additionally, you can learn the history of a used car by checking its mileage. This can tell you how the car was used and its likely quality.

Follow this guide to learn what a car’s mileage can tell you and why you should pay attention to it.   

Why Car Mileage Is Important

odometer on a car

Image via Pixabay by heartynutrition

There are many factors to take into consideration when buying a used car. The first is its history. If the car has sustained damage from an event such as an accident, then it is important to know how that damage has been repaired and if it impacted the value of the vehicle. A car’s mileage, similarly, is part of its history and gives the buyer a better idea of how much a car has been used.

For example, most new cars driven off the lot have fewer than 100 miles on them. In most cases, a car with such few miles will be in perfect condition.

The average car lifespan is around 200,000 miles. By this time, even well-maintained cars start to have problems and need new engines, clutches, and other changes. Unfortunately, the cost of these repairs can exceed the value of your car. For example, if your car is 15 years old and only worth about $500, then it is not worth $800 in repairs. This is when most car owners trade in their old cars for newer models. 

With this information, a buyer can understand where a car is in its lifespan through its mileage. It’s such an important piece of information that tampering with an odometer (which tracks vehicle mileage) is considered a felony because it misleads buyers. Someone might think a car is in good condition with low mileage when it actually has been worn down more than they realize. This is considered fraud because the product is misleading in order to profit.  

With this in mind, you can see how mileage is important when shopping for a used car. You can have two cars of the same make, model, and year, but their values might be significantly different depending on their mileage.

What Is Considered Good Mileage for a Used Car?

To understand how many miles on a used car is too much, you have to look at driving behavior. As a general rule, the average miles driven per year is around 12,000 – 15,000 for most drivers. With this information, you can multiply 12,000 by the age of the car to understand how many miles on average it should have. 

For example, within a decade, a car should hit the 120,000-mile mark and is likely to be retired (past 200,000 miles) within 15 years. Knowing this can give you a standard estimate for how many miles a used car should have when you look at it.

Car mileage is highly individualized and based on driving behavior. For example, someone who works for a rideshare company and spends eight hours each day on the road (especially on highways) can easily drive 12,000 miles in a few months, much less a year. However, another person who works from home and lives in a city where many restaurants and stores are within walking distance might drive less than 4,000 miles per year. 

Try to Learn the History That Comes With the Car 

Mileage is an objective source of information concerning the wear and tear of a car. However, it is still beneficial to understand a car’s complete history to get an idea of its condition. A few things to consider include the following:

A car might have low mileage, but if it sat unused for several months, then it might have other problems due to a combination of age and a lack of maintenance. Similarly, a high-mileage car that is cared for may be in better condition that is actually safer on the road. 

If possible, try to get the context that comes with buying a used car. Used car dealerships will always take care of routine maintenance and bring the car up to like-new condition, but any information on the previous owner may be helpful. 

Consider Price Versus Car Longevity

Looking at mileage is a great way to estimate how long you can reasonably expect to drive a used car. While you may save money in the short run by buying a car with high mileage, you may have to pay for repairs within a few years or get a different car entirely. 

Buying a car with only 50,000 miles may be more expensive than one with 150,000, but you can likely drive it for a longer period of time. You can also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with owning a relatively new car, knowing that you don’t have to worry about the car’s age and any upcoming repairs that come with it. 

Most used car buyers try to strike a balance between price and mileage so they can stay within their budgets but also find a quality, reliable used vehicle that meets their needs. 

Buy From a Reputable Used Car Dealer

While buying a used car may be a more affordable option, it is often considered riskier. You have to trust the organization who you are buying from to make sure the vehicle is in good condition, doesn’t have a hidden history of damage, and hasn’t been tampered with. 

At #1 Cochran, we have a large used car selection and are always clear about the mileage on and condition of our cars. You can trust that these vehicles have been well cared for and meet your expected road standards. Check out our selection of used vehicles and compare our prices to others on the market. You can also look for certified pre-owned vehicles for an additional safety guarantee.  

Posted in Used