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How Many Miles Are Too Many While Buying A Used Car

Last modified: Sep 29, 2022

Mileage is a significant factor you should consider when buying a car. Getting swept away in other efficiency metrics is easy, but knowing good mileage for a used car is one factor you must not ignore. Depending on how high or how long the car's mileage is, its value can increase or decrease.  

The mileage is also a good way of knowing how much servicing the car will need once you've bought it. However, the valuation websites you may use to know used car mileage don't always provide adjusted prices for free. As a result, knowing the difference between good and bad mileage can be difficult. 

But we're here to put you out of your misery! So please read on as we break down every factor in detail to give you a holistic understanding of mileage and why it matters.  

Why Is Mileage Important? 

A car's mileage matters because the number of miles you see on the odometer is a smart way of determining the price of a used car. It tells you the amount of wear the car has sustained over the years; if a car has higher mileage, it will cost more than a car with low mileage. However, this isn't a rule set in stone.

Usually, cars with low mileage offer a better ride, and in many cases, the serviceability of the car's parts depends on its mileage. Another reason a car's mileage matters is because it tells you the condition of the suspension and the engine. After a few thousand miles, these parts need to be serviced heavily. 

Checking on the History and Maintenance Records

How Many Miles Should a Used Car Have?

Before you ask us, "How much mileage is good for a used car?" or "What is a good gas mileage for a used car?" You need to know there is no fixed number. However, an average car owner drives about 12,000 miles every year as a general rule. 

To determine if a car has average mileage according to its years of ownership, multiply its years of ownership by 12,000. Like this:

The number of years the owner has had the car x 12,000 miles = The car's mileage.

This means that a five-year-old car should have been driven for around 60,000 miles. However, if the actual number is significantly lower, you can know there's a problem. That said, this number can be misleading at times, so don’t solely rely on that.

One must consider the number of owners who have driven the car as well. For example, if you spot a 10-year-old car in your search and it has 90,000 miles, then this can be a good deal. However, if this car has only had four to five owners in a decade, then this can mean one of the owners didn't maintain the vehicle properly.

How Many Miles on a Used Car Is Too Little?

Knowing the answer to this question or how much mileage is good for a used car can be complex. There is no definite rule which dictates how many miles are too little.

Usually, if a used car has low mileage, it can be a good decision to get the car, even if the mileage seems unusually low. These signs can indicate that the car hasn't been driven a lot, but you'll also have to check if the odometer gives an accurate reading.

By going through the car's history report, you will know if the odometer gives an accurate reading. For instance, if the odometer reads that the car is three years old and has a reading of 36,000 miles, then there's a good chance the odometer is working fine.

The car's appearance can also be a good way of knowing if the odometer is working fine or not. A vehicle that hasn't been driven a lot will have very few dents and not much wear and tear. 

If you think the odometer gives an inaccurate reading, you should get the car inspected by a professional technician. While this can be an excellent rule to follow before purchasing any car, it’s essential when you're buying a car with low mileage. This is because if a car has been sitting idle for a long time, certain parts will need to be replaced or repaired.

A user car's mechanic or technician is typically going to have a checklist of what they particularly need to look at when they're evaluating a used car. These inspections will include an overview of the car's conditions, such as inspecting the finish, the body, the mirrors, and the glass.

Moreover, they're also going to evaluate the brakes, tires, and engine and go through the car's control system. Finally, they may also take the car on a test drive to check the overall performance. 

Most technicians will be able to tell you immediately if they think there's something wrong. However, if these issues are something you need to address right away, you shouldn't buy the car.  

What’s More Important: Age or Mileage?

If you're looking for a suitable vehicle, you may have come across some offers that don't make sense. For instance, you may see a 10-year-old car selling at a higher price than a seven-year-old car, even though the younger car has higher mileage. 

This may make you wonder why an older car has a higher price tag. Aren't these two supposed to go hand in hand? 

Well, not necessarily. A car's mileage and age both combine to have different impacts on the car's value. However, even though they both decide the value of the car, they aren't closely related. So what is good mileage on a used car?

Before you start searching for the perfect vehicle, it’s imperative to know how age and mileage differ from each other. A car with higher mileage may be costlier than a similar vehicle with lesser miles.

Buying Guide for Used Cars

Used Car Shopping Tips 

Build a List of the Cars You Want

You must always have a list of the used cars you're looking for. This will help you figure out what to look for when buying a used car from a dealership.

For instance, it's no secret that the Toyota RAV-4 and the Honda CR-V are great cars for second-hand use. That said, they may cost more than a Kia Sportage or a Ford Escape. 

So if you're trying to save money, consider more than one option. We suggest making a list of the three cars that meet all of your needs and budget.

However, if you're thinking of buying a car that is less than five years old, get a certified pre-owned (CPO) car. 

Look For Used Cars Within Your Vicinity

Several websites can help you look for used cars. Use them to find cars around you and use the relevant filters to minimize the options available. When you're looking for cars near you, going to see the car and meeting the dealer is convenient. 

Contact the Owner

Once you've found a car that you like, please don't rush to see it. Instead, call the owner and try to establish a relationship with them. Tell them what you're looking for and verify the information they've posted on their ad. 

Most importantly, whenever you're buying a car from an owner for second-hand use, ask them why they're selling the car and if it has any mechanical problems. If you're buying the car from a dealer, drop them a text or call them to ask if the car is still in their stock. 

Sometimes, sellers can mention erroneous details about the car in the ad they've listed. Calling them beforehand rids you of this potential problem.

How Much Negotiating Room Is There on a Used Car?

Knowing how to buy a used one from a private party also depends on your negotiation skills. While there isn't a set amount you can negotiate, it depends on your communication skills and car industry knowledge. People can often get good deals on cars that are hard to come by because they know what they're talking about. 

That said, there isn't a set number or a percentage that you can negotiate for. Every car is different, and every owner will react differently.

Is It Bad to Get a Car With High Mileage?

Are high mileage cars good or bad? If they're bad, then why are high mileage cars so expensive? Here's the answer:

Overall, a car that has been driven enough, has been maintained well, and has high mileage will be a reliable choice. Thanks to modern technology, lifespans have increased. At one point, 100,000 miles were considered to be a long life for a car. Today, the same distance can be covered in a car's mid-life. 

What Is Considered High Mileage for a Used Car? 

On the other hand, buying a car with high mileage is a different ball game altogether. High mileage depends on the car you're buying since each has a different standard. For example, an older car with 100,000 miles won't be considered in the high mileage category.

 However, if you talk about a car that is three years old and has been driven for the same number of miles, it can qualify for the high mileage category.

As we mentioned earlier, the average amount of miles a car can be driven for in a year is 12,000. So if anything goes above that, it can be considered high mileage. Another popular way people differentiate high mileage cars from low mileage cars is by the 100,000 number. 

Anything above it’s high; anything below it’s low. Any car you purchase above the 100,000 mark is considered a risky investment; however, this isn't always the case.

Should I Buy a Car With 150,000 Miles?  

If you're buying a used car in mint condition, you may think of the question, "Does mileage matter when buying a used car?" The answer to that is yes; it always does. However, some vehicles have been driven for immensely high mileage numbers— numbers that go above 100,000. 

In a case like this, all you need to know is that if a reliable car could survive till the 150,000-mile mark with little to no repairs, it can even survive 150,000 more miles. So if you add 12,000 miles to the car's life every year, you may be able to use it for another eight years.

However, in this case, it's also essential to consider the age of the car. For example, if the car is three years old, then it means that the owner was driving the car for 40,000 miles every year.  

Due to this car's strenuous life, its engine and other vital components might have sustained more damage than usual. With that said, it can be somewhat risky to buy a car that has been driven for more than 150,000 miles. 

Even if the car has been maintained well and has 100,000 miles left, it’s already past its peak performance years. Generally, cars can start experiencing problems after they've touched the 100,000-mile mark. 

In several other cases, they might not have a warranty from the manufacturer. This means you'll have to pay for the repairs out of your pocket if anything goes wrong. All in all, we wouldn't recommend buying a car with high mileage.

Is It Wise to Buy a Car With Low Mileage?

Low mileage cars tend to be higher in demand because they've been used for a lesser time. This means their components haven't been affected heavily by wear and tear, and features like the tires, brakes, and clutch can last longer once you own the car. The interior and paintwork are most likely going to be in good condition too. 

A car's parts usually have mileage and age limits, and they need to be changed whenever their life is up. So always make sure you're checking the service history to know which car part the owner has replaced and which part may need a replacement soon.

At What Mileage Should I Not Buy a Car? 

Some cars can have incredibly high or suspiciously low mileage. But at what mileage level should you completely abandon the decision of buying a car? Quite honestly, this depends on many factors but stick to the 12,000 miles/year formula if you're ever in doubt.

However, don't be afraid of cars that aren't in this range. In some cases, a used car may have been maintained well, and there will be several records to show that; you just have to make sure you check them.  

That said, mileage isn't the only factor that matters. A second-hand car's condition can tell you a lot about how well it has been used and how much longer it can last. To get a good idea of this, you should consider getting an independent inspection of the car.

Does It Matter How Old a Car Is if It Has Low Mileage?

Even if an old car has low mileage, older cars are more reliable. Unlike older cars that became less reliable with age, modern cars have become more reliable. A modern-old car may record a significant problem once every three years. At the same time, older-old cars may face significant issues once every 18 to 20 months.

What Kills Cars?

There are several ways a person can unintentionally shorten their car's life; listed below are some of them. 

Not Letting the Car Warm-Up

Several people make this mistake. We're talking about people not giving the car enough time to warm up once they've started it. Instead, people have a habit of jamming it into the first gear and driving off straight away.  

Regardless of the environment you're in, this can be hard for the engine, but it can be particularly bad in colder climates. This stresses the items under the hood.

Not Using the Right Engine Oil

Another mistake people make is that they use the wrong oil for their cars. The thickness of different oils affects your engine. Each car is designed to deal with oils of different viscosities. For this reason, you must use the oil recommended by the manufacturer. You can find this recommendation in the owner's manual of the car.

Shifting the Car Into the First Gear While It's Moving Backwards

Any time your vehicle goes from reverse to forward, it must make a complete stop. Once the car stops, you can put the car into first gear and only then make it move forward. 

Most of us are guilty of switching from forward to reverse without stopping the car completely. While you may not give this much thought, it hurts the car's engine and the gearbox. 

How Do You Secretly Disable a Car?

Remove the Leads  

Open the car's hood and remove the leads from plugs. The spark plugs on the engine ignite the fuel, which powers the engine and the car. Therefore removing these leads from the spark plug is going to disconnect the plug from the wire.

In this case, it's possible the engine won’t start.

Drain the Coolant

Find a way to empty the cylinder that stores the coolant. A simple way of doing this is to drain the tank by removing the cap. However, another way to do this is to stab something sharp into the radiator. The low level of coolant will cause the engine to overheat, which will eventually cause it to stall. 

How to Make Cars Last Longer

Can a Car Last for 20 Years? 

Well, the answer to this question depends on how well you take care of the car.  

By taking the car to regular service and replacing parts when their life is up, one can ensure it stays in top condition for a long time. Consider following these tips:

  • Regularly maintain your car 
  • Keep changing the filters and the fluids
  • Inspect the tires regularly
  • Use the fluids, parts, and gas
  • Ensure your car stays clean
  • Ensure your style of driving doesn't hurt the car  

In Conclusion

Overall, don't take your car's mileage for face value because no set number dictates good mileage for a used car. Instead, check into the car's history and know who has owned it and where it has been driven. If you're prepared to drive a used car, good maintenance and prompt repairs can ensure the car stays with you for a long time.  


How Can I Make My Car Last 500,000 Miles?

There are a couple of things you can do to make sure your car lasts 500,000 miles. This includes: 

All these steps will ensure you get the most out of your vehicle and it lasts longer. 

Can a Car Last 20 Years?

This answer depends on the car. Most modern cars are more durable. Therefore, the average lifespan of a new car can easily be 20 to 30 years; you just need to take care of it. 

How Can I Make My Car More Reliable?

To make sure your car lasts longer, you have to take care of it by taking it for regular maintenance. The most important maintenance tasks you should pay attention to are:

Additionally, if the car has sustained damage, take it to a technician ASAP.

How Can I Make My Car Last 200,000 Miles?

Your car can last 200,000 miles by following the same steps mentioned above for 500,000 miles. 

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