Used Cars for Sale: Does Mileage Matter?

Used Cars for Sale: Does Mileage Matter?

Posted on Thursday, November 3, 2016

When shopping used cars for sale, how much do the miles matter?

When looking at used cars for sale, one of the big questions is whether mileage matters. As a rule, a car that’s seen less time on the road will fetch a higher price than one that’s put a lot of asphalt behind it. But does mileage really matter? And when is it most important?

Mileage Changes With Age

First of all, what dealers and auto experts define as “high mileage” changes the older the car gets. If two cars both have 150,000 miles on them, but one is ten years old and the other is five, the decade-old car will be considered lower mileage than the five-year-old one. That’s because it’s not just total miles that matter, but how quickly those miles are racked up. Both cars will likely have factors you need to consider, but remember that age matters with miles driven.

What’s The History?

Another question to ask is just how those miles were racked up. After all, if somebody drove a car 100,000 miles in two years, felt the brakes start to go, and dumped it in a barn for eight years, that’s a far different story than a car that was driven roughly 10,000 miles a year for a decade. Did it sit outside? Inside? Was it only recently fixed up to get it out of somebody’s backyard? These are questions worth asking, even if the dealer may not know. The more knowledge you can get, the better.

Also worth looking up is the accident history and other details. Auto body shops are supposed to specialize in restoring all the features of a car, like bumpers and crumple zones, to their original function, but not every shop can do the job properly. And in some cases, like a car caught in a flood, it’s just not worth buying at all.

Was It Cared For?

The next question to look at is maintenance history. One of the more important points about mileage is that certain repairs and other landmarks usually are tied to a certain number of miles. The Toyota Camry, for example, needs its tires rotated every five thousand miles, the floor mats checked every 10,000 miles, and more or less a full repair checkup every 15,000 miles. If a car has managed to hit all those landmarks, that’s good news no matter how many miles it happens to have on the odometer, as it’s less likely to have long-term mechanical problems. If, however, it’s had a spotty repair history, then you’ll need to talk to the dealership about whether or not it’s been looked over since it arrived.

A used car can be a good deal, if you know the history.

Check It Out

The best thing to do with a used car that’s got a few miles on it is to ask the dealership if they’ve done a full mechanical inspection, and to inform them you’re not going to consider the car until you know it’s been done. In many cases, the dealership will have beaten you to it, especially with certified pre-owned vehicles. But if not, a full check-up, while not bulletproof, is the best way to ensure you’re buying a quality car. If you’re looking for the best used cars, subscribe to get alerts on vehicles in your area.