How Important is Mileage When Buying a Used Car?

Posted Friday, Oct 08, 2021

It used to be if you were driving a used car with high mileage (more than 100,000 miles), you were probably driving a Honda or something similar. Otherwise, the vehicle was probably on its last leg.

That is no longer the case as cars are built with much better quality and design in mind. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see cars with 200,000 or more miles – and still running well.

On average, a person drives a vehicle around 13,500 miles per year (yes, usually it’s 12,000 but reports are also showing 15,000 so we’re splitting the difference). That means it will take just under 7.5 years to reach 100,000 miles. That was the average lifespan of a car in 1984.

Since now cars are faring much better than in years past. For example, a vehicle with 200,000 miles is likely to have lasted about 15 years, and still going strong!

That’s why many used vehicles are now sold with more than 150,000 miles on them. When purchasing a used car with high mileage there are many things to consider.

Why is Mileage Important When Buying a Used Car?

One of the main things to think about is why the mileage is either high or low on the car in accordance with the age. A 10-year-old car with higher mileage may sell at a higher price than a 7-year-old car with higher mileage.

If there is less mileage on a car that can mean someone hasn’t cared for the car as long so there isn’t much history (if any) on maintenance. Whereas more mileage can mean it’s been a well-enough maintained car that it’s still running.

So, let’s say you’re considering a car that’s 8-years-old and the mileage is 154,000. Going by (average) the average industry standard of 13,500 miles per year, the mileage should be about 108,000. So, this car would have high mileage.

Since vehicles are made to last longer, high mileage doesn’t mean it’s a bad vehicle. Cars with high mileage tend to be well-lubricated and burn carbon buildup. That can often indicate the engine will have a longer life. Considering mileage and age, both influence the price of a used car.

On the flip side, low mileage on a used vehicle can mean it’s been sitting for a long time. Cars are made to drive, not sit. It’s important to drive it at least every couple of weeks to save battery life, keep tires from drying and cracking, and to keep the fluids in the engine running.

When it comes to health of the vehicle, mileage impacts engine and suspension and age affects rubber, dry rot, dried out seals, and the battery. It all depends on how well the vehicle has been maintained. That’s why it’s important to find out as much as you can about how the vehicle was driven.

Town, country, and city miles are often filled with stop and go traffic, uneven and cracked pavement, and potholes. Whereas, driving on the highway and freeway is more fluid as traffic can flow for miles at a cruise-control consistent rate of speed.

Highways and freeways are often maintained better as well so wear and tear are less of an impact on mileage.

Consider the Following

  • How many owners has the vehicle had? If there have been a lot, chances are at least one of them didn’t maintain it well.
  • Always get a Vehicle History Report. This report gives you valuable information about maintenance, claims, and damages among other things.
  • Make sure what you hear about the vehicle matches what you know about the vehicle. – Were you given a story that a little old lady that drove that old Lincoln to church on Sundays for the past 10 years car only has 10,000 miles on it? It could be true if Vehicle History Report matches up. But if the mileage doesn’t add up to what you were told, it’s better to do the digging now.
  • Get the vehicle inspected by your trusted mechanic. At CityWide, our vehicles come with a complete bumper to bumper inspection.

Calculating Time

When you are searching for a used car, you will naturally look at the mileage and usually think that’s high, low, or just right. However, another way to think about the mileage is to think about how much mileage you’ll still get rather than what it’s already got.

For argument’s sake we’ll use the average of 13,500 miles per year. If you are looking at a car that already has 100,000 miles on it there’s a good chance it will last another 100,000. That means your new-to-you car could be with you for at least another 8 or so years.

Take for example our 2011 Subaru Forester. This vehicle has 110,592 miles on it. If taken care of this car may have another 90,000 miles or so left.

In other words: You could drive it for another 6-7 or so years out of it using the 13,500 average miles per year.

Inventory of Used Cars

At City Wide Motors, our used cars inventory is searchable by the standard features like year, make and model. But we also have options to search for mileage.

Our highest mileage car is a 2014 Kia Optima with 161,391 miles which translates to an average of 23,055 per year – higher than average mileage for a 7-year-old car.

Research shows that this car typically lasts at least 200,000 miles. With roughly 40,000 miles (at least) left, you can drive this vehicle another 3-4 years. Which makes this the perfect option for our lease here pay here program!

Keep this in mind the next time you go car shopping and look at mileage from a different angle. Think about how many years you’ll potentially get out of the car. It may help you decide on used vehicle finance options and give you peace of mind when comparing vehicles.

As always at CityWide, our cars are carefully screened and maintained for optimum performance. We take care of all the details you’d expect from an auto buy here pay here dealership and then some. Our simple goal is to accelerate your future and help you