So you’ve decided to purchase a used car instead of a brand new one.
Not a bad decision.
However, you do need to consider a lot of things — one of those being car mileage.
What is good mileage for a used car?
Well, we’re going to answer that question and more for you here. This way, you’ll know if the deal you’re getting is a good one.
Shall we begin?
What is a Car Mileage?
For those of you that aren’t car-savvy, you might not know what car mileage even is. This is why we’ll give you a brief explanation.
Simply put, car mileage is the unit used to measure the total distance a car has traveled since the time it was purchased. It’s used to determine the value at which your car can be resold, as well as its depreciation, condition, and potential risks – among others.
Why Is Car Mileage Important?
Car mileage plays a huge role in determining a car’s reselling price. Mileage can give you a pretty good idea of the current condition a vehicle’s components are in.
For example, wear and tear are often more evident in cars with higher mileage. So, the lower the mileage, the more value the car retains.
Now, there will be a few cases where mileage might not be the most accurate reference to determine a vehicle’s condition. Getting a certified and reliable mechanic to assess the vehicle can save you from buying a vehicle at a much higher price than it should be.
What is Good Mileage for a Used Car?
Okay, now let’s get to the main question.
What is good mileage for a used car?
According to the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the average person drives around 14, 263 miles per year. That’s around 1,200 miles per month and about 39 miles per day.
Considering those numbers, we can say that a good mileage on a 4-year-old car is around 57,000 to 60,000 miles.
It’s worth noting that this average will vary between drivers. Those who use their cars often for long-distance journeys might rack up more miles more quickly.
So you need to know how to calculate to know if it is good mileage.
How to Calculate Car Mileage
Calculating car mileage is simple.
You take the average miles you travel each year and multiply that by the time that’s passed between now and the time the car was brought home from the dealership.
So for example, if a car has traveled an average of 12,000 miles per year and is about 5 years old by the time you buy it, then a good mileage would be around 50,000 miles.
Picking up on the same example. If the average miles per year is 12,000 and the car is 5 years old, anything way above 50,000 miles is not a good mileage number.
Should You Rely on Mileage When Buying a Used Car?
While mileage can certainly help determine a car’s value and condition, it shouldn’t be the only factor that you consider. The best way to ensure you drive home a good used car is to choose one that’s been properly maintained by its previous owners.
To see if the car you’ve been eyeing has been well-taken care of over the past years, you can check the following documents:
- Car accident reports
- Service or repair records
- Maintenance records
- Number of previous owners
- Title history
If these documents show that the vehicle has received all the recommended maintenance and repairs it needs, then it’s more likely to last you a long time, regardless of its mileage.
Should You Buy a Car With High Mileage?
The great thing about cars nowadays is that they’re made to last much longer than the cars existing over 15 years ago. In fact, according to surveys, the average car in the US is about 11 to 12 years old with mileage averages of around 132,000 to 144,000 miles.
Generally, buying a car with a high mileage shouldn’t pose any problem. In fact, it can save you thousands of dollars. A more important thing to look at when buying a used car is the number of previous owners it’s had.
If a car has had one or two owners before you and has around 100,000 miles on its odometer, chances are the vehicle is still in peak running condition and will last you a long while.
However, if the car you’re eyeing has had three to four owners before you with high mileage, it might be wise to look somewhere else.
Beware of Odometer Fraud
The odometer is the tool used to measure a car’s mileage. In some cases, shady sellers may tamper with the vehicle odometer to make it seem like the vehicle has traveled fewer miles than it actually has. This is often referred to as “busting miles” or “clocking.”
While there’s no single way to identify when an odometer has been tampered with, you can still avoid fraud by hiring a professional mechanic to check the vehicle for you.
Be wary of scratch marks or fingerprints on the odometer, as this may mean the previous owner has done something to alter the settings. On top of that, keep an eye out for misalignment in the odometer display.
Misalignment could mean an error in the reinstallation of the odometer OR it could also mean the system had been altered by the seller.
So what is good mileage for a used car?
Well, you will have to make the calculation yourself.
That said, a car’s mileage is not the most important thing to look out for. A car can still be in peak condition even with high mileage.
Some more important factors to consider are the number of previous owners the vehicle has had and the condition in which it runs in.
Make sure to examine maintenance and repair records to see if the vehicle you want to buy has had proper care and attendance.
Additionally, beware of units that have noticeably been tampered with. To avoid fraud, bring a trusted mechanic when buying a used car and ask them to examine the vehicle before you finalize your purchase.