How Many Miles on a Used Car is Too Much?
Buying a used or pre-owned car requires a few trade-offs. Buyers on a budget might need to sacrifice mileage, age or the vehicle’s condition if they want or need a more affordable vehicle. Each of these factors impacts the price of a vehicle; however, the make/model also influences price.
When buyers have a particular make/model in mind, and they need the most affordable option, they might start focusing on higher-mileage vehicles. Some buyers want a newer car, and they want the car to be in great condition. How many miles on a used car is too much, though?
There isn’t a simple answer. Here’s why.
Driving Habits Affect What Might Be Acceptable on an Odometer
Buyers all have different driving habits. The new car might not be used as a commuter vehicle. Instead, the vehicle might simply be a secondary vehicle for a newer driver. Perhaps the vehicle will be used for weekly errands.
If buyers aren’t planning to drive the vehicle often or rack up lots of miles each week or month, the number on the odometer might matter less. However, those who need the car for a long commute might not get much use out of a higher mileage vehicle.
How Many Miles is ‘High-Mileage?’
Buyers might wonder how many miles are necessary for the vehicle to be considered as having high mileage. Some drivers feel that if the odometer hits 100,000 miles, it has high mileage. A six figure odometer reading could be the best definition of a high-mileage vehicle.
Some drivers, though, might consider 50,000 miles a lot. If they commute 60+ miles per day, they will accrue 300 miles per week or 1,200 miles a month. This wouldn’t include the miles driven during the weekend.
Long commutes could take a moderate mileage to a high mileage quickly. This is why buyers need to consider their buying habits before settling on a high-mileage vehicle.
How far a car is driven per year, though, also can affect whether or not the vehicle has high mileage. Sometimes it’s not just about the odometer reading but how that reading breaks down when accounting for the vehicle’s age.
Most individuals drive about 12,000 to 15,000 miles each year. A car that is five years old and has 50,000 miles isn’t a high-mileage vehicle. However, a vehicle that is five years old and has 100,000 miles would be considered high-mileage. In contrast, a 10-year-old vehicle with 100,000 miles on the odometer has been driven less than average.
Driven habits matter when buyers are reviewing the odometer. Buyers should consider how far they will drive the vehicle per month, but they also need to consider how far previous owners drove that car and how those miles break down per year.
What Is So Worrisome About High-Mileage Vehicles?
Most modern cars can be driven about 200,000 miles before they hit the end of their life. The mileage on the odometer is important for several reasons. The more a car is driven, the more wear and tear it accrues.
If the previous owner drove their vehicle for their job—maybe they were a delivery driver or drove for a rideshare company—then the car was subjected to a lot of wear. Once cars hit mileage milestones, they will often have specific service needs.
The more wear and tear on a vehicle, the greater the chance that something might break down on the vehicle. Some vehicles have certain weak points that are prone to break down or that need to be replaced. However, there are other vehicles that can hit 200,000 miles without any issues (beyond basic upkeep).
Buyers who are willing to purchase a newer model vehicle with 100,000 on the odometer might want to research reviews from current owners of that particular model. If a vehicle is prone to expensive repairs, buyers might move on to another option.
Not all high-mileage vehicles are deal-breakers, but some could turn out to be a money pit for buyers.
Cash Buyers Might Buy What’s Affordable
Those who need financing for a used car could be at the mercy of a lender related to the models that can be financed. Some lenders have stipulations related to age or mileage criteria. Lenders could refuse to finance a car that is too old or that has too many miles on the odometer.
Cash buyers, though, might simply be looking for a vehicle that they can purchase out of pocket. Some buyers just need a vehicle for commuting, and they might be prepared that a high-mileage vehicle isn’t going to last too long.
Some buyers could have been in a car accident and received a settlement for a totaled vehicle. Instead of using that cash for a down payment, they might decide that the settlement for the car is their budget. This could be true of buyers whose totaled car was already paid in full; they simply might not want to take on a car payment. Perhaps they cannot afford a monthly payment obligation.
Mileage and Electric Vehicles
Buyers who are looking at an older electric vehicle might pay close attention to the mileage on the odometer. While current electric models now offer extended battery warranties—Toyota offers a 10-year, 150,000 mile warranty (whatever comes first)—this isn’t the case for older vehicles.
Replacing a battery pack for an electric car is an expensive repair. In fact, it might not be worth the price. Before purchasing an electric vehicle, buyers should research the warranty on the make/model. Remember that the warranty will expire either at a specific year milestone or a mileage marker—the expiration depends on whichever comes first.
Even if the vehicle has fewer miles than the warranty stipulates, the model could have still aged out of the warranty. Buyers also can ask the dealership about any warranties and to make sure the battery warranty is transferable.
Use Carzing to Find the Best Used Cars
Buyers can use Carzing to find the best options for used cars. Search vehicles by make/model, price or body type. Carzing will display all the results available at nearby dealerships.
Buyers can choose to only view used models. They also can select any features that they need or want in their vehicle. Buyers also can set a specific budget to ensure that models fit their price specifications. When mileage also is a factor, buyers can elect to sort their options from those with the lowest mileage to the highest (or vice versa).
Carzing also lets buyers get pre-qualified for financing. Carzing will prompt buyers to enter information related to their work history and housing costs (mortgage or rent). Carzing will display all the financing options for which buyers might qualify; Carzing also will help buyers understand any down payment obligations.
When buyers find the loan with the best terms or interest rates, they can then print out a voucher with the loan details to take to a participating dealership. However, buyers will still need to complete a credit application at the dealership to get approved for financing.
With Carzing, the search for a used car can be done from the comfort of home. Buyers can find the best car for their needs and their budget and can even find financing options, too. Carzing empowers buyers by simplifying the search and minimizing the time at the dealership.