One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to defining whether a used car is worth buying or not is: what is too high mileage for a used car? Though it would be very simple to give a figure here, the answer is much more complex and it raises more problems than inexperienced car buyers would think.
In what follows, we would like to extend the range of categories to be considered when buying a second hand car to care, maintenance and driving style, so that you can see beyond figures displayed on dashboards and details mentioned in ownership titles and make a more educated decision.
The Correlation between Age and Mileage
Cars in the US run around 15,000 miles a year on average. However, the variations you can encounter on the second hand car market are huge. You can find three year old vehicles with 100,000 miles already covered and you can just as well find 8-10 year old vehicles with only a couple of thousands of miles in their engines.
Consequently, age doesn’t necessarily translate into too high mileage for a used car. In other words, you cannot say that an old car is necessarily an overused car or a young second hand car must be in good condition because it couldn’t have possibly run a lot.
Other Aspects to Consider
mileageThere are two other aspects that are maybe more conclusive than defining what a too high mileage for a used car really adds up to: when trying to determine the condition and the reliability of a vehicle, the driving style of the previous owner and the maintenance performed are what actually count.
Driving style is important because an inexperienced driver who abuses the car or an aggressive driving style can expose the car’s engine and other assemblies to extensive wear and tear. The best examples are cars equipped with manual gears. If the gears are not changed at the rotation they need to be changed, the engine and the steering gear will equally suffer, causing them to break down before time.
Inexperienced or negligent drivers can also cause extreme damage even to young cars. Not using the type of lubrifier recommended for the vehicle or neglecting regular maintenance can sometimes cause more severe damage than a hundred thousand of extra miles. So, even if the odometer shows only 20,000 miles, for example, the car may be in an incredibly bad condition.
It is practically impossible to define the too high mileage for a used car because the vehicle’s technical condition depends almost entirely on how it is handled. If you have an old car, with a lot of miles in it, but you know how to drive it and you take care of its proper maintenance, it is possible to preserve the vehicle in excellent technical condition for a very long time. You can keep the engine clean, the steering rack reliable, the direction and the suspension system working properly, while also putting tens of thousands of miles into your car each year.
The best way to determine whether a vehicle is worth buying or not is, consequently, not only by looking at the odometer and contemplating what is too high mileage for a used car or checking its age in the vehicle’s documents, but by taking it for a test drive and by having an experienced independent mechanic lift it and perform a thorough inspection of it.
Taking the vehicle for a half-hour ride can help you see if you like the feel of driving it and having a mechanic check it in a garage will make sure the car has no hidden flaws that can come out later on. As we said, there is no such thing as too high mileage for a used car – all that matters is the love and care it has received from its previous owner.