Have you ever wondered how much mileage is too much on a used car? Typically, people will say 100,000 Miles is the ideal cut-off point. However, that is not really the only thing you should consider. The smartest thing to do is consider the vehicle’s history report, service records, and the consistency in performance and quality of the model in question.
The 100,000-Mile Rule
The notion that a car will not last 100,000 miles started from a different era. At the time when, keeping your vehicle in good condition to reach the six-figure mileage gives you pride and bragging rights, but almost every used car with more than 100,000 miles on its clock would be considered way too unreliable.
Back in the day, used vehicles with more than 100,000 mileage were considered by many as too unreliable. And that is because older vehicles were usually unreliable when they reached triple-figure mileage. However, a lot has changed even before your parents drove their first car. More sophisticated components and fluids are now being used by manufacturers to ensure that their cars will last longer, and car owners are also less eager to trade up.
Is Iit Worth it to Buy High Mileage Cars?
Nowadays 100,000 miles is not really high anymore. Let’s check why:
- The average age of vehicles in the U.S. that is still on the road is 11.5 years old.
- The average vehicle is driven around 15,000 miles per year—it is considered to be the industry average.
In this case, your average car will have at least 172,500 miles. But this does not mean that the driver’s life is always in danger every time they turn the ignition on. As a matter of fact, a lot of drivers are upgrading to new cars at the slowest rate in years.
Things to do when looking for a High-Mileage Car
There are a lot of things to consider when looking for a high-mileage car. Although mileage is a big factor, it is still not the only thing that you should pay close attention to. Do not ignore every other problem the car has just because the odometer shows fewer mileage compared to its contemporaries. When shopping for used cars, do not just focus on how much mileage it has on it right now, but much mileage you will get out of it.
Here are a couple of things that you should do when shopping for a high-mileage vehicle:
- Do research for the most reliable models.
- Prioritize dealerships instead of a private seller.
- Check the vehicle’s history report because it provides details about the car’s ownership, title status, accident or collision history, mileage and more. All you need is the vehicle’s vehicle identification number or VIN to get started.
- Check the service history of the vehicle on CARFAX to see how well the vehicle has been maintained.
Whether you are in the market to look for your very first car or you have already owned cars before, it is very likely that you have considered the benefits of buying a used car—secondhand or certified pre-owned. After all, used cars are economical and depreciate less. Most of the time, they are less expensive to maintain and repair.
On the contrary, secondhand or pre-owned cars are USED cars, which means out of the 13-17 years years average lifespan, some of it has been used already before you even touched the steering wheel to test drive the vehicle. It can be really challenging to judge what the car has been through since you have not owned from day one. It can be difficult to know whether it has been maintained regularly, or what parts or components have gone into any maintenance or repairs. More often than not, we can have a general idea of a vehicle's condition based on appearance, mileage, and drivability.
General Mileage Guidelines when Looking for a Used Car
Here is an example showing that mileage alone cannot be enough to know the overall condition of a vehicle. Let’s say there are two cars, same make, model, and age. It is obvious that the one with fewer mileage will have a higher value than the one with higher mileage. It is not wise to think that the vehicle with fewer mileage will be a cost-effective deal. Sad to say, it is all too easy to simply assume fewer mileage makes for a better bargain. However, it is really not that simple. Low-mileage and high-mileage cars are not certainly polar opposites.
Here is a couple of examples of how mileage alone can be deceiving when considering the value of a used car:
- For example, a 9-year-old SUV, after 3 owners and 80,000 miles, might be on the verge of kicking the bucket anytime soon. There are just some people who do not care about their cars, satisfied with it being cost-effective but wondering why it is so pricey to repair it when things break. It will be difficult if not impossible, to find maintenance records for a vehicle like this, a clear indication that it is “bad news.”
- Another example is, there’s a single-owner 10-year-old vehicle, the same year, make, and model as the others, but with only 30,000 miles on the odo—only 3,000 miles per year. Typically, cars like these are garaged, maintained and cleaned meticulously, and most probably look like they just got out of a car showroom. Things like dried out oil seals and weakened batteries, because of age, can become a serious threat to the longevity of this vehicle. Still, those problems can be easily remedied and repaired.
- A 2-year-old single-owner sedan might have 50,000 miles on its odometer, most of it highway miles. These cars as well as those of travelling salesperson and real estate agents, are normally well-maintained and kept in good condition. You should not ignore a used car like this, especially if there are tons of records of regular maintenance.
- Rental cars, though, can typically be had for less money, but with a lot of mileage. Rental cars are usually well-maintained and are generally newer model years. Purchasing a prior rental car that has been kept in good repair and reconditioned may be the best deal one can find on a used vehicle market.
Always remember, it can still be challenging to judge between similar vehicles with differing odometer readings. It depends on a great deal of factors but ,if in doubt, go for the 15,000-mile per year average. But still, don’t be frightened of vehicles that are outside of this range, on condition that the used car in question has been well-maintained and there are records to verify it.
Used Car Condition
Like mileage, the condition of the second hand car can give you the general idea about how well it has been maintained and how long it should last. It is a smart idea to get an independent inspection of a used car before buying it. Once you are pursuing a secondhand car dealership, online or local cars for sale, or whenever you see a used car along the side of the road with a signage saying, “For Sale,” you certainly have to take the time to consider its appearance and how it runs. Not everyone knows a lot about cars and are mechanically savvy, so it is best to consult a friend or have the secondhand car inspected by a certified or professional mechanic—an unbiased third party.
A used car technician, inspector or a mechanic generally has a checklist of things to check and how to examine things. The ideal used car inspection includes a general overview of the vehicle, lights, paint, mirrors, glass, and the condition of tires, brakes and engine. Aside from a test drive which usually is enough to get an idea of the vehicle’s overall condition, a scan of the vehicle’s control system will also help the technician to know if the vehicle is detecting any issues in its self-testing programs.
An automotive technician is experienced, and often specializing in a specific brand or family of brands. He can tell when something is not quite right with the used car. But the thing is, his services are not free. So if you decide to consult a mechanically savvy friend or want to do it on your own so save money, then do so. You can examine the vehicle’s appearance, warning lights on the instrumental panel, and interpret the test drive on your own.
Issues that can come from High-Mileage Vehicles
The best resource for car maintenance information is a certified, trusted or professional mechanic. But, knowing a few common knowledge about routine wear-and-tear can help you ensure the road worthiness of your vehicle.
Following your car owner’s manual will certainly help put your mind at ease when it comes to scheduling routine maintenance and replacements. However, there are still some instances that you will be needing the knowledge and skills of a professional or trusted mechanic. And here are a couple of things experts like them wanted you to be mindful of:
Regardless of the mileage you have put on your vehicle, the battery’s lifespan is typically around four years.
When automatic transmission shows any sign of problem, more often than not, they are simply replaced and usually cost thousands of dollars. Automatic transmission repairs are really rare. Transmission failure is to be expected once a vehicle reaches 100,000-mile mark. But, lack of proper and regular maintenance can cause transmission to fail sooner than the usual.
Generally, water pump failure usually occurs around 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Deteriorated or failing water pump can leak coolant which can expose the engine to the risk of overheating. Expert mechanics prefer replacing the timing belt and the water pump at the same time.
You can detect worn brake pads since you can easily hear them when it’s time for new ones. However, mileage cannot really predict when that terrible screech will sound. Your brake pads will wear out more quickly every time you brake hard and frequently drive into heavy traffic. Your way of driving and how often you drive contributes to the wear and tear of your brake pads. In every maintenance check, have your mechanic check your brakes to help detect those worn out pads before they cause major damage to the rotors and bearings.
Fuel Pump Failure
Driving often on a low tank typically causes Fuel Pump Failure and eventually causes damage to the pump, or else your fuel pump will usually last the life of your car. According to experts, changing your fuel filter is a smart idea since it can help preserve it.
Check your timing belts from time to time because they do not give a warning before they break or snap. Broken or snapped timing belts can cause severe damage to your engine. As a preventive measure, experts often suggest replacing the belt anywhere between 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
Part of your regular maintenance routine is the oil change. However, once a car hits the 75,000-mile mark, the engine typically begins to loosen, cause engine rattling and oil leaks. It will certainly help tighten the engine if you switch to high-mileage oil.
There are a lot of factors that affect tire wear which includes road conditions, the type of tire, driving habits, and even the type of vehicle. According to experts, once it is time for tire change it is best if you opt for brand new ones since they ensure safety and performance. Used tires can be hazardous because of their compromised condition.
Make a High Mileage Car Last
To keep a high mileage car road worthy, you will have to do the following:
- Mend any problems immediately
- Go for high quality replacement parts
- Clean it meticulously
- Drive as gentle as you could
- Follow your vehicle owner’s manual
- Purchase the right auto insurance premium
Always keep in mind that high-mileage vehicles are used vehicles and have been through a lot. But knowing the potential problems and addressing them immediately will give your car a longer life.