Whether someone is looking to buy their first car or upgrading from their old one, chances are that they’ve considered buying a pre-loved, second-hand, or used car. After all, these cars can serve the same needs as those new cars. They’re perhaps older and well, used, but they can still take you to the places you want to be.
The best part about second-hand cars is that they’re less expensive. They’re also cheaper to maintain and repair and they depreciate less. The only hitch is that these cars have had a whole other life before they ended up in dealership lots. You’d be lucky to find a car with a previous owner who kept meticulous records about maintenance, parts, supplies, and all that. Oftentimes though, you can only judge a car’s condition by what you see right there. And the only solid clues you have are based on appearance, drivability, and, of course, mileage.
The Importance of a Good Mileage on a Used Car
A car’s mileage gives potential buyers a good idea of the state of a car’s components and how far along it is in its lifespan. It also greatly influences the car’s buying price. Oftentimes, cars that have higher mileage, those that have traveled greater distances in a longer period of time, have more wear and tear. On the other hand, those with lesser mileage have more likelihood of being in great condition. That is not always the case, however.
What is the Ideal Mileage on a Used Car?
It’s easy to assume that the car with lesser mileage is the better car but it’s not that simple. Each car has a different total mileage depending on its age. But as a general rule of thumb, you have to assume that the average driver travels about 12,000 miles per year. Following this guideline, a good mileage for a 5-year old car would be 60,000 miles and 120,000 miles for a 10-year-old. If the numbers go over or below significantly, there might be some trouble for that vehicle in the future. With that said, mileage can be terribly misleading. There are so many other factors you have to consider than just the distance traveled by the vehicle. Here are some examples:
- Too many past owners: A 10-year-old car with 90,000 mileage might be a good deal. But if it had at least three or four owners in the past, chances are that one of them didn’t properly maintain the vehicle. Just the difficulty of finding maintenance records for cars like this should be a red sign for you to steer clear.
- Single long time owner: Contrary to that, a 10-year-old car with only 30,000 miles on it is a pretty great deal. These cars are usually kept in the garage but are regularly cleaned and maintained. The only thing you’d have to worry about these are little things like weakened batteries, dry-rot, and dried out oil seals which are easy enough to repair.
- The past use of the vehicle: A two-year fairly new vehicle might have a hefty 50 000 miles on it already but if it has been used by traveling sales representatives or real estate agents, you can bet that that car has been kept in pretty good shape. Vehicles used in such professions often have to be kept well-maintained and in good repair to avoid any hassles on the road. The same is true for rental cars which are generally newer models and are usually well-maintained.
Used Car Shopping Tips
It’s great to stick to the general rule of judging a car’s mileage but you don’t need to be afraid of going over that range. You simply have to consider other factors into the equation.
One of the best things you can do before buying a second-hand car is to get an independent inspection of the car you’re interested in. Usually, used-car inspectors or technicians would scan the vehicle’s control system and take a good look at the vehicle’s engine, brakes, tires, lights, mirrors, body fit, and finish. A lot of technicians also specialize in specific drives and a test drive can immediately tell them if something’s wrong.
As for what you can do yourself, do as much research as possible. Ask about the car’s history, who the previous owners were, how well it was maintained, how many repairs it went through, where it was driven, how it was driven, and the like. Also, thoroughly research the make and model of the car so you know what issues to look out for. Once you’ve satisfied all those, you’re pretty much set for a set of new wheels on the road soon.