When buying a used car, one of the things to consider is the vehicle’s mileage—but that doesn’t mean you should only consider cars with ultra-low mileage. It’s great if you can find a car with just a few thousand miles, but people usually trade-in or sell theirs after they’ve used them as their daily driver for a few years. That means the bulk of available used cars will have some mileage on them—and that’s OK.
Even conservative estimates say that a used car with 150,000 miles will provide an average driver several more years of reliable service—and that figure includes in the average all modern used cars (approximately 2000 and newer). Cars that have been carefully maintained and certified by a mechanic to be in good shape can last even longer.
Here is a very general look at what would be considered decent mileage for a used car.
- How Many Miles Should a 1-Year-Old Car Have: 15,000
- How Many Miles Should a 2-Year-Old Car Have: 30,000
- How Many Miles Should a 3-Year-Old Car Have: 45,000
- How Many Miles Should a 4-Year-Old Car Have: 60,000
- How Many Miles Should a 5-Year-Old Car Have: 75,000
- How Many Miles Should a 6-Year-Old Car Have: 90,000
- How Many Miles Should a 7-Year-Old Car Have: 105,000
- How Many Miles Should an 8-Year-Old Car Have: 120,000
- How Many Miles Should a 9-Year-Old Car Have: 135,000
- How Many Miles Should a 10-Year-Old Car Have: 150,000
Why Miles Aren’t the Only Thing That Matters When Buying a Used Car
So, if you find a great 5-year-old car with 90,000 miles, does that mean you should pass? Not necessarily. The numbers above are a general guideline—not an absolute rule.
It’s also important to keep in mind that mileage alone is not a good indicator of whether a used car is a good option. Here are a few examples that show why mileage doesn’t always matter.
- A 5-year-old rental car is likely to have very high miles, but it was probably also carefully maintained.
- A driver with a long daily commute might rack up high miles, but most of those miles are going to be highway miles, which are easier on the car than city miles.
- On the flip side, a driver who tooled around town to the tune of 10,000 miles per year yet didn’t keep up with any maintenance will result in a used car with lower miles that’s not worth buying.
The Importance of an Inspection When Buying a Used Car
It would be great if every used car came with proof that all routine maintenance was performed properly and on time, but unfortunately, that’s not usually the case.
There is another way to learn a bit about the car’s condition: a thorough inspection by a professional mechanic. Every car sold by Owings Auto receives a detailed once-over—and that’s not just an empty promise. We stand behind every car we sell with a 24-month, 24K mile warranty. EVERY CAR, whether it has 10,000 miles or 175,000 miles.
This type of free warranty isn’t common in the used car business, but we’re happy to offer it as a way to give our customers peace of mind that when they buy a used car from us that they can be sure it’s a quality vehicle.
You might be wondering what this inspection includes. Some of the features that we inspect at Owings Auto are listed below. If you’re buying a used car from another source, it’s a good idea to have an inspection performed and to use this list as a reference as to what your mechanic should be looking for.
- Body Condition
- Instruments and Controls
- Hoses and Belts
- Exhaust System
- CV Joints
- Fuel Tank
In addition to a visual inspection and test drive, a scan of the vehicle control system should be performed to see if any issues pop up. Note that the above list is not exhaustive, and a qualified mechanic will know how to look for problems or signs of potential problems when inspecting a used car.
Does Low Mileage Equal a Better Car?
In the same way high miles don’t make a car a bad choice, low miles don’t automatically make a used car a good choice. A car can have low miles and never have received maintenance. That’s why an inspection by a qualified mechanic should influence your decision much more than simply what the odometer reads.
Instead of looking at how much the car has been used, look at how much life the car has left.
In the example above, we discussed how a car with 150,000 miles could still provide several years of reliable performance. That’s the part that matters, right? You’re not paying for a car so you can stare at the odometer—you’re buying a car that will get you where you need to go.
Many buyers end up passing on a well-maintained car that would have been a reliable daily driver, but they didn’t like the number of miles. That thinking could cause you to miss out on great deals.
A General Tip for Buying a Used Car
No matter how many miles a car has, it’s a good idea to buy from a dealer. The reason is simple: You’ll have some recourse if something goes wrong. If you buy from the right dealer, you’ll also have warranty protection.
Owings Auto wants our customers to feel secure when they buy one of our quality pre-owned cars. That’s why, in addition to thorough inspections, we offer the FREE 24-month, 24K mile warranty mentioned above.
If you’re in the market for a used car, view our inventory online or stop by to see what we have in stock. We’ll help you find the pre-owned car that meets your needs and your budget. Owing Auto also offers simple financing—even for those with bad credit. Fast approvals mean you can get the car you need today.