Used cars are sold and bought every day, perhaps more often than new cars. There are countless benefits of buying a used vehicle, with financial savings at the forefront of the decision. However, getting a used car with high mileage could result in even more stress.
So, what is a good mileage for a used car? If you want an old used car, then try to find something between 80,000 to 120,000 miles. For new-ish used cars, you shouldn’t buy a car that has more than 50,000 miles. Both examples can save you plenty of money, they just depend on your personal budget.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn:
- Factors that impact how many miles is considered ‘good’
- New-used vs. old-used cars
- Costs to maintain used vehicles
How Many Miles Should a Used Car Have?
If you’re in the market to buy a used car, then it’s important that you don’t spend too much money on something that has too many miles. If you’re looking to spend less than $10,000, then you should expect the mileage to be between 80,000 to 120,000. On the other hand, if you have $15,000 or more, you can buy a vehicle with less than 50,000 miles.
However, the mileage is only a fraction of the decision-making process. You can buy a car with high mileage that’s worth twice as much as a car that’s brand-new. Let’s review give factors that determine whether or not you should buy a used vehicle:
- If the mileage is too low and the vehicle is old (10 years or older), then it could be a problem. We often associate low mileage with a better deal, but when a car hasn’t been driven enough, it’s prone to rust, corrosion, leaks, and more. When you start driving it regularly, you’ll have a variety of mechanical issues to fix.
- On the other hand, high mileage isn’t always a bad thing. Trucks, cars, and vans are being designed to go far beyond 100,000 miles; A marker that used to be the expiration date of most old vehicles. Keep an eye out for used vehicles around 120,000 miles to get a sweet deal (as long as it was properly maintained).
- On average, most people usually drive between 6,000 to 12,000 miles per year. If you’re worried about finding how many miles should be on a used car, multiple the years times 12,000 and 6,000. If it’s above or below the two numbers, then you should start asking questions.
- Some cars are meant to push further than others. For example, cargo vans are designed to last well over 200,000 miles, while commuter cars usually won’t exceed 150,000 without a plethora of problems. Try to find the average life expectancy of the make and model that you’re looking to purchase prior to making a decision.
- Finally, figure out what type of fuel was used (low vs. high-quality), how often the oil was changed, and if there’s a log of repairs and maintenance. If the owner is able to provide this information, you’ll be able to review it to see if it matches your standards. It’s also a good sign that they’ve kept up with everything as they should’ve.
New-used vs. Old-used Cars
All used cars are not the same. A one-year-old car is technically used, as is a vehicle that’s been driven for 30 years. The blanket term ‘used’ applies to both, but it can conjure completely different images to two separate people.
There are pros and cons to buying new-used and old-used cars. Here’s a collection of what you can expect from either age group:
New-Used Car Pros
- Less mileage on a new-used vehicle is definitely a good sign. It means that it was driven as often as it should’ve been, and it likely wasn’t used as a commuter vehicle. You’ll be able to depend on high-quality craftsmanship from the manufacturer, rather than dealing with 3rd-party fixer-uppers.
- Scratches, scuffmarks, and polished paint jobs are usually part of the package when you buy a new-used car. Not having to inspect it for hidden dents is always a nice addition to buying a vehicle.
- Perhaps the best reason of all is that new-used cars have modern features. Rather than being stuck without a stereo or not having updated speakers, you’ll have everything that you want to use without the high-end prices of brand-new vehicles.
New-Used Car Cons
- The price difference between new-used and old-used cars is undeniable. You’ll likely have to spend $5,000 to $10,000 more than an older vehicle. Not only that, but the insurance is usually higher as well.
- Although they’re not as frequent, repairs on a like-new car typically cost much more money than those on an old vehicle. You’ll also have to deal with manufacturer defects and recalls.
Old-Used Car Pros
- The most obvious reason that you’d consider buying an older car is that it’s cheaper. You won’t have to shovel out excessively high monthly payments, nor will you have to worry about sky-high insurance bills.
- Even if you have to deal with a car that has 120,000 miles on it, you’ll reap the benefits of the previous owner’s work. There’s no doubt that they had to replace a few parts, which means you won’t have to.
- When you’re ready to resell your old-used car, the depreciation value isn’t too bad at all. You can buy a car for $8,000 and sell it for $5,000 a few years later. Brand-new vehicles can lose $10,000 to $12,000 in the same timespan.
Old-Used Car Cons
- If the person you bought the car from didn’t take proper care of it, you could end up spending more money on repairs than you would’ve if you bought a newer vehicle. Always ask for records and proof of repairs.
- You won’t get to use all of the fancy bells and whistles found in new-used cars. This could be a pro or a con, depending on personal preferences.
Costs to Maintain a High-Mileage Used Car
If you’re calculating costs to set up a budget, then you need to know what’s wrong with the vehicle. Pop the hood the see if there are any signs of deterioration, leaks, rust, and stripped belts. All of these issues could be potential repairs in the near future.
Ideally, you could perform your initial inspection before you purchase a vehicle. It’s always better to know what you’re getting yourself into ahead of time. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to buy a $5,000 car that needs $5,000 in repairs within its first year. However, proper maintenance from the previous owner could reduce costs down to $400 or less.
The main things that you need to look for are the hose connections, belts, transmission, engine block, and all of the fluids. In addition to the tires, you’ll be able to get a decent budget set in your mind. For safety purposes, expect to spend 25% of the car’s value within the first year if it wasn’t taken care of, and 10% if it was.
Used vehicles shouldn’t cost you tons of money, but it depends on numerous factors. Different makes and models cost more than others and don’t forget the 3rd-party seller factor. People have different opinions on how much a car should cost. For the most accurate results, check out Kelley Blue Book to get price estimates.