Shopping for a used car has its own set of challenges. While you'll likely find something more affordable than what you may see when it comes to new car prices, used vehicles have gone through their paces and can easily lead to additional maintenance costs you wouldn't get with a brand-new vehicle. The key is to find a used car or truck that's still in good condition.
One of the indicators of a car is in its mileage—how many miles it's traveled in the course of its lifetime. And while this number is just one aspect you should pay attention to when purchasing a used vehicle, you still shouldn't dismiss its importance. So how much mileage should a used car have to be worth your money?
When it comes to assessing mileage, you have a couple of aspects to consider. One is the number of miles that the car has, while the other major component is the age of the vehicle. Used vehicles made in different years will have vastly different mileages, but they can both still be serviceable. The key is to see how many miles the car has driven in a year.
Previously, the rule used to be that you wouldn't want to purchase a used vehicle that had driven more than 100,000 miles. However, thanks to the advancements in technology, a well-maintained car or truck can go beyond this point and still not give you any issues.
If the goal is then to evaluate vehicles based on the average number of miles driven in a year, what counts as "good mileage"? In most cases, you'll want to base it on the average number of miles per year, with the current standard sitting at 12,000-15,000.
So, let's say you were considering purchasing one of the Ram trucks that was five years old. Anywhere between 60,000-75,000 miles on the odometer would be in a safe range to buy. However, you shouldn't completely dismiss a car if it's slightly above this threshold. Some drivers will use their car much more than the average numbers due to having longer commutes or traveling more than others.
Aside from just the number of miles that a car has on it, it's essential to understand that where those miles came from is critical. Cars generally handle driving on highways much better than they do on city roads or in the country. A five-year-old GMC vehicle that's driven 80,000 miles on the interstate is likely in better shape than a four-year-old car with only 40,000 miles.
To ensure that you're getting a good deal, you should always ask about what sort of conditions the car in question has driven in to make sure that hasn't hurt the status of the vehicle to avoid potential repair costs in the future.
While you do want to pay attention to mileage, it's only one of many factors you should pay attention to when shopping for a used vehicle. Even a high-mileage car can be in excellent condition so long as its owner has given it the proper maintenance.
To confirm that this is the case, you should as for maintenance records for the time the owner has had the car. This process will let you know if any parts are likely to need repairs shortly or if anything has missed a maintenance milestone. Even small factors, like missed oil changes, can negatively impact the wellbeing of a vehicle.
Other areas you want to consider besides mileage when shopping used are:
· Check the state of the interior and exterior
· Consider certified pre-owned cars
· Check reviews for the make and model of the used vehicle
· Research the value of the car
· View the vehicle history report
If at all possible, take the used vehicle to a mechanic so they can thoroughly inspect it for any potential issues you may encounter. If the car needs repairs, you can also gain an idea of how much that will cost you in addition to the purchasing price and if that extra expense will be worth it for you.
If you can't have a mechanic look at the vehicle for whatever reason, you should at least take it for a test drive. This step will allow you to get a feel for the car and see how it holds up. It's in your best interest to test drive on both local roads and the highway to see how it handles in both environments. If you don't feel comfortable during the test drive, you should probably pass on the car.
Your test drive is also an excellent opportunity to perform a leak test. Take the time to park on a clean section of the road or a parking lot and let the car run for at least half a minute. Afterward, take a walk around the vehicle to check for any leaking fluids, which are a clear sign that the car needs repairs.
With all the other areas you need to pay attention to when buying a used vehicle, mileage is only one piece of the puzzle. You should still keep an eye out for it, but it shouldn't be the final deciding factor in your purchase.
However, if you see several other red flags with the vehicle and the mileage is higher than the expected average for its age, that's a sign that the car probably won't be a smart purchase. Remember that while you may save money on the initial investment, used vehicles can quickly run up additional costs in repairs, especially if the car is from a high-end brand.
Your comfort and safety are the most critical factors. Don't compromise on either to save some money—but also don't dismiss a vehicle based on its mileage.