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Are Cars With A Lot Of Miles (High Mileage) Bad?

Before we get into whether high mileage cars are bad, let’s first discuss when a car is called high mileage. 

A car is typically called high mileage if it has put more miles on it than any average car with similar age. The average driver puts on 10,000 to 12,000 miles per year on a car. 

Any miles above that are generally considered High Mileage vehicles. So if a car is 5 years old and has 100,000 miles it would be considered high mileage for the year. 

However as a generalised concept, in the used car market, any mileage above the barrier of 100,00 miles is considered a high mileage car. 

The common tendency for many used car buyers is to not buy any car above 100,00 miles.

Although 100,000 miles may look like a lot of miles (which of course, it is), buying a car with over 100,000 miles may not be a bad thing.

Although cars with a lot of miles in them are more likely to have issues than similar cars with lower miles, often you can get a good deal on used cars with higher miles. If the purchase price is considerably less than the same cars with a few less miles then buying the higher mileage car is the better option. 

Just because something is a bit higher in miles doesn’t mean it hasn’t been well taken care of either. If you have two cars with one that has been well maintained with 125,000 miles and one that hasn’t been well maintained with 80,000 miles, the higher mileage vehicle will likely last longer. 

It’s all about how well the car was taken care of. 

Let’s find out when a car is good regardless of high mileage and when it is a bad purchase.

How Many Miles Is Too High For A Used Car?

If you are looking to get a used car you will likely want to avoid doing a bunch of work on it regularly. However you also will want to save some money. 

So how many miles is too many miles for a used car? 

Although there is no specific number of miles that is “too high” many people consider 150,000 or 200,000 miles to be where they draw the line. Cars over that mileage are more likely to have major issues sooner that people don’t want to deal with. 

After 200,000 miles, even the best cars of modern times may begin to have some major problems. So my suggestion is do not purchase any used car that has more than 200,000 miles on it, even if you are getting a “Good” deal.

Does High Mileage Mean It Is A Bad Car?

Although a high mileage car is generally avoided in the used car market, the number of miles does not always perfectly reflect the condition of the car. 

If there are  2 cars, one with 80,000 miles and another with 60,000 miles on it, people will likely go for the one with 60,000 miles. But, a car with 80,000 miles all driven on the highway will generally be in a better condition than a car with 60,000 miles all driven in city traffic and maintained poorly.

Another point to consider is, if a car with 60,000 miles has 3 owners and a bad service record, it may be a worse purchase than a car with a single owner that has over 80,000 miles on it and a perfect service record.

So, mileage is a factor for sure, but you should be sure to look for other factors like maintenance and age to make sure what you are buying is worth buying.

What’s More Important, Mileage Or Age?

When you purchase a used car, you should always look for the age of the vehicle and the number on its odometer.  But, are they always the right things to consider? 

Mileage and age both play a part in how well a vehicle will last. Mileage is typically a more important metric, all things being equal. 

Age can be a factor while deciding on the condition of a car because some parts of the car need periodic change. General wear and tear make these parts need replacement after a certain number of years or miles. 

So, while deciding on the condition, make sure you are taking age and number of parts changed into consideration. How it has aged has a direct impact on how it will perform over the years, once you buy it.

Again similar to age, some parts of the car need replacement after a certain amount of miles, like the engine oil and tires. The number of miles also take its toll on the engine, pistons and other important parts. 

So, also take into consideration the age of the vehicle as well as the miles 

However, more important than these is how the car was maintained. If its service book accurately shows the number of services needed and how well the car was maintained, you will know what you are getting into when you buy that car. Cars last longer when they are regularly maintained with periodical oil and air filter changes and fluid level, bets and hose checks.

So, if the car received regular maintenance, and has a reasonable number of miles on the odometer, in all probability, it will perform reasonably well over the years.

Why Buying High Mileage Cars Can Be A Great Idea

Cars today are designed to last for a long time. So, if you are afraid of high mileage cars, because they are “risky to buy”, you can lose out on a great deal, particularly if the car is in great shape.

Because people tend to avoid those high mileage cars, they usually have a lower price tag. If you know how to check whether the car is in good condition and the car turns out to be in great shape, you can potentially get a great deal on an otherwise expensive car.

Moreover, if you change your car often, you can use any high mileage well maintained car for some time and then sell it again without losing hardly any value (or even going up in value). This is because the price depreciation tends to slow significantly or even stop after the car reaches a certain age or mileage.

In addition, buying a newer car with high mileage is always preferable than buying an old car with lesser mileage. The reason is simple enough: some parts with regular and tear needs to be replaced after a certain time period, even if the car did not run in the meantime. 

Another thing is cars are meant to be driven and hence if a car is being driven regularly, it gets lubricated more. And if the car is parked for a long time, some parts start to malfunction. 

So, opt for a car that has not sat out for too long. So, if other favorable conditions are met, it is always wise to invest in a high mileage car if the deal yoh are getting makes it worthwhile. 

At What Mileage Do Cars Start Having Problems?

With proper care and maintenance any average car is expected to run for an average of 200,000 miles. If it was driven primarily on the stop and go city roads or it was not properly maintained, a car may start to have issues anywhere between 100,000-125,000 miles. 

But even after proper care, after 200,000 miles, most of the cars reach their life expectancy. They start having major failures, and other problems that cost a lot to repair, which make them not the best cars to own.

Although there have been a lot of instances where certain cars were used for more than 500,000 miles without any major problem, as a thumb rule they are better avoided.