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How Many Miles Are Too Many For A Used Car?


Cars, at the end of the day, simply are machines and like all machines, with time and use, wear out and come to the point where they are no longer usable and repairable. Now, it’s true that with time, the average life of a car has gone up with time. Cars now are more durable and reliable than the cars that were there a couple of decades ago. Nonetheless, no car can go forever.

Suppose you’re in a situation where you’re planning to buy a used Honda Accord. There are a lot of old, cheap Accords for sale in the market and those might just tempt you. But the catch here is that those cheap cars have already clocked in a lot of miles. In that case, you may wonder if these vehicles are reliable enough. Are such cars really worth the money?

Well, there are multiple factors that could affect a car’s life and mileage is perhaps the most significant indicator of a car’s lifespan. The mileage of a car is a critical factor when it comes to used car purchases because it simply indicates the level of wear and tear done on the moving parts of the car.

Different parts of a car have different lifespans. For instance, a timing belt can last for about 60,000-100,000 miles. Brake pads need to be changed for about every 35,000 to 70,000 miles. The transmission on the other hand needs to have a lifespan of about 150,000-200,000 miles and starts throwing some tantrums after that number is crossed.

Now, even if mileage is an important aspect while buying a used car, that shouldn’t always be the only factor. You’ll find trashy cars with low miles on them and you’ll also find cars in mint condition even if they’ve clocked in many miles. It all largely depends on how the owner has maintained it. If the owner has been regular in changing the car’s fluids, filters, and other consumables on a regular basis, the car shouldn’t have any problems whatsoever.

Before you purchase a used car, ask the owner for the service records. A new car has a warranty that often has a stipulation that the owner should get it serviced from the authorized service center at regular intervals. If the car has been serviced at the authorized place, the owner should have a record of all the servicing that was done on the car. This also includes the history of components and spares that were replaced, at least when the car was in the warranty period. This shall give you a good idea about the car’s overall condition. If a car has a well-maintained service history, we don’t see any problem with you buying a car even if it has many miles on the odometer.

On the other hand, frequent change of owners in the past should raise a red flag. If the car has a long persistent problem, then there is a chance that the owner might be selling to just get rid of it and pass on the faulty car to you. We would recommend you to not put in your money on a car that has a history of ownership changes.

Also, an empty service book should raise a red flag. Cars with little or no service are no good and that’s a clear sign that the owner hasn’t looked well after the car. So avoid buying such a car even if it is up for a low price and has low miles on it.

Like we said, modern cars are much more reliable than older ones. Improvement in the quality of parts, easier availability, and prompt service are some of the key factors that have contributed to increasing the average life of a car.

So, if you’re looking to buy a car from the early 2000s or before that, any car that has more than or close to 100,000 miles on it is not worth the money and it doesn’t have many miles left with it. However, if you’re looking at a new car, something that was built after the 2010s, a car with nearly 100,000 miles on it, it still is worth at least 60,000-75,000 miles.

All in all, used car buying can be tricky. Before you make a purchase, you need to thoroughly inspect the car and see whether everything is alright no matter what mileage the car has on it.