Is It a Bad Idea to Buy a Used Car With Lots of Miles?

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When buying a used car, you’re likely going to consider two key metrics: the car’s age and its mileage. Older cars, and cars with higher mileage, tend to have lower prices—but at what cost?
Autotrader consider which of these two factors is more important, and whether it’s worth buying a used car with tons of mileage in the first place.
dashboard of a classic car
When buying a used car, factors such as the car’s mileage, age, and safety features are all important considerations.

What to know about mileage when buying a used car

It’s important to note that a car’s mileage and its age do not always correlate. A newer car can have more miles on it, for example. Moreover, certain types of miles—such as miles driven in the city or in harsh weather conditions—may wear on a car more than other kinds of miles, such as those driven on the highway.
The average car-owner drives about 14,300 miles per year, meaning that you may expect a four-year-old used car to have around 57,200 miles on it.
According to Autotrader, however, some car brands, such as Toyota and Honda, are known to be more reliable long-term. While these brands aren’t necessarily going to be less worn, they tend to be good bets when buying a used vehicle.

What to know about age when buying a used car

In addition to its mileage, the age of a used car should represent a serious consideration to any car-buyer.
Newer used cars with lower mileage are optimal in terms of durability, and thus are most likely to last the longest. According to Autotrader, the average age of a car in the U.S. in 2020 was 12.1 years, a new high achieved during the pandemic. It’s important to keep this number in mind when purchasing a used car, and to consider how many years your used vehicle might have left.

Safety considerations when buying a used car

It’s important to keep in mind the vehicle’s safety features when buying any car, used or new. That being said, while it’s standard for new cars to offer advanced safety features and technology, older models may be lacking in this department.
Autotrader advises that used car-buyers look for various key safety features when making their purchase, including adaptive headlights, which help drivers navigate adverse weather conditions; anti-lock brakes and stability control; backup cameras, which allow drivers to see the area they are backing out of; blind-spot monitoring, which detects any potential blind spots which the driver might not be aware of; and LED headlights and taillights, which offer higher-quality illumination than older halogen bulbs.
Some other recommended safety features to look out for in a used vehicle include automatic high beams, forward collision warning, emergency braking, and rain-sensing wipers. Many used cars will come with few or none of these features, so it’s important to find out which are offered before making the purchase.

Conclusions about used car-buying

Overall, while Autotrader believes that mileage, age, and safety features are all important factors to consider when buying a used car, the most important consideration is how the car’s past owner treated their vehicle. A well-maintained vehicle may be a better bet than a mistreated one, even if it has a higher mileage or is older.
So, before you lock yourself into a deal, be sure to get the car checked out by a local auto repair shop. The result might tell you more about the used car’s long-term potential than any single number or feature could.

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