How Important Is Mileage When Buying A Used Car?

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We make this complete guide about How Important Is Mileage When Buying A Used Car works, so you don’t make a bad decision when buying a used/new car, you will want to read every line of this post.

When shopping for a new car (used), quite a lot of things should be considered to ensure you’re not buying a stolen vehicle or an unreliable vehicle.

Among the things to consider when buying used cars include the mileage, age of the car, car history, and quite many other things.

Whether you’re buying from a dealership or a private seller (who has the legal title of the car), you shouldn’t completely trust the documents and reports they present to you.

It is advisable that you also run personal checks using external tools or platforms to validate the authenticity of the information provided by a used car seller (private or dealership).

Back to our major concern – how important is mileage when buying used cars.

For as long as the car you’re about to buy is not a brand new vehicle, checking the mileage is very important.

Ignoring the odometer reading and relying on other satisfying information that may have been provided by the seller can possibly end you with a totally useless vehicle.

However, the age of a used car is also an important factor to be considered.

Apparently, very old vehicles do not have essential safety features found on modern cars. It would be best to go for a used car with a couple of important car safety features.

This is not generally compulsory, but it is important because it helps in various situations.

So, between mileage and age of the vehicle, which is more important to consider when buying a used car? Let’s take you through some valid points.

How Important is Mileage When Buying a Used Car?

Firstly, what threat does a high mileage car pose? What if the car is still within its first five (5) of being manufactured?

Why shouldn’t I buy a car that is properly maintained, but the odometer reader shows high numbers?

Well, it is advisable to settle with a used car that has been driven for fewer miles.

Typically, cars are driven up to 12000 miles annually (on average). Hence, it is not bad to buy a used reading around 35000 miles within its first three (3) years of being manufactured.

If a used car shows up to 100k miles within the space of five (5) years, that could possibly be a red flag even if the previous owner(s) was consistent with a maintenance routine.

However, depending on the purpose the used car was previously serving – it could have been driven through long routes quite regularly, or used only when taking the family to outings/church/school.

It is not obvious that low or high mileage is among the factors that decide the final price of a used car when haggling ensues.

But, when you see a car reading up to a hundred thousand miles (100000 miles), it doesn’t just mean the car has a high mileage – you should ask how old the car is; a car manufactured in 2010 and reading 100000 miles in 2020 isn’t a high mileage vehicle.

Instead, it is a good car worth being bought off the dealership lots (if other important factors and components are good).

How Do I Know A High Mileage Used Car?

There are many ways to read a car’s actual mileage because the odometer could be faulty and provide an inaccurate reading.


Nevertheless, irrespective of how you read the mileage and have gotten the answer, here are things to consider.

  • A car is expected to run an average 12000 miles per year; hence, a 2010 car model that reads 100000 miles in 2020 is a low mileage car. Since the average mileage is 12000 and the car has been used for ten years (2010 – 2020), literally, the mileage should be 120000 miles, but it’s even less. Hence, it is safe to call it a low mileage vehicle.
  • In contrast, if a 2010 car is reading above 180000 miles, that could be a red flag, and the vehicle is obviously a high-mileage vehicle.

So, here’s a quick summary of how to know a high mileage or low mileage used car.

When you see the vehicle, check for the year it was manufactured and then multiply 12000 by the number of the years the car has lasted.

The arithmetic formula can be applied in this manner = A * N = A miles, and then O – A miles= R miles. (ANOAR).

  • “A” is the “Average” miles per year
  • “N” is the “Number of years” the vehicle has lasted
  • “O” is the actual “Odometer” reading
  • “A miles” is the average miles the car is expected to have run based on its manufactured date
  • “R miles” is what decides if the car is a high mileage car or a low mileage car

Let’s take a Toyota Camry 2012 model as an example.

You want to buy the Camry 2012 in 2020 as a used car from a dealership.

The actual or average odometer reading after checking with different devices outputs 140000 miles.

According to our formula above, it’s 12000 * 8 = 96000 miles, and then 140000 – 96000 = 44000 miles.

So, here, this particular Toyota Camry 2012 is a high mileage vehicle, but still considerable because 44000 extra miles isn’t too bad.

More so, a 2012 Toyota Camry comes with a bunch of car safety features, as well as driver-assistance techs.

However, you should thoroughly check the other components of the car because the previous owner drove long-distance routes quite several times.

Check the tire threads, brakes, clutches, transmission, and other aspects – if you are not conversant with these aspects, get a mechanic to do the inspection.

Low Mileage Vehicle

So, since the particular 2012 Camry you picked is a high mileage vehicle, you could ask the dealership’s salesperson to show you another 2012 Camry so you can check it out, too.

Let’s say you ended up with a 2012 Camry that reads 95000 miles on the odometer. Below is how to do the calculation.

According to our formula above, it’s 12000 * 8 = 96000 miles, and then 95000 – 96000 = -1000 miles.

Here, we have a final negative answer, which means that the 2nd Camry was driven a few miles below the expected average.

Precisely, the 2nd Camry was driven 1000 miles less than average; hence, it is a low mileage vehicle.

But then, you should try to understand why the car has such low miles; what purpose was the car serving the previous owner.

What if the car was parked in a mechanic workshop for a long time – was the fault actually fixed or a makeshift repair was introduced?

These are some of the things you need to understand before making a final decision to buy the 2012 Camry with low mileage reading.

Furthermore, asides mileage readings, age can also be a determining factor when buying a used car.

You won’t like to buy an old rickety car, which parts are no longer available in the market.

Back to our initial focus, how important is mileage when buying a used car? It is very important and is one of the determining factors that decide if you should buy a particular vehicle or not.

However, before a car can be seen as a high mileage car, you have to consider the vehicle’s age against the expected average miles for all used cars within its range.

Mileage vs. Age Of Vehicle: Which One Should Determine Your Next Car?

As already explained in this article, mileage, and age of the vehicle work hand in hand.

You have to consider the vehicle’s age before arriving at a conclusion based on the odometer’s reading.

Nevertheless, always try to purchase newer car models because they come with more safety and driver-assistance features.

On the other hand, a very old vehicle, let’s say a vehicle manufactured over twelve years ago from this year, isn’t generally advisable irrespective of how it was maintained.

This doesn’t mean you should still buy such when you ascertain that everything in the car is working perfectly – we simply won’t recommend such vehicles because some of the components may continually require attention and repair due to aging. 

More so, when the car is old and reads high mileage, simply port to another vehicle on the dealership’s lot – DON’T BUY IT! If the seller is a private seller, politely get him to understand why you can’t but the car.

Obviously, the seller would try every possible means to convince you, and may you buy the vehicle, but you shouldn’t fall for the pressure.

Such a car has probably been roughly driven by different drivers or owners, and you give you real though times.


Use our ANOAR formula to distinguish between a high mileage vehicle and low mileage vehicle.

More so, we strongly advise that you check various other aspects of a used car before agreeing on a deal to buy the car from a private seller or dealership.

Ask questions and request all the essential documents that validate the authenticity of the used car you’re about to buy.

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