How Many Miles on a Used Car is Too Much?

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How Many Miles on a Used Car is Too Much?

While shopping around for a used car, people generally first look at the mileage or how many kilometres are showing on the odometer. This was more so during the eighties and nineties, understandably because cars were not as technologically advanced as they are at present. 

In the past, a car with a 100,000-mile reading was considered to be near the end of its life, which meant no one wanted to buy it. But, not anymore! Are you wondering what is good mileage for a used car now? With the superior technological features that cars are made with now and the superior servicing that is offered, a car with a 100,000 reading can last for a lot longer. 

The pathbreaking technological advancements and improvements in quality engineering with the added usage of computers in the design and manufacture process means the life of a car has gone up to almost 300,000 kilometres or nearly 200,000 miles. 

If you are looking to buy a used car but are unsure of how much mileage is too much, this article is for you! 

How many miles should a used car have?

Is mileage alone the criterion to consider for a used car purchase? Although a low mileage may look very appealing when comparing different used cars, in reality, it need not be so. 

Most car owners drive an average of 10,000 to 15,000 miles every year. So, if you are buying a car that’s around 5, years old, you can expect to find a reading of 50,000 to 75,000 on the odometer. However, if you are looking at a reading of around 100,000 miles on the clock, should you steer clear of such a car? Well, it depends. 

Conventional wisdom would indicate if the car has been driven around a lot, it will likely not last a long time once it is purchased by a used car owner. However, if the car has undergone regular maintenance and has been driven on sparsely-populated areas and highways, for the most part, the car will likely have no trouble hitting up to 200,000 miles on the clock, if not more. So, the odometer reading alone hardly ever gives you the full picture. 

In contrast, if you find an eight-year-old car with only 30,000 miles on it, you may think it’s a great deal. But, if the owner mostly drove the vehicle on busy city streets, neglected routine maintenance checks, and changed the oil very infrequently, it’s likely the engine and other parts are in a worse condition than the odometer reading would lead you to believe. 

How many miles is too many for a used car?

The choice between an older car with low mileage and a newer car with high mileage is more often than not difficult to make. The best way to decide between the two is to examine in detail each car’s history. If the higher mileage car has done most of its runs on highways, the higher odometer reading should not be a concern because there would have been lesser wear and tear on clutch, brakes, suspension and gearbox. 

Most importantly, the engine would have been operating at its ideal mean temperature range for most of the time, which, in turn, further reduces wear and tear. 

On the other hand, lower mileage cars may be appealing, but if the parts of the car show excessive signs of wear-and-tear, you should, ideally not buy it. Added to this, there is a possibility that the vehicle owner may have ‘clocked’ or turned back the car’s mileage to make it appear more valuable. Fortunately, you can determine this with relative ease by getting a vehicle report on the MyVehicle website.

It is, therefore, best to stop focusing on the numbers on the odometer and rather get to know on what road conditions those numbers were achieved, and the full-service history by ordering a comprehensive vehicle history report for the car you are looking to purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 170,000 miles on a car bad?

What really is high mileage for a diesel car - is 170,000 too much? While many people would think that 170,000 miles on a car is a little excessive, you should evaluate what the car owner used the vehicle for, what the driving conditions were, and whether regular maintenance was done. If you find that the car was used as a taxi or hackney and was driven primarily around the city, you should steer clear of it. However, if the vehicle was driven only on the highways and you are getting it at a good price, you could consider purchasing the car. 

Is 90,000 miles on a used car bad?

90,000 miles on a used car is not excessive, especially if you are looking at a model that is over 5 years old. Just ensure that you get a report on the car from and have a mechanic check it out to spot issues that you may have overlooked. 

Is 110,000 miles on a car bad?

Given how technologically advanced cars are today, a reading of 110,000 miles on the odometer can no longer be considered bad. It’s uncommon to hear of cars running beyond 200,000 miles without giving the owner any trouble. However, you should ensure that you check the overall condition of the car and review the vehicle report. If you find that the car was not really taken care of by the current owner, it may be best to consider other options. However, if the car appears to be well-taken care of, you could go ahead with the purchase. 


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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