Why is mileage so important?

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Why is mileage important on a used car?

Why mileage matters on a used car 

Mileage remains one of the most important factors of consideration for any used car buyer and is one of the aspects of car purchase that consumers obsess about. 

Both low and high mileage affects the value of the vehicle and also the cost of maintenance. There is usually less wear and tear on vehicles with low mileage, if they have been taken care of properly and received regular servicing.

Key areas where excessive mileage can affect vehicle costs:

  • Brake pads every 25,000km - 35,000km: cost Rear (shoes) €80.00 - Front €105.00

  • Brake discs every 65,000km (40,000 miles): cost €160.00 - €260.00

  • Tyres every 32,000km (20,000 miles): cost €320.00 - €600.00

  • Timing belt and water pump - often around 120,000km (75,000 miles): cost €200.00 - €600.00 and up to €3,000 if belt snaps

  • Clutch and flywheel every 160,000km (100,000 miles): cost €900.00 - €1,000.00

Below average mileage

These are only approximate costs and they can be lower in some cases and in a lot of cases be much higher, depending on the vehicle and how expensive the parts are.

The car's condition should always be consistent with the mileage. That is why it is very important to look out for excessive wear and tear on cars that show low mileage on the odometer. 

If you are looking to buy a vehicle with low mileage, which is what most used car buyers aim for, you should always question why it is lower than the average annual mileage for that particular type and model of vehicle. If the mileage is lower than the average, you should be wary as clocking is prevalent in the used car market.

Above average mileage

Cars with above average mileage can be less expensive and can save you money up front. Depreciation is usually lower in these high-mileage vehicles. It can mean that any money you may save initially on a high-mileage vehicle can be absorbed in future repairs and hidden damage.

As we all know, repair costs are a can of worms and sometimes getting a cheap car because it has high-miles can be a ‘false-economy’. Remember, repair costs on modern vehicles can be excessive due to the complexities of the onboard computer and other technologies. 

Probably the biggest cost that you may encounter from a high-mileage vehicle is the gearbox and suspension. There is a reason that professional traders sell their used vehicles with engine and gearbox warranties, because older cars with high miles are subject to these common failures.

Cars at around 160,000km (100,000 miles) will have had key parts already repaired such as brake pads, brake disks, tyres etc. and possibly have problems with the clutch and gearbox.  It is definitely a good idea to check the service record and also ask the seller what repairs were carried out and the cost of those repairs.

How the actual mileage is achieved matters

The way the vehicle has earned its high mileage is also important. If the car is above average mileage, you should ask the seller what kind of driving they do. If the vehicle has been driven long distance regularly on motorways, it will mean that there will be less brake, clutch and gear issues associated with the high mileage. If on the other hand, the high mileage was from short commute distance, this could be a problem as start-stop city driving puts a lot of wear and tear on a vehicle. 

Size of engine matters when it comes to mileage

The larger and more powerful the engine, the more miles it can withstand before issues arise. A more powerful vehicle with a 2.2 litre engine which has travelled 100,000 miles will fare better and will probably have less problems than a small 1.0 litre car. Remember, also that if you want to finance the vehicle, it gets harder when the car has huge mileage.  

See our tips to buy a used car safely

A 10-year-old car with 160,000 kilometers may have received more servicing and care than a five-year-old car with 80,000 kilometers. This highlights the importance of finding out from the owner how the car was used and what kind of commuting they did. 

To find out if a particular vehicle has above average mileage, you can run a car history check as this will tell you how many miles the car has, if there are any discrepancies and if the mileage is above average for that make and model.

It is also prudent to have the car checked out by a vehicle assessor who can carry out a pre-purchase inspection of the vehicle before you commit to buying. This inspection will identify any issues and if the car is roadworthy and worth buying.

See What is a pre-purchase vehicle inspection?


Before you buy a used car, you should ask the seller to write the mileage down on your receipt. This way you will have a written record of the mileage the seller claimed was on the car. If at a later date you discover the car was clocked, you will have evidence of the mileage at the time of purchase. If the seller is not willing to do this, it would not be a good sign and so you should strongly consider walking away.

Mileage discrepancies

All mileage records are inputted manually by thousands of various trade sources in Ireland and the UK, there are bound to be errors on the record from time to time. The vehicle history check supplier does not create the mileage record but compiles reports based on the previous recorded data input by multiple sources. These sources include, members of the automotive trade, such as franchise dealer,  independent traders, private sellers, vehicle manufacturers, 

repair garages, insurance companies, vehicle assessors, banks, financial institutions, governmental institutions etc.

How should you view a mileage discrepancy? Well, the appearance on a car history check is, in no way, a failing of the report. In fact, the appearance of a discrepancy should be an opportunity to think further about the vehicle and its background. The good thing is that discrepancies are usually very simple to rectify in most cases after investigation.

As there are hundreds of millions of mileage records, it is impossible to investigate these and rectify them prior to report generation. As with any data record, they are subject to having a human recorder and therefore all human input data records are subject to the human condition which can result in typos, rounding-up, rounding down or going from memory. These factors all contribute to the appearance of a discrepancy on a mileage check.

Such data errors, although may be classed as ‘inaccurate’ or an ‘error’, are not in themselves nefarious in any way, and so a discrepancies should not be equated with ‘clocking’ in the majority of cases.

Mileage or Odometer discrepancies are quite common on vehicle history check reports and they can occur for a number of reasons. Some of the reasons why a vehicle may show a discrepancy are:

  • Mileage/Kilometre entry error:  the mileage was entered in miles instead of kilometres and vice versa. (since 2005, all new vehicles in Ireland were changed to kilometres only)

  • Typographical error: an extra digit is typed in by mistake or a digit is accidentally omitted. For example, a dealer could enter a reading of 125,000 kms instead of 25,000 kms. The recorder may

  • Human error: The person inputting the reading may have gone from memory and as a result input the wrong reading. It is possible that a trip-mileage reading is input instead of the correct odometer reading which can create a discrepancy. 

  • Clocking: A vehicle's clock may have been deliberately tampered with and altered to show a lower mileage reading 

It must be noted also that mileage readings can only be supplied if they have been recorded and digistised and so mileage on any vehicle is not guaranteed. This is the same with every car check supplier in the world. MyVehicle.ie has, however, built up an extensive mileage database for both Irish and UK vehicles and this database is growing on a daily basis.

If there is a mileage discrepancy highlighted on your MyVehicle report you can contact us at support@MyVehicle.ie stating the vehicle registration and reference number of the report and we can investigate further.


Not only is deliberately tampering with the vehicle odometer to make it look like it has less miles than it actually is illegal, it is also unsafe. Apart from the fact that it is dishonest, there are legitimate safety concerns with vehicles that are clocked. 

Standard maintenance intervals are usually calculated based on the mileage of the vehicle. If a vehicle has its odometer put back by thousands of miles, the new owner may very well delay essential repairs, maintenance and servicing. A car may miss general servicing like brakes, tyres fluids etc. Particularly problematic would be the vehicle's timing belt not being changed when due. Many of these issues can lead to a vehicle becoming unsafe to drive.

See What is a mileage check?

Q & A

Why should you run a mileage check?

The main purpose of a mileage check is to determine if the vehicle has been ‘Clocked’ or if there are any unresolved discrepancies on the mileage record. Car clocking in the used-car market is on the rise in both Ireland and the UK, so it is imperative that you find out the background of the vehicle before you part with your hard-earned cash.  

How can I do a mileage check on a car?

The easiest way to find out the mileage on any vehicle is to first run a full vehicle background check. This car history check will first of all reveal if the vehicle has a mileage record as not all vehicles have a digitised mileage record. In most cases, though, the vehicle will have a mileage record and the check will highlight if there is a discrepancy or if the car is clocked. MyVehicle.ie has access to over 10 million Irish mileage readings and hundreds of Millions UK mileage readings. 

What is a mileage discrepancy?

A mileage discrepancy is the difference between two values on a vehicle's mileage record which do not reconcile. A discrepancy occurs when the latest current reading is lower than a previous reading which highlights an inconsistency. Discrepancies do not necessarily equate to clocking.

What is clocking?

Clocking is the practice of tampering with a vehicle odometer in order to falsify the reading. Commonly the mileage is reduced to make the car look like it has been driven less than it actually has.

Why would someone clock a vehicle?

A vehicle can be clocked for a number of different reasons. Most often there is a nefarious purpose and that is to hide the true mileage from a potential buyer. A car can also have its odometer recalibrated if it has had an engine change. It can also be altered from miles to kilometers if it has been imported from the UK.

Is ‘clocking’ illegal?

Clocking or mileage recalibration as it is otherwise known is actually not illegal in Ireland. Clocking becomes illegal if the person knowingly sells the vehicle without disclosing the fact that the odometer was recalibrated.

Is car ‘clocking’ a criminal offense?

It is an offence under Irish law for a car trader to give false, misleading or deceptive information about any history of the car, specifically tampering with the odometer and giving false information about the car's mileage.

What is the average mileage of a vehicle?

The average mileage for a private car in Ireland is approximately 17,000 kilometres (10,500 miles) per year. Diesel cars used in business, for example, a company rep’s car could, on average, travel 24,000 kilometres (15,000 miles) per year.

What will a mileage check disclose?

A mileage check will disclose the recorded digitised mileage, the source of the reading and the date of each mileage entry.

Does a mileage discrepancy mean it is clocked?

A discrepancy does not necessarily mean that a vehicle has been clocked as discrepancies are very common for various reasons, most commonly, kilometre/mileage issues, human error etc.

Does the vehicle history check have NCT mileage?

Unlike the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) in the UK who share the MOT (Ministry Of Transport) mileage data, the National Car Test (NCT) Service, nor the Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Testing (CVRT) centres in Ireland share mileage data with any third party company, due to what they deem to be “Data Protection” concerns. 

Where else can I find out mileage for a vehicle?

If a vehicle has no digitised mileage record, you may want to check the service history book of the vehicle in question. You can also contact the garages that have stamped the service book to see if they have any further information about the vehicle. 

What should I do if there is a mileage discrepancy on the report?

You should first speak to the seller of the vehicle and ask to see the service record if this is available. This is usually the paper record in booklet form found in the glove compartment. You can also contact your history check supplier for further support.

What should you do if you have bought a clocked car?

We strongly advise that you seek advice from the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), if you have bought the car from a trader. If you have bought the car from a private seller, you may want to seek advice from both the CCPC and a solicitor. If you have been sold a clocked car you should act quickly as the CCPC cannot investigate a suspected clocked car if you have owned it for more than three years.

How easy is it to clock a car?

In one word; Simple. All modern vehicles have onboard computers and digital systems and it is very easy to connect to the vehicle’s computer via a laptop and use software to alter the odometer. There are certain unscrupulous individuals advertising online that will clock a car for a fee. 

How many cars are clocked in the UK?

It is estimated that one in 16 cars in the UK has a discrepancy and instances of this have increased by 25% since 2014. In the UK alone, more than 40% of car dealers have bought a second-hand car that was subsequently found to be clocked. As a result, it is also estimated that 10% of all vehicles imported into Ireland from the UK are clocked or unresolved discrepancies. 

What is the cost of car clocking?

It is estimated that £800 million every year is lost by the car sales industry and regular motorists because of clocking. The value of an average second-hand family car could actually increase by €2,000 - €5,000 if 90,000 kilometers is wiped off its odometer.


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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