What’s a Good Mileage for a Used Car? Here Are Essential Factors to Consider

Patrick Oziegbe
Published On:

Purchasing a used car can be an intelligent financial decision, but knowing what mileage is good for a used car or any pre-owned vehicle is essential.

Mileage plays a significant role in determining the car’s overall condition, performance, and potential lifespan.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, understanding the general guidelines can help you choose the right used car.

A good rule of thumb is considering the car’s age and current mileage. Experts suggest a used car should have approximately 12,000 miles per year of ownership.

For instance, a five-year-old car with around 60,000 miles would be considered to have good mileage. Remember that other factors, like the car’s make and how well it has been maintained, may also impact your decision.

What's a good mileage for a used car?

Key Takeaways

  • Aim for a used car with approximately 12,000 miles per year of ownership.
  • Consider the car’s age and maintenance history alongside its mileage.
  • The make and model can also influence the longevity and performance of a used car.

Understanding Mileage in Used Cars

It’s a common belief that lower mileage indicates a better deal, but it can also lead to misconceptions about good mileage for a used car.

I will help you make sense of car mileage and guide you in determining what’s best for your specific needs.

Average benchmark

CarFax says the typical rule of thumb is about 12,000 miles added per year of ownership. If you’re viewing a 5-year-old vehicle, around 60,000 miles is a good benchmark.

It is only an average, and actual numbers can vary depending on factors like car condition, maintenance, and driving habits.

RELATED: Read my latest guide on how to jump start a car with a battery. Also, discover how long do car batteries last.

High mileage cars

Now, let’s discuss high-mileage cars. While they may be more affordable, high-mileage cars may have potential issues. It doesn’t mean you should shy away from them.

Thorough research and a pre-purchase inspection can help you avoid potential problems. Sometimes, well-maintained high-mileage cars can be more reliable than low-mileage cars that have yet to be maintained well.

Low mileage

Speaking of low mileage, it’s worth noting that a shallow odometer reading can be suspicious. Keep an eye out for the average mileage per year as you evaluate used cars.

Cars driven significantly less than 10,000 to 12,000 miles per year may not be the best choice, especially if there’s a lack of maintenance records or evidence of consistent use.

Understanding that good mileage only sometimes guarantees a trouble-free used car is essential. Prioritize the car’s maintenance history, condition, and age alongside mileage.

It’s always best to consult a trustworthy mechanic or expert when you need clarification on a car’s proper condition.

How Many Miles is Good For A Used Car?

So, what is good mileage for used car? A common rule of thumb is that a good mileage for a used car is roughly 12,000 miles added each year of ownership.

For example, if you’re checking out a 5-year-old vehicle, it should have about 60,000 miles on it. 

Remember that cars with very low mileage sitting idle for long periods can be more problematic than vehicles with continuous use – even with 200,000 miles or more, as posited by Forbes.

As a friendly reminder, always look for a used car with mileage that fits your needs and budget.

RELATED: Is 150K miles on a car bad or not? Discover how many miles should a 8 year old car have to be consider reliable?

The Significance of Car Age and Model Year

Age of a car

The age of a car can impact the likelihood of needing more expensive and frequent maintenance. Typically, vehicles over 100,000 miles may require more care than newer, low-mileage vehicles.

It’s interesting to note that, according to S&P Global Mobility Reports, the average age of a car on U.S. roads reached 12.2 years in 2021 – a new high.

Model year

Now, let’s discuss the model year. An older model year may not have all the latest safety features or technological advancements, which could affect your overall driving experience.

However, take your time to dismiss older models, as some can still offer reliability and performance. Remember to keep in mind that a well-maintained vehicle might be a better choice despite its age or mileage.

So, when looking for a used car, please pay attention to the car’s age and model year. Balance the significance of these factors by considering your personal needs and preferences. 

Used Cars and Their Value

Experts agree that a good rule of thumb for mileage on a used car is about 12,000 miles per year of ownership.

So, if you’re looking at a 5-year-old vehicle, it should have around 60,000 miles.

Remember that depreciation is a critical factor in the used car market, which can affect the price. A car’s value decreases over time, and the rate at which this happens may vary.

The sweet spot for a used car is often when the depreciation rate has slowed down, making the vehicle more affordable.

Your budget is essential when determining the best-used car for you. Investigating the prices and finding the balance between an affordable price and a good-quality vehicle with reasonable mileage is crucial.

Maintaining your car is essential in keeping its value, regardless of how expensive or cheap it was initially. Regular maintenance can contribute to a better resale value in the future.

Reliability and Performance Assessment

First, check the car’s mileage. A good rule of thumb is 12,000 miles driven per year. For example, a 5-year-old vehicle should have about 60,000 miles on it.

Consider the make and model – some automakers are known for producing more reliable vehicles. For instance, a Honda Civic is generally known to last and reliable, while BMW vehicles might need more maintenance.

Lastly, please pay attention to the car’s powertrain, as it plays a crucial role in performance and reliability.

Evaluating the Vehicle Condition

Always inspect for signs of wear and tear or any past accidents. Obtaining a vehicle history report is an excellent way to learn more about the car’s past.

Carefully examine the odometer for any discrepancies. In a well-maintained car, the condition speaks more than just mileage. So, prioritize a thorough check and take your time to make an informed decision.

Maintenance and Repair Considerations

A well-maintained car with a higher mileage can sometimes be better than a low-mileage car without proper care. Let’s explore some factors that can affect your decision.

Maintenance history and service records

It’s crucial to check the car’s maintenance history and service records before purchasing.

Look for cars that have had regular oil changes, tire rotations, and replacement of wear-and-tear items like brake pads and timing belts.

A vehicle with a thorough service record often reflects responsible ownership and may need fewer repairs in the long run.

Check the cost

Cost is another vital factor in your decision-making process. Remember that while a low-mileage car might seem like a good deal, maintenance and repair costs can add up if the previous owner needs to take proper care of the vehicle.

For example, you might replace tires or brake pads sooner than expected. It’s a good idea to research the potential maintenance costs of specific models to help guide your decision.

Immediate maintenance needs

While inspecting the car, pay attention to any immediate maintenance needs, such as tires, brakes, or a timing belt replacement.

Ideally, you want a car where the previous owner has already addressed these issues, so you don’t need to spend extra money on repairs shortly after purchasing the vehicle.

Some models require more frequent or expensive maintenance, so factoring in those costs when assessing a used car is essential.

What can you afford?

Lastly, remember to consider your ability to handle repairs and maintenance. If you’re comfortable performing basic tasks like oil changes and tire rotations, you can save money by doing these yourself.

On the other hand, if you lack experience in car maintenance, choosing a low-mileage car with fewer immediate needs or one known for its reliability and low-cost repairs might be a good idea.

Used Car Selection By Types

When considering buying a used car, looking at the various types available is essential. For example, SUVs offer more space and versatility for families.

On the other hand, minis are perfect for city driving, thanks to their compact size and fuel efficiency.

If you’re looking for a greener option, consider electric vehicles (EVs). They produce fewer emissions and can save you money on fuel costs. However, always check their battery life and charging infrastructure before committing.

Remember: ultimately, your choice depends on your needs and preferences!

Understanding Fuel Economy

When looking for a used car, it’s essential to consider its fuel economy. Fuel-efficient vehicles save you money on gas and reduce environmental impact.

Generally, hybrid and electric vehicles provide the best fuel economy, but many gas-powered cars achieve over 30 miles per gallon (mpg).

To determine if a used car has good mileage, divide the odometer reading by the car’s age in years. For instance, if you find a 5-year-old car with 60,000 miles, it follows the rule of thumb of 12,000 miles per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are 70,000 miles too much for a used car?

No, 70,000 miles isn’t too much for a used car. Many vehicles can last well over 100,000 miles with proper maintenance. When evaluating its condition, it’s essential to consider other factors like the vehicle’s age, brand, and maintenance history. So, don’t hesitate to consider a used car with around 70,000 miles.

What mileage should a 3-year-old car have?

A 3-year-old car should ideally have about 36,000 miles on it, based on the average American driver covering 12,000 miles a year. However, it’s essential to consider the vehicle’s overall condition and other factors beyond mileage that may impact your decision.

How many miles is considered too high for a used car?

While there isn’t a specific number, it’s essential to consider the car’s age, brand, and maintenance history. Some vehicles can last up to 200,000 miles or more if properly maintained. It may be worth looking into a model’s reliability ratings and consumer reviews to gauge what mileage might be too high.

What are the risks of buying an old car with low mileage?

An old car with low mileage might seem like a great deal, but it can have its share of problems. Cars sitting idle for extended periods may develop issues due to lack of use. Inspecting the vehicle thoroughly, even if the mileage is low, is essential to ensure you’re aware of any potential problems.

Should I consider a car with 250,000 miles?

It depends on the specific car and its maintenance history. Certain models with excellent reliability and proper care can still provide value even at high mileage. Remember to take extra caution when inspecting the vehicle and consider the higher likelihood of repairs and maintenance.

What’s the expected mileage for a 2007 car in 2023?

Assuming an average of 12,000 miles per year, a 2007 car in 2023 would be 16 years old with an expected mileage of around 192,000 miles. However, this number can vary depending on car usage and factors like road conditions, maintenance, and driving habits.


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