Does age or mileage matter when buying a used vehicle?

Buying a used vehicle
Buying a used vehicle

In the market for a used vehicle? If so, you’ve most likely heard the terms mileage and age tossed around. These are important variables to consider when looking at used vehicle inventory. However, you may be curious as to which one is more important. 

In this article, we’ll explore and answer that prodding curiosity, so that you can show up at your used vehicle dealership in Evansville, IN, and make the best choice for your next automobile. 

Mileage: Why It Matters

Mileage represents the amount of – you guessed it – miles driven by an automobile. In layman’s terms, mileage is important because it provides purchasers with an insight into a secondhand vehicle’s “past life” if you will. Generally, more mileage on a hand-me-down vehicle means it will be more inclined to have indicators of depreciation. 

But a vehicle that has logged considerable mileage isn’t always in a deficient condition when compared to a car with lower mileage. Mileage is simply a single variable (out of many) that can impact an automobile’s overall performance and condition. 

When on the market for a used vehicle, keep the following in mind:

Landscape and Usage

Where have former owners driven the vehicle and how often was it used? Even if two kindred trims display similar mileage figures, a vehicle that has been navigated mainly through residential areas will – generally speaking – be in a superior shape than a car that has gone through hell and back on countryside dirt roads and rugged landscapes.

Be cautious of commuter vehicles utilized to traverse through large cities as well. Looking at it long term, the on-again-off-again traffic of congested cities can be harsher on a vehicle’s motor than extensive, lengthy cruises on freeways.

And lastly, be wary of anybody bartering an older vehicle with a remarkably reduced mileage number. Now, it is true the more you use a vehicle, the better the chance is for its pieces to become impaired due to wear and tear, but the opposite isn’t undoubtedly better for the vehicle either. Keeping an automobile out of commission for too long may result in an accumulation of decay in the motor. 

Upkeep and Restoration

Regular maintenance is just as crucial as mileage. Make certain the former owner was scrupulous with oil changes, tire upkeep, and battery renewals – and try to see if they were steady about these regular upkeep procedures as well. Usually, an older vehicle can go in for repairs after 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 25,000, 50,000, 70,000, 90,0000, as well as 160,000km.

Refuse to settle for economical, low mileage vehicles in need of “fast” repairs as well. If the former owner was unable to locate a long-term fix for the impairment, the chances are you won’t either, which means you’ll be left with a hand-me-down vehicle that’s simply collecting dust while sitting in your driveway.

Try asking for the vehicle’s ID number – this is akin to a vehicle’s fingerprint, which provides you entry to the car history documentation. The document will offer a brimming outline of the vehicle’s history. 

How Age Impacts a Vehicle

Similar to mileage, a vehicle’s age will reveal a lot regarding its condition – but on that same token, that shouldn’t be the final measure that determines your decision on whether or not to purchase the car.

Age impacts cars in a multitude of fashions. Firstly, an older model will more than likely be more roughed up compared to a new car, this is common sense. Time, usage, and subjection to the outside world will naturally wear away at its parts. 

Purchasing an old vehicle also entails compromising on some attributes, from protection features that are only in more modern trims, to more refined cruise control mechanics. A more contemporary trim of the same vehicle may even possess a superior fuel economy than its precursors.

Lastly, age carries a substantial impact on a car’s value. Vehicles cheapen quickly. As a matter of fact, a brand new vehicle devalues the moment you drive it off the dealership’s lot. After a year, a new vehicle loses 20 to 30 percent of its initial value. After five years, that vehicle may have lost as much as 60 percent of its original sales price.

What’s a Good Amount of Mileage for a Secondhand Vehicle?

The typical mileage a year is about 24,000km.

To discover the normal mileage for an older car, multiply the vehicle’s age by 24,000 and then contrast that answer to the figure displayed on the odometer. An additional way to do this is to divide the vehicle’s odometer display by the age of the car. If it’s above 24,000, the car could be thought of as high-mileage.

However, you may be wondering: is there a “cap” on the mileage you should have in mind? Some vehicle fanatics think a car’s mileage shouldn’t go over 160,000km. But, it’s worth mentioning that progress in manufacturing and secure technology permits modern vehicles to go far beyond their precursors prior to reaching their restrictions. In years past, vehicles could sustain enormous amounts of abuse after a single year of use on the road. Presently, a one-year-old vehicle can match a brand new vehicle in pretty much every capacity, due to the production of more cost-effective and more enduring parts for the vehicle.

The Ideal Age to Purchase a New Vehicle

As already stated, vehicles lose as much as 60 percent of their value in the first few years of being on the road. With that being the case, it’s a good idea to buy a car that’s about one to five years old, and reaches a typical mileage of around 24,000km. By about the fourth, maybe, the fifth year, the car typically loses its initial warranty, this entails you may experience extra costs for upkeep and restoration. 

And while purchasing an older vehicle could result in a better deal due to depreciation, you should be careful not to get a model that’s too old. As a vehicle devalues with time, it reaches a juncture where it’s not worth much of anything, this makes it more difficult to sell when you no longer want it and makes it more of a hindrance rather than a resource.

Mileage: Is It More Important Than Age?

Simply put: no. There isn’t a transparent victor in the war of mileage vs age. The reason being is that when you’re looking for a secondhand vehicle, you don’t singlehandedly prop your final choice on either option. You must view a vehicle’s overall shape, history, upkeep and repair documentation, etc.

You have to look where and how the car was utilized and treated – different landscapes, weather conditions, and prevalence of usage all impact a car in many ways. Additionally, make certain the car has gone through rigorous and repetitive upkeep. Always ask for the car’s upkeep history and receipts for its services from vendors and salesmen as well. Or even better, get a technician to do an entire examination of the car to probe for any non-declared impairments and problems.

When it’s all said and done, both age and mileage are crucial benchmarks for determining the quality of hand-me-down vehicles – but neither is a final, arbitrating decision as to whether a trim is worthy of the purchase.

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