Life Style

Does Mileage Matter When Buying a Used Car?

You may be blissfully unaware, but an endless debate rages among used-car watchers over the significance of low mileage. Some say it's the current condition that really matters, while others rejoin that if a car doesn't have low mileage, it's not worth buying at all. If you're buying a used car, it's crucial that you understand the arguments on both sides. Follow along with our in-house experts as they explain the pros and cons of low-mileage used cars.

Pros

1

Less Wear and Tear

We want to stress that this is only theoretically true; even a car with very low mileage can turn out to be a total beater if it hasn't been cared for properly. But all else being equal, lower miles mean you can expect a longer life from most components, which helps keep ownership costs down. Also, many cars have transmissions that are known to go south around a certain mileage, for example, or oil leaks that start cropping up when the odometer hits six figures. The lower your initial mileage, the longer you have till you hit those not-so-magic numbers.

2

Higher Resale Value

If you expect to sell the car at some point, resale value is an important consideration, and nothing props up that value like low mileage. Just take a look at some of our classified ads; almost every seller advertises low mileage, even when that's obviously not the case. Here's the best way to think about it: If you buy a car with very low miles, it'll still have low miles a few years down the road. Accordingly, you might be able to sell it for around the same price you paid, or possibly at a profit if you made a really good deal in the first place. That's less likely to happen with a higher-mileage car, unless it has such a golden reputation for reliability (e.g., older Toyota Land Cruisers) that the market considers miles largely irrelevant.

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