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What Is Good Mileage For A Used Car?


Shopping for a used car these days can be a daunting, confusing experience. Buying a used vehicle has always been more complicated than buying new because there are many more variables to consider. For example, new cars arrive at dealerships with little or no miles on them, no previous owners, unworn parts, and mint condition interiors. Plus, there is a stated MSRP value for each make and model of new vehicle that is consistent across the board. Used vehicles, on the other hand, come with a history of one or more owners, existing mileage, worn parts, and unique maintenance histories that can influence their sticker price.

For most consumers in the market, low mileage used cars are ideal and mileage is one of the most important factors they look at. Of course, there are many other factors to consider when weighing what vehicle to buy, but mileage is among the best indicators of a vehicle's past life with previous owners and understanding how much life is left in the vehicle.

Car odometer reading 123456 miles

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, the average American driver puts about 13,500 miles on their vehicle each year. Keeping this stat in mind when shopping for used vehicles can help you ballpark whether a vehicle has "good" mileage or not. Simply multiply the age of the car by 13,500, then compare the number to the mileage on the car's odometer. If you find a vehicle that falls too far outside this range, either too high or too low, this can be a red flag.

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Another great stat from S&P Global is the average age of vehicles on the road, which is 12.5 years. Not only is this a record high for American drivers, but it indicates that vehicles are built to last longer than in the past. By multiplying the average age of vehicles on the road by the average miles driven per year, you can get an idea of the average mileage lifespan for most vehicles, which is 168,750 miles. Keeping this number in mind when shopping can give you an idea of the remaining lifespan for each vehicle. For example, if you're looking at a car with 110,000 miles on it, it's safe to bet that it's got about 58,000-60,000 miles left. At 13,500 miles driven per year, this means you can expect about 4 years of reliable utility.

Man and woman looking at car with a For Sale sign on windsheild

Of course, all these stats are simply barometers and should in no way be the sole basis of your decision whether to buy a used vehicle. How much mileage is too much for a used car will depend on your own personal transportation needs. But when used correctly, these stats can help you identify potential problems with used cars that will help you avoid a purchase you may regret down the road.

In closing, you should always fully vet any used vehicle before pulling the trigger on a purchase. Always have a used vehicle inspected by a trusted third party automotive professional to identify any lurking problems or potential expensive repairs. Your local mechanic is always here to inspect any vehicle you're considering purchasing before you buy.