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What is Good Mileage for Used Cars? | Understanding the 12,000 Miles Rule


what is good mileage for used cars
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what is good mileage for used cars

Gearing up towards purchasing a new car, you are looking to land a used car this time? There are many factors to consider when buying a used car, and that is what is good mileage for used cars? Buying a new car requires patience and an eye for detail, so you do not settle for an unreliable car, which could be so much of a headache.

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The big question then is, what good mileage for used cars is? It is hard to determine what should be good mileage for used cars. Nevertheless, good mileage for used cars generally follows the rule of thumb of 12,000 miles per year. Hence, to determine if a car has good mileage, you multiply 12,000 by the car’s age.

It is a generally accepted claim that people typically drive cars for 12,000 miles per year. Following that claim, there is a determined amount of miles a car must have been driven for since it was bought before we can decide if it has enough mileage that is worth buying.

If you are looking to buy a used car and wondering how to go about it, or maybe you are more specific and need to know what good mileage for used cars is, then you have found the right resource. In this article, we would look at the exact figures that make up good mileage for a used car, how to determine the mileage of a used car, danger signs to adhere to when buying a new car as regards mileage, and a host of others.

What is Good Mileage for Used Cars?

Nobody wants to buy a car and not use it for as long as possible due to one failure or breakdown or the other. Everyone seeks longevity when they buy a product, and this is without the exemption of used cars.

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To determine what good mileage for used cars is, auto insurance companies and car dealers have postulated that cars are driven for 12,000 miles per year, and the average mileage of a car is 200,000 miles. That means good mileage for used cars would be anything below 100,000 miles.

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Earlier, I showed you that to know if a used car has good mileage, you multiply 12,000 by the car’s age. I am adding that when you do the multiplication, the value you should get as a mileage should not be above 100,000 miles since every car has a stipulated mileage of 200,000.

In essence, good mileage for used cars should be below 100,000 miles or slightly above that value. We are optimistic that anything below 100,000 miles since its purchase is good mileage for used cars because everyone expects that a car must have been driven for 12,000 miles per year, which means you have at least ten more years to make use at that rate of that vehicle.

Important Factors to Note in Determining Good Mileage for Used Cars

Determining good mileage for used cars is dependent on several factors. The 12,000 miles per year rule has been used as a determinant by both professionals in the automobile field and novices alike. Nevertheless, not every car’s longevity can be determined by its mileage alone. Hence, you may not get a good car judging by mileage alone.

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It is important to note that certain cars are designed to be long-lasting and durable. Cars made by Toyota, Honda, GMC, Subaru etc., are in this category as they are made to last longer and have good mileage even for used versions. If you are dealing with a car produced by these companies, you do not necessarily need to check the mileage to determine if it is worth buying but be sure to check it to be on the safe side.

Also, in determining what good mileage for used cars is, we may be overlooking the fact that an old car may not be sound in body and engine simply because it has low mileage. It is not mileage alone that determines if a used car is worth buying. Because a used car may have low figures on its odometer, but then it may have been parked for long and begun to weather and damage.

So, the mileage may be low, but the car’s physical structure may suggest it is not a good bargain. You may miss the big picture if you are solely concerned with a car’s mileage and determining if a particular used car makes the mark for good mileage for used cars.

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Do well to perform a thorough inspection on a car before agreeing to a deal. Such an inspection must go beyond just trying to determine if the car meets the stipulation of good mileage for used cars. Regardless of how many miles a car has gathered, its components start to fade and wear, affecting the longevity of a car.

Away from fading and wearing in used cars, it is important to note that when cars cross the 150,000 mileage, the piston ring seals in their engine becomes weaker. What this weakness results in is burning oil which is capable of making the engine fail ultimately. Unfortunately, replacing piston rings is one venture you would not like to undertake as it is time-demanding and very expensive.

Cars with a lesser mileage, say 100,000 to 80,000, may not suffer weak piston ring seals but may experience transmission failure, and when holistic maintenance is not put in place, the car may break down completely. If there is a transmission failure problem in a used car, the best solution is to get a transmission replacement, and there are several options to follow on that path.

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Broken timing belts, worn brake pads, and water pump leaks are some of the problems that a car with around 50,000 mileage may face. Well, these are not so much of an expense, and they are items that can be fixed in no time.

Next, we would be looking at how much mileage is too much for used cars.

How Much Mileage is Too Much for Used Cars?

how much mileage is too much for used cars

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It is a known fact, and like I pointed out earlier, it has become generally accepted that a car’s total mileage is at least 200,000 miles. With this in mind, we can place that 100,000 miles and anything below that is good mileage for used cars.

As for how much mileage is too much for used cars, without mincing words, anything above 140,000 mileage is too much for used cars. A car with over 140,000 mileage has a lifespan of barely five years or seven, depending on the new owner.

To be on the safe side, do not go for a car that has 140,000 mileage or more, as that is a benchmark for how much mileage is too much for used cars. However, a salient factor must be considered in determining how much mileage is too much for used cars, and that is the year of the car’s production.

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When it comes to the factor of production year, we will not use our 140,000 mileage as a judgment for how much mileage is too much for used cars. This is because a car may be produced in 2019 and has a mileage of 75,000 miles. Whether the car looks great on the outside, you are sure the engine and other internal parts of the car have to be pushed beyond their limits. A car like this should not have recorded up to 30,000 miles since 2019, but in this case, it has gone beyond that. It is a sign to show that the car has been overworked.

While a car may look new, if its engine is overworked, forget about the 140,000 mileage is too much for used cars theory. Do not go for such cars. Cars are expected to cover 12,000 miles per year, and when the odometer reads a figure that is way beyond the value of 12,000 multiplied by the car’s age, then the car may not be worth it.

What is Low Mileage for Used Cars?

what is low mileage for used cars

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Your choice of a used car should be one with low mileage as it has a higher potential to last longer. Of course, a low mileage car will potentially cost more than other cars, and this is because it has not been used so much.

Following the 12,000 miles per year rule, low mileage for used cars of three years should be 36,000 miles or below. This principle is generally used to determine low mileage for used cars. Any value that exactly matches the multiplication of 12,000 by the car’s age or something below that figure is a perfect low mileage for used cars.

For instance, a car that has been used for five years should have a mileage of 60,000 miles or below. A car of 10 years should not have more than 120,000 miles; else, it has crossed the mark of low mileage for used cars. There is no benchmark for what low mileage for used cars should be. Hence, it is important to be acquainted with the 12,000 miles per year rule and the car’s age.

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Before we wrap up this article on what good mileage for used cars is, let me provide answers to some of the frequently asked questions around the subject.

Frequently Asked Questions on what is a Good Mileage for Used Cars

The following are some of the frequently asked questions on the web regarding what a good mileage for used cars is. I have taken my time to provide concise and accurate explanations to offer answers and end controversies. Come along.

  1. Is 30,000 Miles Too Much Mileage for Used Cars?

A used car with 30,000 miles will not be a bad option if it has been on the road for at least four years. Thirty thousand miles will be too much mileage for a used car if the car has not been used for up to four years. A car with that amount of mileage and is barely three years old has been overworked, and there are chances some of its parts are fast wearing away.

  1. Is 40,000 Miles Too Much Mileage for Used Cars?

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A car with 40,000 mileage should have been used for not less than four years. If a car is barely three or two years of age, then 40,000 miles is too much mileage for it.

  1. Is 50,000 Miles Too Much Mileage for Used Cars?

Fifty thousand miles may not be too much mileage for a used car if the car has been used for a little above four years or anything below five years. You have a problem if the car has not been used for up to three years but has covered about 50,000 miles.

  1. Is 60,000 Miles Too Much Mileage for Used Cars?

You are definitely in for a good deal buying a car that’s five years and more and has a mileage of 60,000 miles. Sixty thousand miles is not too much mileage for used cars if the car has been used for five to seven years. Cars with low mileage would command a lot of money as their values would be high, so when you see a used car with low mileage, be ready for a bargain.

At What Mileage Should You Not Buy a Car?

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There is a general rule for used cars based on mileage, and it is typical to have a particular range of mileage where it is not safe to buy a used car—considering the 12,000 per miles theory, at what mileage should you not buy a car?

A used car that has gone more than 15,000 miles per year since it was purchased is a car you should not buy. Such a car may develop very serious mechanical problems as soon as you purchase it, which is not something you want. Hence, if, by your calculation, a used car has been used for more than 15,000 miles per year, you should not buy such a car.

Final Thoughts on what is a Good Mileage for Used Cars?

While we observe the mileage theory that suggests the multiplication of 12,000 by the car’s age, we must be wary that new model cars do not subscribe to this same philosophy. A car that was produced in 2018 should not have up to 40,000 miles on its odometer.

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So while you consider the readings on the odometer, a new model vehicle may not necessarily follow the 12,000 miles theory. Hence it would be best if you were quick to check the production year of a car as you consider buying it.

12 thoughts on “What is Good Mileage for Used Cars? | Understanding the 12,000 Miles Rule

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