Guide to Buying a High-Mileage Car

By CarMoney October 25, 2021
Guide to Buying a High-Mileage Car

Is it a bad idea to buy a car with high mileage? Not necessarily, as many cars are now built to go for thousands of miles without hardly stopping nowadays. You may be surprised, as cars with well over 100,000 miles on the clock could serve you well for thousands more! There is a stigma around high-mileage cars that they are, for some reason, to be avoided at all costs. This is simply not true, as miles on the clock does not necessarily mean it will be problematic. 

In fact, opting for a car with higher mileage can be a good way to find a great deal on a later model car that you might not be able to afford otherwise. Higher mileage also gives you bargaining room with the dealer, try to get a couple of pennies off! These cars have plenty of benefits, but what else should you be looking out for?

What is Considered High-Mileage?

When it comes to measuring if a car’s mileage is high or not, we have to look at the average number of miles that drivers do in the UK. Some studies suggest that British motorists on average do around 7,000 miles per annum. This means that any car that has exceeded this amount on a yearly basis can be considered high mileage. 

What Checks Should I Do?

There is always an element of risk when buying a high mileage car, as you are not sure of the life it has had, and if it has been well maintained. If you are buying a high mileage car, certain checks may be carried out to minimise risk:

  • After 50,000 miles the likes of the car’s cambelt may need to be checked/replaced as well as the wheel alignment. You can ask the dealer for proof these have been done. 
  • Coolant should be checked regularly and may need to be replaced if it has surpassed 125,000 miles. 
  • Spark plugs should be checked up on every 10,000 miles so be sure to look over these too as they may need to be replaced if the car has passed 100,000 miles. 
  • You should also take a good look at interior features. Look for scuff marks, scratches and fading colours as all these may also point towards a rougher lifestyle. 
  • It is also a good idea to get a history check done as this will tell you any accidents that particular vehicle has been in. 

Benefits of a High-Mileage Car

The main benefit of buying a higher mileage model is the fact you are probably getting it at a lower price tag. But it is worth bearing in mind that there is more risk of something going wrong or the car having a mechanical issue. Don’t let this put you off, as many dealers have very solid maintenance processes and return policies. 

Thanks to the internet, it is now possible to check any car’s full history with just the number plate! These are called HPI checks and can be done by a number of different websites. The more you know about the car, the more relaxed you will be throughout the whole buying process.

Another thing to keep in mind is that cars are meant to be driven, so high mileage shouldn’t worry you too much. Especially if the previous owner racked up most of those miles on longer motorway journeys. These types of drives put less wear and tear on the vehicle, whereas lots of short journeys around the town cause strain on the engine. 

Finally, higher mileage on older cars is a sign that they have been consistently used which is far better than not having moved much at all! Older vehicles you can sometimes find that have extremely low mileage for their age can be neglected. Low miles on an older vehicle can mean hidden issues or parts seizing up.

Drawbacks of a High-Mileage Car

The obvious drawbacks are that there is a higher chance of the car having serious problems. The more driving it has done, the more potential there is that it has had damage/mistreatment. 

You should research the buyer to try to get a better sense of how the car may have been driven. If you are planning on purchasing a car from a used-car seller, check if they have any bad reviews online. The cards are firmly in your hands, so never rush into buying a car, especially one with potentially expensive problems!

What is more Important – Mileage or Age?

The age of a car will usually be a good indicator of how many miles it may have done, but they do not always go hand in hand. As mentioned before, older cars that have surprisingly low mileage are probably best to avoid (not always though) as this can indicate a lack of use, which is far worse than overuse!

If an older car has been well maintained, has its full-service history and clears the HPI checks then you should be comfortable going ahead with the purchase. But always make sure to do your own checks (What checks should I do?).

In terms of importance, it is all down to you. If you have found an older model that you like, never let the age put you off. Remember, cars are designed to run for thousands of miles and many years! As long as it has been looked after properly, then this shouldn’t be in your thinking. 

Similarly, mileage can scare people away from buying a car when, realistically, there is nothing to be worried about. The overall condition of the car is a good indicator as to what kind of life the car has had. If the interior is worn badly, or there are marks all over the car, this is usually a good sign the previous owner may have not been great with the upkeep…

Do some models last longer than others?

In short, yes! Brands like Toyota, Hyundai and Skoda are renowned for their reliability and sturdiness. The infamous ‘Indestructible Hilux’ episode on Top Gear comes to mind, while Skoda’s have always rated highly on reliability scales. If the car comes with a fair-sized warranty, this is also a great indicator that the manufacturer has great belief in the build quality. 

This is only a rule of thumb, unfortunately, we cannot guarantee they won’t have issues! That is why it is vitally important to do your own checks before going ahead with any purchase. 

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