Here’s How Long a Used Car Can Really “last”

Like almost any consumer product, the used car market has been crazy over the past few years. While used car prices are still up significantly, prices and demand seem to have come down a bit , and if you’re considering buying a used car, you might be wondering how to match current mileage to asking price and value.

A number of variables affect how long a high mileage car will perform well, including the make, model, and year of the car, its current condition, and its maintenance and driving history. Here’s what to consider when buying a used car.

How many kilometers will the car travel?

According to JD Power , cars made in recent years – with modern powertrains and cutting-edge technology – are capable of 200,000 miles or more if they’re in good condition. If you buy a used car with 100,000 miles on it and drive a typical 10,000-12,000 miles a year , that means you can get eight to ten more years of life out of that car.

However, vehicles that have been driven over 100,000 miles deserve closer attention as some parts begin to wear around this point, and a lack of regular maintenance in the early years of a vehicle’s life and mileage can lead to serious problems and significant costs. after this moment. .

In addition, a car with 150,000 miles that has been carefully driven and well cared for may be “younger” than a car with 100,000 miles that has not been serviced.

Old, rare, and vintage vehicles may not follow this guide, so if you’re thinking of buying a pre-2000s high mileage car as your primary vehicle, you should definitely have it checked out by a professional mechanic.

What to look for when buying a high mileage used car

Before buying, you will need to find out how well the car has been looked after, as well as several environmental factors. It’s also a good idea to have a professional mechanic do a full inspection.

Regular service history

Most vehicles require regular oil changes approximately every 10,000 to 15,000 miles , or once a year. Regular maintenance and component checks are also important and vary by make and model. Ideally, you’ll be able to review your car’s service records to ensure proper care.

You should also find out how many people have previously owned your vehicle. If you buy from the original owner, you will likely get more complete records and history than cars that have been transferred.

Major overhaul history

Auto parts don’t last forever, even if they’re in good condition. For example, timing belts may need to be replaced after 60,000-100,000 miles, brake pads between 30,000 and 70,000 miles, and brake discs after 120,000 miles. Transmissions can go 150,000 miles or more with regular maintenance.

Location and travel history

The climate in which vehicles are operated can also play a role in longevity. Cars with rust from salt and sand, and wear and tear from winter weather may require more maintenance than those that exist in mild weather. It may seem counterintuitive, but cars that have spent more time in storage can also be in worse condition than those that are regularly driven. You should also check the vehicle’s accident history (eg VIN check or CARFAX report).

Make and model

Again, while you can expect most modern cars to last a long time, it’s worth researching the make, model, and year of high mileage cars to learn about major maintenance trends, recalls, and driver feedback. Electric vehicles are also capable of surviving well beyond the 100,000 miles mark, but you need to check the battery and electrical system.

Warranty coverage

If a vehicle manufacturer warrants its vehicles up to 100,000 miles, you can be pretty confident about the life of the vehicle, although as we have noted, 100,000 miles is actually relatively low for today’s vehicles. While factory warranties don’t usually last longer, you can get third-party warranties for high mileage vehicles (these are likely to be expensive).

Finally, the main downside of driving a high mileage car is that repairs can end up being more costly than resale value, and you can end up investing a lot of money in a car with little time left. That’s why it’s important to know your service history.


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