How Many Miles Should a Used Car Have?

Cars in the US are approximately 12 years old. If you know that the average mileage is usually from 12,000 to 15,000 miles (19,500 – 24,000 km) per year, you can quickly calculate if the mileage fits the car year.

When you choose among two vehicles with similar characteristics, you may think that the car having 50,000 miles (80,500 km) is a better option than the one driven almost 150,000 miles. Is that really so? Let’s take a closer look at the question of how many miles should a used car have.

The Ideal Number of Miles A Used Car Should Have

As I have already said, the average norm for a used car is about 12,000 miles (19,500) per year, but it can be tricky since some models are more durable than others. Therefore, you should check a few more things before buying a vehicle.

The factory warranties

Keep in mind that the factory warranty will expire after 36,000 miles (58,000 km) in most cases. It is an essential piece of information you should check since the rate of mechanical failure usually increase after that period.

Also, keep in mind that quite expensive services are usually required between 30,000 and 40,000 miles (48,300 – 64,500 km). That is the reason why the vehicle history report and mileage are so important.

Mileage verification

Mileage verification

Don’t forget to verify the mileage before buying, just in case. It may happen that the odometer of a vehicle with high mileage readings was rolled back right before selling.

Therefore, ask for a vehicle history report to protect yourself against the fraud. The report will contain data about repair visits and odometer readings in a reputable service. At the same time, take a look at the number of previous owners, possible damage, and reported accidents.

The type of mileage

You should also consider a car that some traveling sales representative or real estate agent has been driving for just a few years. Even though the number on the odometer is high, they are mostly highway miles.

For example, a car with 100,000 miles (161,000 km) from highway driving is often in a better condition than the one with 50,000 miles (80,500 km), mainly used in city driving.

Maintenance records

Always research the intervals between two services in detail. Be careful when the time of a service milestone for the car you want to buy is nearing. It is not directly related to the condition of the vehicle, but with extra costs, you should count on.

Try to purchase a car serviced regularly after passing:

  • 3,000 miles (4,800 km)
  • 6,000 miles (9,650 km)
  • 12,000 miles (19,300 km)
  • 15,000 miles (24,000)
  • 30,000 miles (48,300 km)
  • 40,000 miles (64,400 km)
  • 45,000 miles (72,400 km)
  • 60,000 miles (96.500 km)
  • 100,000 miles (161,000 km)

Unless you need a cheap vehicle for local use, avoid a car traveling more than 130,000 miles (209,000 km) without excellent recommendation and precise documentation.

Over 100,000

A few decades ago, no one wanted to consider buying a car with 100,000 miles (161,000 km). Nowadays, the quality of vehicles is improved, and they may still be reliable even after passing over 300,000 miles (485,000 km).

However, this particular number has a psychological significance, and you can bargain, especially with a private dealer, when he or she offers a car with such high mileage. If the vehicle has excellent service records, you shouldn’t pass this buying.

Models of the car that run longest

According to a respectable Forbes’ analysis, cars recognized for endurance and longevity are:

  • Chevrolet Avalanche
  • Toyota Scion
  • Lexus RX 350
  • Acura RDX
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • 4Runner
  • Mazda MX-5
  • Toyota RAV4

You should keep this information in mind before picking out the best car for you and your family. Even though the mileage is one of the essential items to consider, be aware that these vehicles will outlast the competition regardless of the number of miles traveled.

Look inside

Look inside

If you are not sure about the way the previous owner has taken care of the car you want to buy, always take a look at the vehicle’s interior.

If the dashboard is well-maintained and upholstery is not torn and full of stains, there is a real possibility that the engine is in a decent condition, as well.

The previous owner(s)

More owners – Be careful if the car you want to buy had a few owners, although it is about an excellent, just about ten years old brand passing only 90,000 miles (145,000 km).

There are a few reasons why many people changed that particular car. Maybe the first owner didn’t take care of it carefully, or fuel consumption is too high.

In some cases, car parts and services are too expensive, or maintenance records miss. Whatever the reason is, you should pass a vehicle with such a history.

One owner – the first advice you will get once deciding to buy a used car will be to look for a ‘granny’ one. The reason is simple. Women are more careful drivers who are not prone to accidents so much.

Also, there is a possibility that an elder couple had that vehicle for years. Such a car often has no more than 30,000 miles (48.300 km) on the odometer, which means that it passed from 2,500 to 3,000 miles (4,000 – 4,800 km) per year.

Most of them are garaged and maintained regularly. Of course, there is a threat of rust, weak battery, or dried-out oil seals, but an excellent auto mechanic will quickly solve these problems.

Rental cars – These vehicles are cheap, but with high mileage. On the other hand, they are well-maintained and not too old. Since these cars are adequately reconditioned, you may get the best value for a low price.


In the end, I can tell you one thing. When you decide to buy a used car, you shouldn’t think just about the number of miles it has passed. The right question is how much mileage you will get out of that particular vehicle.

Nowadays, you can find a well-maintained car manufactured in the 1970s with 500,000 miles (805,000 km) passed. On the other hand, there are a few years old vehicles in an inferior condition. As you can see, it is not just a matter of a number on the odometer, but it depends on a lot of things.