How Much Mileage Is Too Much When Buying a Used Car?

How Much Mileage Is Too Much When Buying a Used Car?

June 7, 2019    Auto News

When buying a used car, checking the mileage is an important step. Learn how much mileage is too much before making your next used car purchase.


What is year to mileage ratio for a used car?

The year to mileage ratio measures the number of miles a used car averages each year. On average, Canadian drivers rack up 20,000 kilometers or around 12,427 miles on the road each year.

So, assuming a used vehicle is 10 years old, it might be expected to have around 124,270 miles on it. Whether a used car is considered high mileage or not depends largely on the year to mileage ratio.

Take a five-year-old used vehicle with 100,000 kilometers (or just over 62,000 miles). That works out to 20,000 km per year on average, so not too bad.

Now, assume you have a three-year-old used car with the same mileage. The average annual mileage is around 33,333 km or 20,712 miles.

Understanding the year to mileage ratio is important for getting an idea of how long the vehicle will last. In the previous example, the second car may have a shorter life span than the first one if higher mileage means more wear and tear on the engine.

Pros and cons of purchasing car with high vs. low mileage

When it comes to buying a car with low mileage, the pros are obvious:

  • Potentially less wear and tear, which could help the vehicle last longer
  • It may have a higher resale value if you decide to trade it out for something else

But, you might pay more for a lower mileage vehicle than you would a higher mileage one. Dealers might apply a lower sticker price to a used car that’s been driven more often. That can save you money and make buying a used car more budget-friendly.

The downside, of course, is that a used car with higher mileage could require more maintenance and upkeep. If the car ends up having a major mechanical issue related to higher miles, that could wipe out any savings you got by paying a lower price for it.

Even if you don’t have those kinds of headaches, a higher mileage used car could offer less trade-in value if you decide to upgrade to a different car.

How to shop for a used car

If you’re ready to buy a used car, there are few things to know beforehand to make sure you get the best results possible. Keep these tips handy, especially if you’re considering a used car with high mileage:


  • Check the car’s overall condition. Mileage alone isn’t enough to make a decision about a used car. Check the maintenance history if those records are available, ask about its accident history and give the outside a thorough once-over. Consider getting a mechanic to take a look under the hood to make sure all the moving parts are in good shape.
  • Take it for a test drive before you buy. Getting behind the wheel and going for a test drive can give you an idea of how the car handles. It’s also a chance to listen for any unusual sounds or noises that could indicate a mechanical problem.
  • Get an accurate estimate of its value. The dealer’s going to try to sell you a used car at one price but don’t agree to it without knowing what the car is truly worth. Check Canadian Black Book to get a sense of a used vehicle’s value.
  • Decide how much you want to spend. Once you know what a used car is worth, consider whether that’s an amount you can and want to pay. Work up a car buying budget that includes your down payment and monthly payment so you know exactly what’s affordable.
  • Consider the long term costs of owning a used car. If you’ve checked out the car’s mileage and condition, think about what it might cost you to keep it maintained and repaired going forward. Then, go back to your budget to see if you have some additional wiggle room for those costs.


Choose the right dealer and lender when buying a used car

Where you buy a used car from and your choice of lender matters. At Birchwood Credit Solutions, you’ll find an extensive inventory of new and used vehicles, including trucks, vans and SUVs.

Additionally, Birchwood Credit Solutions also provides vehicle financing for new and used car buyers. Reach out today to learn what financing options are available and get your next used car purchase underway.

It takes just two minutes to complete our online application and find out if you qualify for vehicle financing through Birchwood Credit Solutions. We help buyers with a variety of credit backgrounds, including those who are newcomers to Canada or have negative credit history.

Rebecca Lake
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