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how many miles on the clock? it's one of the most frequently asked questions on the forecourt

But how much does it actually matter? We take a look to see how many is too many.

April 22nd 2019 info

The age old question asked by nearly all used car buyers - does mileage matter?

Well, does it? In short, yes. In the world of used cars, it's true - two factors in particular will always play a role on the price you pay: mileage and age.

As a rule of thumb, higher mileage usually goes hand-in-hand with lower price. This is because key features like parts, suspension components and other mechanisms are created to last over certain periods of time. The longer a vehicle is used, the more wear and tear on these features.

But, while a ten-year-old car is almost always less expensive than a three-year-old car, it is important to consider its individual odometer and the type of miles that have been racked up, behind the wheel.

What type of mileage has the vehicle done?

A vehicle that has done the majority of its miles in a city locations will likely carry a lot more wear and tear in certain areas, than one that's mainly been used for motorway driving.

If the car you're interested in has been used for lots of short trips – its oil may not have been regularly given enough time to warm up before driving to these destinations, ultimately affecting the way it drives over time.

If the vehicle has been used for a lot of city driving, it's likely there will be more wear and tear within its clutch, gearbox, suspension and brakes, especially as most engine and gearbox wear takes place when the engine is cold – often taking place while stopping and starting.

On the other hand, a vehicle that has been frequently used for motorway driving will likely spend the majority of its life in fifth and sixth gear, on smooth surfaced roads. Cars that are used for these types of long-term journeys become more susceptible to clutch and brakes wear and tear but in comparison, breakdown far less frequently.

Try and get an idea of the kind of mileage a car has done in the past as early on in the buying process as possible. This can be difficult when buying used cars from a dealership, as you may not know much about the previous owner, but an up-to-date service history is always a good start.

How many miles is too many for a used car?

While mileage is an important factor to consider, the number of miles recorded is never an accurate impression of the vehicle you're looking at.

An example to think about is if the car you're looking at was manufactured in 2010, only has 60,000 miles on it but was never regularly maintained or shows minimal service history. Compare that to a vehicle that has 100,000 miles on the clock but is in great condition, and has a full service history with no real list of problems. As you can see, it's not all about miles on the clock!

Like we touched on before, remember to ask the owner or dealer of the vehicle about its mileage, highlighting whether they have primarily come from city or motorway driving based on any previous owner knowledge.

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