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Used Car Mileage And How It Affects Buying a Car

Used Car Mileage And How It Affects Buying a Car

Buying a used car can be a great way to save money compared to purchasing new. However, one key factor to consider is the mileage, or number of kilometers, on the vehicle. This helps determine how much life and value are left. So how many kilometers on a used car is too much?


Mileage is often a top concern for used car buyers. Higher mileage typically means more wear and tear, a higher chance of repairs, and faster depreciation. But does a specific number of kilometers definitively mean a car should be avoided? Not necessarily. With proper maintenance and care, some vehicles can rack up high mileage and still have plenty of good years left.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what constitutes low, average, and high mileage for used cars. We’ll discuss why mileage matters, along with other equally important factors to weigh. You’ll learn when higher mileage vehicles can still be solid purchases, along with tips for evaluating any used car’s condition. Let’s dive in.

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What is Considered Low Mileage

When looking at used cars, mileage under 100,000 km is generally considered low. This means the vehicle has not been driven a significant amount over its lifetime and likely has plenty of good years left. For most models, going under 100,000 km indicates the car has been well cared for and has not been used heavily day-to-day.

Some guidelines for low mileage by vehicle age:

 

  • 1-5 years old – Under 40,000 km
  • 5-10 years old – Under 80,000 km
  • 10-15 years old – Under 120,000 km

 

Of course, well-maintained vehicles can still have plenty of life left in them beyond these mileage markers. But for used car buyers looking for the most value, staying under 100,000 km is a good target.

 

Average Mileage

Average mileage for a used car typically falls between 100,000 – 200,000 km. This range is considered normal and acceptable for most models across different age ranges. Many cars can reliably reach 200,000 km or more with proper maintenance and care.

At around 100,000 km, some major maintenance items like timing belts and water pumps may be coming due depending on the make and model. But the engine and drivetrain components should not yet show significant wear if properly maintained. Interior condition may start to show some signs of use, but overall the car should still have plenty of life left.

As mileage approaches 200,000 km, more repairs may be looming such as suspension bushings, wheel bearings, radiators, sensors and emission components. Certain high wear items like brake pads and rotors will likely need replacement if not addressed already. But with a robust maintenance history, these repairs are manageable.

The 200,000 km mark is not an automatic deal breaker, but it’s important to assess maintenance records and thoroughly inspect vehicle components. Cars reaching this mileage range may start to show their age in other ways beyond just the engine and drivetrain. But they can still have lots of good miles ahead with proper upkeep.

 

High Mileage

Over 200,000 km is typically considered high mileage for a used vehicle. Once a car surpasses this threshold, it is generally thought to have more wear and tear and be closer to requiring major repairs or replacement of components like the transmission or engine.

However, not all high mileage vehicles are created equal. Much depends on how well the car was maintained and driven over its lifetime. Certain brands and models are engineered to better withstand high mileage driving. Luxury vehicles in particular can sometimes run well past 200,000 km if properly cared for.

The key is to look at factors beyond just the odometer reading when evaluating a high mileage used car. Carefully examine the maintenance records, have a mechanic inspect it, and test drive it thoroughly. With the right history and condition, a car can potentially be a good value even with over 200,000 km.

 

Why Mileage Matters for Used Cars

When buying a used car, one of the most important factors to consider is the mileage or total number of kilometers driven. There are several key reasons why higher mileage negatively impacts used vehicles:

 

More Miles Means More Wear and Tear

The more kilometers a vehicle has been driven, the more wear and tear it has endured. Parts like the engine, transmission, suspension, tires, and brakes experience more use over time. This increases the likelihood of breakdowns, repairs and part replacements needed. The “sweet spot” is typically around 100,000-150,000 km where reliability remains but costs start going up.

 

Impacts Resale Value

Used cars with higher mileage depreciate in value faster than lower mileage examples of the same make/model/year. The more kilometers, the lower the resale value. This is because buyers associate higher mileage with more maintenance, repairs and shorter remaining lifespan. Most people shopping for used cars prefer lower kilometers.

 

Indicates Vehicle Care and Use

Higher mileage may indicate a vehicle that was not well cared for or was used extensively for commuting long distances. This can cause faster wear and tear. Lower mileage suggests the vehicle may have been better maintained and driven less regularly. However, maintenance history is still critical to examine.

 

Maintenance Over Mileage

When it comes to buying a used vehicle, a car’s service history and maintenance records should take priority over mileage. The number of kilometers on the odometer does not tell the whole story of how well a vehicle was cared for. Regular maintenance is critical to ensure longevity and reliability, even on high mileage vehicles.

Look for maintenance invoices showing regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotations, brake pad replacements, timing belt changes, and other scheduled service. Try to find vehicles with complete service records from the time they were new. Gaps in service history or lack of receipts for maintenance work should raise some red flags.

Inspections and repairs over the years also indicate the previous owner was diligent about upkeep. Look for records of major repairs, especially on engine and transmission components. While repairs can be costly, they show issues were identified and addressed before causing larger problems. This level of care reduces risks when buying higher mileage used cars.

When evaluating potential purchases, take time to assess the overall condition and mechanical health. Test drives, inspections, and diagnostics from a trusted mechanic should provide insight beyond just the odometer reading. Well-maintained cars with higher mileage can be smarter buys than low mileage cars that were neglected.

 

When Higher Mileage Cars Can Be a Good Value

While lower mileage is typically preferred when buying a used car, there are situations where a higher mileage vehicle can still be a smart purchase. One case is when comparing one-owner personal vehicles versus former fleet and rental cars. Fleet vehicles are often driven by multiple drivers and can rack up mileage quickly. They may not receive the same consistent maintenance and care compared to a vehicle owned and driven by a single person. Therefore, a higher mileage one-owner car with full service records can be a much better buy than a lower mileage fleet vehicle without that maintenance history. The personal owner is more likely to have treated the car well and maintained it properly throughout its life. So mileage alone doesn’t tell the whole story – ownership and maintenance records are key as well.

 

Newer Models and Reliable Makes

Certain newer vehicle models and more reliable makes/models can often withstand higher mileage and last longer. For example, a 2018 Toyota Camry with 250,000 km could still have a lot of life left if properly maintained. This is because Toyota has a reputation for reliability and durability. Newer models also tend to use improved engineering and technology that allows engines, transmissions and other components to hold up better over time.

In general, Japanese and Korean brands like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia are known for good reliability at higher mileages. American brands like Ford and GM have improved in recent years, but still may not go as far as Asian counterparts. European luxury brands can also have very robust drivetrains capable of high mileage, but maintenance costs are higher.

So when evaluating a higher mileage used car, focus on newer models from makers with solid reputations for durability. Do research on the specific model year and engine to determine if it’s built to last. Things like timing belts instead of chains, turbochargers, and CVT transmissions can impact longevity as well. While nothing lasts forever, choosing the right make and model can help ensure a high-mileage car still has abundant useful life.

 

When Higher Mileage Luxury Cars Can Be a Good Value

Luxury vehicles are designed and built to maintain their performance and integrity over higher mileages. The engines, transmission, interior materials and overall vehicle components are made to precise specifications for optimal longevity. As a result, certain luxury makes and models may still represent a good value even with over 200,000 km on the odometer.

While any used vehicle purchase requires thorough inspection and evaluation, higher mileage luxury cars can provide an opportunity to get into a premium brand at an affordable price point. For example, vehicles like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Acura are engineered to easily reach over 300,000 km with proper maintenance. So finding an option under $20,000 with 250,000 km can deliver the luxury experience on a budget.

Additionally, many luxury vehicles are purchased new and babied by their original owners. They follow strict maintenance schedules and are traded in for a newer model before any major repairs are needed. This leaves well-kept luxury cars on the used market with higher mileage but plenty of good years left.

The key is to focus on maintenance records, accident history, overall condition and mechanical inspections. But with the right research and evaluation, higher mileage luxury vehicles can be an excellent value for budget-minded buyers wanting premium features and branding.

 

Do a Thorough Inspection Regardless of Mileage

When shopping for a used vehicle, it is important to do a thorough inspection of the car regardless of the mileage. This includes taking a test drive to assess the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and other mechanical components. Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations that could indicate issues. Test all features and electronics to make sure they are functioning properly.

Additionally, you’ll want to do a visual inspection of the entire vehicle. Look for any signs of damage, rust, paint issues or evidence of accidents. Check that panels align properly and gaps are consistent. Examine the tires for wear and age. Look under the vehicle for leaks or damage. Check all fluids to ensure they are at proper levels and not discolored.

As mileage increases, it also becomes even more critical to have a trusted, independent mechanic do a pre-purchase inspection. They will put the vehicle up on a lift and do a comprehensive evaluation of all systems. This professional assessment will help identify any problems or needed repairs. It provides peace of mind that you understand the true condition before purchasing the used vehicle.

 

Reliable High Mileage Models

Certain makes and models are known for their longevity and ability to rack up high mileage with proper maintenance. Toyota and Honda, for example, are renowned for building cars that can easily reach over 300,000 km if well cared for. Their engines and transmissions are designed for durability and reliability over many years of service. Other makes like Subaru, Mazda, and Nissan also have models that can go the distance with routine upkeep and repairs.

When looking at higher mileage used vehicles, it’s wise to focus your search on these tried-and-true reliable brands. Models like the Toyota Corolla, Camry, RAV4, Honda Civic, Accord, CR-V, Subaru Outback, Forester, Impreza, Mazda3, Mazda6, and Nissan Altima and Maxima are good options. Their well-earned reputations for longevity make them lower-risk purchases even with over 200,000 km on the odometer. As long as maintenance records show proper care, these vehicles have a good chance of providing many more years and kilometers of solid performance.

 

Consider Past Use

Not all kilometers are equal. Highway driving tends to put far less wear and tear on a vehicle compared to stop-and-go city driving. The constant acceleration and braking in urban environments is harder on the engine, transmission, and other components. Highway miles are much easier on the drivetrain.

So a car with 200,000 kms that was mainly used for highway trips as a sales rep’s vehicle could easily have less wear than a city commuter car with only 100,000 kms. Check the maintenance records and history to get a sense of the type of driving the previous owner did. This can give you a better idea of the actual condition and remaining life of the vehicle.

 

Well Maintained Examples

There are certainly some high mileage used cars that can still be reliable and good value, provided they have been well cared for. For example, some Toyota Camrys, Honda Civics, and Subaru Outbacks are known to easily reach over 300,000 km or more if properly maintained. The key is finding an example where the previous owner(s) kept diligent with scheduled maintenance like oil changes, fluid flushes, timing belt/chain replacements, etc.

One specific example would be a 2008 Toyota Camry with 350,000 km that has full service records from the start. If the carfax shows it was serviced at the dealer every 5,000-10,000 km, had major items like the timing belt done at the recommended intervals, and passes an independent inspection, it could still have plenty of life left despite the high odometer reading. This is because it was clearly well cared for. The same goes for a 2011 Honda Civic at 250,000 km with invoices showing strict maintenance – it could still be a smart purchase.

The key is doing your homework and getting maintenance records. Well cared for cars, especially known durable models, can absolutely go the distance to 300,000+ km and beyond. So shop smart and don’t automatically discount a car just because it has high mileage. The condition and maintenance history matters more.

 

Cost Factor

Higher mileage cars can often be much more affordable than their lower mileage counterparts. For some buyers, especially those on a tight budget, the lower price tag may outweigh concerns over higher mileage.

A car with 150,000 km on it could potentially cost thousands less than an identical model with only 50,000 km. For many shoppers, those savings make a higher mileage vehicle an attractive option.

Additionally, the rate of depreciation tends to slow down on vehicles with over 150,000-200,000 km. While a lower mileage car will continue to lose value quickly, a higher mileage one has often already taken the biggest hit on depreciation.

This means buyers can get more value for their money buying a used car with more km. The purchase price better reflects the actual remaining useful life, compared to a lower mileage car that still has significant depreciation ahead.

For budget-focused buyers who plan to drive the vehicle until it has very high mileage anyway, a car with 150,000+ km often delivers excellent value. As long as maintenance costs are affordable and major issues are addressed, the lower upfront cost can make higher mileage vehicles a smart money choice.

 

Assess Condition Carefully

When evaluating used cars, condition and maintenance should take priority over mileage. The key is to look beyond the odometer reading to assess how well the vehicle was cared for and its current state. Some tips for careful inspection include:

 

  • Test drive to check engine performance, transmission shifting, brakes, suspension and more.
  • Look for any leaks, rust, paint flaws, accident damage or other cosmetic issues.
  • Inspect tires for wear and age cracks.
  • Check all electronics, lights, seat controls and features.
  • Review maintenance records for oil changes, tune-ups, brake work and repairs.
  • Have a mechanic do a pre-purchase inspection to identify any problems.

 

A car with higher mileage but impeccable maintenance and no issues found on inspection can be a much better buy than a lower mileage car that was neglected and needs major repairs. Focus your analysis on the overall condition rather than just the odometer reading.

 

Conclusion

When buying a used vehicle, mileage is an important factor to consider but should not be the sole determinant. While lower miles are preferable, maintenance history, vehicle condition, past use and care are more indicative of how much life a car has left.

Do your due diligence with thorough test drives and inspections, review maintenance records, and consider the reputation of the make and model. With the right research and examination, higher mileage vehicles that have been properly maintained can still have plenty of good years and value left. However, excessive mileage does increase the risk of repairs, so factor that into your budget.

Overall, let mileage guide you but not rule you. As long as you carefully assess the full history and current state of any used car, you can feel confident in finding a reliable vehicle, regardless of the odometer reading.

 

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Questions About How Kilometres Effects Buying a Used Car

A used car with over 250,000 kilometers is generally considered high mileage in Canada. However, the acceptable mileage depends on factors like the make, model, year, condition, maintenance records, and price of the vehicle. Well-maintained luxury vehicles can still be reliable at 300,000+ kilometers. But for most regular cars, it’s best to stay under 200,000 kilometers.



For a 5 year old used car in Canada, a reasonable mileage is around 100,000 kilometers. This averages out to about 20,000 kilometers per year, which is common usage. Some 5 year old cars could have slightly less or more kilometers, but the 100,000 km mark is reasonable if the vehicle was properly maintained.

No, 150,000 kilometers is not too high for a used Honda Civic in Canada, provided it was properly maintained. The Civic is known for reliability and many can reach over 300,000 km if cared for. At 150k, important things are maintenance records, overall condition, accident history and a pre-purchase inspection. If those check out, the Civic still likely has years left.

When buying a high mileage used car in Canada, important things to look out for include:

 

– Maintenance records and regular oil changes

– Signs of accident damage or rust

– Engine noises, leaks, issues shifting gears

– Tire wear and condition of brakes/suspension parts

– Test drive for any odd vibrations, pulling, smells

– Have a pre-purchase inspection done by a mechanic

 

Proper care history is key. Avoid cars with spotty service records. The higher the kms, the more crucial that maintenance was kept up.



Yes, an 8 year old Toyota Corolla in Canada with 195,000 km can be a good buy if it was properly maintained. The Corolla is renowned for reliability, especially when given regular maintenance. At that mileage, be sure to check service records, inspect thoroughly test drive, and have a trusted mechanic verify its condition. If it checks out, it could easily last several more years.

Signs that a high mileage used car was well maintained in Canada include:

 

– Complete maintenance logs and repair invoices at dealerships

– Regular oil changes every 5,000-8,000 km

– Brand name tires in good condition

– No visible leaks underneath the vehicle

– Clean interior without significant wear

– Good vehicle history and no accidents

 

Proper care and maintenance is key to high mileage vehicles lasting many additional years and kilometers. These signs help identify cars more likely to be reliable.

While 300,000 kilometers is getting up there for a 10 year old Toyota Camry, it may still have life left if properly maintained. High mileage Camrys are common in Canada. Make absolutely sure you get complete service records. Check engine compression, leaks, test drive thoroughly and get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. If everything checks out mechanically, that Camry could potentially still run reliably for awhile longer.

When test driving a high mileage used car in Canada, you should check:

 

– Engine noise – Listen for odd sounds like knocking or rattling

– Acceleration – Does it have good power without hesitation?

– Transmission shifting – Smooth gear changes? Any slipping?

– Braking – Any odd noises? Does it stop straight without pulling?

– Suspension – Check for bounciness, clunking noises over bumps

– Steering wheel vibrations – Should stay steady when hitting bumps

– Dashboard warning lights – Ensure no check engine or other warnings

 

Pay attention to how the vehicle feels on the test drive. Any issues could signal bigger problems and higher repair costs down the road.

Most experts consider over 200,000 km to be excessive mileage for a used BMW 3 series in Canada. BMWs tend to require more frequent and expensive maintenance than mainstream brands, especially at higher mileage. By 200,000 km, the cost of repairs and potential reliability issues increase. Sticking to under 150,000 km is ideal if you want to minimize BMW maintenance costs.

Buying an older luxury car with 250,000+ kilometers in Canada can be risky. High-end makes like Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus have more expensive parts and maintenance requirements. At that high mileage, the potential for costly repairs also increases. Unless you have complete maintenance records and get extensive inspections, it’s best to avoid older luxury cars with over 250,000 km.

On a 15 year old Honda Civic in Canada with 200,000 km, the main things to check are:

 

– Maintenance records for oil changes, repairs etc

– Engine compression test to check the motor

– Transmission fluid – inspect color and smell

– Timing belt/chain – confirm it was replaced if needed

– Suspension components for any looseness

– Rust inspection, especially on older models

– Test drive to listen for odd engine sounds

 

The Honda Civic can be reliable, even at high mileage. But it’s important everything was properly maintained and major services done on schedule. Get a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a mechanic before deciding.

Some risks of buying ex-police vehicles in Canada include:

 

– Hard use – usually driven aggressively with long idle times

– Unknown accident history that may be hidden

– Missing maintenance records from police service

– Electrical issues from equipment that was removed

– High mileage at time of retirement from fleet service

– May still have drill holes, wiring remnants inside

 

While police cars are serviced regularly, their rough use can take a toll. Thoroughly inspect any police auction vehicle and have a mechanic ensure it was not abused before purchasing.

It’s generally best to avoid used cars with replaced engines or transmissions in Canada unless the work was done recently under warranty by the dealer. In most cases, these major repairs indicate the vehicle likely had underlying issues or was not properly maintained. The cost and headaches to address future problems typically make these cars poor investments long term.

When buying a high mileage used car in Canada, important maintenance records to request include:

 

– Oil change invoices showing regular changes

– Major repairs like timing belt, brakes, suspension

– Any engine or transmission repairs

– Records of wheel alignments / tire rotations

– Air filter and other fluid changes

– Warranty repair invoices if applicable

 

Complete maintenance logs in the owner’s manuals and repair invoices help give you peace of mind on a higher mileage vehicle. Missing, incomplete, or lost records should be a warning sign of potential issues.



The Toyota RAV4 can be reliable well past 200,000 km if properly maintained. But for resale value and minimizing repair costs, it’s best to avoid RAV4 models over 300,000 km. By that point, common issues emerge like leaks, suspension wear, transmission problems and oil burning – even on durable Toyota models. Stick under 250,000 km on a used RAV4 for the most reliability and value.

To check for odometer fraud in Canada, you can:

 

– Review vehicle history reports for mileage inconsistencies

– Check service records and oil change stickers to match miles driven

– Look for missing or misaligned dashboard digits

– Inspect tires/brake pads/seats for wear not matching mileage

– Test drive and have a mechanic inspect if mileage seems too low

 

Odometer tampering unfortunately happens on used cars. Carefully verifying records, mechanics, appearance and your test drive helps identify any potential mileage fraud before purchasing the vehicle.



Some high mileage modern cars renowned for longevity in Canada include:

 

– Toyota Camry and Corolla

– Honda Civic and Accord

– Mazda3

– Subaru Outback and Forester

– Ford F150 trucks

– Chevrolet Silverado trucks

– Toyota RAV4 SUVs

– Acura MDX and RDX SUVs

 

With proper maintenance, these vehicles often reach over 400,000 km and beyond. Their durability, lower repair costs and reliability make them good options even with higher kilometers.

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