Are Newer Cars With High Mileage Worth Buying? (Explained)

Purchasing a brand-new car is fun, but it can be expensive.

That’s why more people opt for used new cars which are more wallet-friendly. However, some of them have high mileage and that begs the question: Are they reliable or worth it?

Keep reading to find out if you should consider buying one.

Here’s the short answer to whether newer cars with high mileage are worth buying:

Newer cars with high mileage aren’t always bad purchases. If a newer car’s mileage is fairly higher than the national yearly average, it may show frequent usage. However, high-mileage new cars aren’t always problem free, so do your due diligence before buying.

Newer Car With High Mileage vs Old Car With Low Mileage?

Very often, people debate on which is the best deal a car buyer can get. Well, we expect cars today to withstand more rigorous conditions than their ancestors. However, aging occurs whether or not work is done.

This hints that a newer car with high mileage might always perform better than its older sibling with fewer miles.

We measure high or low mileage by the national average yearly miles driven. The range for each year usually falls between 11,000 to 15,000 miles. However, there’s room for cars to have slightly higher or lower mileage figures.

A newer car with high mileage (not too higher than the average) might even be a good thing. If it’s still in good condition, it shows that its engine stood the test of miles and is reliable. Its engine would also be more lubricated than a lower-mileage older vehicle.

Ultimately, a newer car with high mileage implies that it has been used well, albeit rigorously. On the other hand, there’s a fear in the market regarding cars that haven’t been used to their full potential. If a car is under-used, it may be notorious for developing faults.

Truly, a car that’s always at the auto repair shop will age without stacking up many miles. All the above does not mean newer high-mileage cars are always perfect. However, if we had to choose, we’d pick them without blinking.

What Typically Breaks First on Newer Cars With High Mileage?

Vehicle components wear, not only with age. Mainly, many of them wear out based on usage.

With that being said, don’t expect your 4-year-old car with 80,000 miles to have equal wear with other 4-year-old vehicles. Let’s look at some components that first need to be replaced or repaired in a high-mileage car.

Spark Plugs

You can think of spark plugs as matches that light up your car before it can combust fuel. After tens of thousands of miles, they’re unable to create sparks efficiently anymore.

Although often overlooked, spark plugs are an important part of a car’s system. They’re also hardly noticed because they seem to last forever on modern cars. However, when a car becomes a high-mileage vehicle, the plugs become a high-priority component and must be replaced.

Ordinarily, spark plug replacement shouldn’t bother car owners much. Nonetheless, when you consider the low price that high-mileage cars go for, replacing the plugs doesn’t seem cheap anymore.

Spark plugs can last as short as 20,000 miles or as long as 100,000 miles. It is ideal to know what type you have and to forecast when they’d need replacement.

According to YourMechanic, the spark plug replacement cost for all cars range from $113 to $716. If you feel the figures are high, know that they usually have to be replaced at the same time. Most cars use 4 to 8 plugs.

Brake Pads

Lower-quality brake pads may only last about 30,000 miles. Higher-grade pads (like ceramic ones) can last as long as 70,000 miles or more.

We can think brake pads of as calipers that hold on to a car’s rotor at the wheels. This is the mechanism used to bring cars to a halt. It also means there’s usually a lot of friction.

When vehicles take longer periods to stop, it’s usually a sign that their brake pads are worn out. The wearing process depends on the driver’s driving habits and road conditions. If you’re always in traffic, even your high-grade pads may not last very long.

The constant friction may cause the rotors and the pads to deteriorate. So, you may have to pay for new rotors as well. Brake pad replacement costs across all vehicles range from $150 to $480.

Timing Belt

A timing belt, as the name implies, ensures adequate timing or synchronization between the crankshaft and the camshaft. If you do not know what that means, have no worries, we won’t bore you with all the details.

All you need to know is that it helps the engine valves to open and close at the needed moment. It could also be replaced by a timing chain or gears, and they all serve the same function.

On average, they can last anywhere between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. People usually buy used vehicles within this mile range, so replacing the timing belt is common in high-mileage cars. Replacement costs range from about $318 to over $1,500.

With such high replacement costs, it’s understandable why car owners may avoid replacing them as much as possible. Unfortunately, not replacing your timing belt when it is due would cause other engine parts to fail.

You’d also need to monitor the belt to ensure it doesn’t suddenly snap off or break while you drive. So, it’s best not to wait until it exceeds its lifespan before you replace it. Instead, look out for warning signs like squealing noises or cracks on the belt.

Battery

On electric cars, high mileage causes significant battery deterioration. This is a cause for concern because battery life in electric cars is synonymous with overall vehicle lifespan. Still, even with high mileage, the battery should be able to provide a decent range.

The batteries in regular cars have much shorter lifespans. Drivers may be able to get about 60,000 miles from their battery. If you’re lucky, you’d dodge a bullet and buy a high-mileage car after they have already replaced the battery.

Car batteries last about 3 to 5 years before they need to be replaced. After this period, even if they’ve been functioning without hitches, don’t be surprised if they fail unexpectedly.

A battery provides the power for several components to function effectively, including the ignition and fuel system. That’s why it’s never a good idea to give your battery any opportunity to fail. As soon as you’ve had your battery for over 3 years, it’s best to replace it.

This is ideal, especially if your yearly mileage is more than the average of about 14,000 miles.

Radiator

Leakage causes most problems that occur because of the radiator. Since the radiator contains coolant for the engine, a leaking radiator causes a temperature rise. That’s why when a radiator leaks, it’s easy to notice it.

The radiator itself or the hoses linking it to the engine may get ruptured. Any of these events can cause the engine to overheat tremendously.

Like most of the components that we’ve discussed, a problem with the radiator can cause problems to many other parts. More often, they lead to piston deformation. Thankfully, if you experience a problem with your radiator, it shouldn’t be difficult to repair.

Related: Problems With Buying High Mileage Cars (5 Common Issues)

When Is a Car Considered High Mileage?

If a car stacks up slightly more miles than the national average, we would simply consider it good usage. So, give or take 2,000 miles from 14,200 miles and it’s still fair. However, if any car hits 20,000 miles in a single year, we’d consider it to be high mileage.

Hence, 40,000 miles in 2 years or 80,000 miles in 4 years isn’t ideal.

When a car gets to 80,000 miles, irrespective of its yearly mileage, we’d classify it as high mileage. This is because, at 80,000 miles, many components are worn out or about to be. It’s also high mileage because the major depreciation costs are over at this point.

So, buying a car at 80,000 miles almost always causes constant repairs.

Ironically, a car with 120,000 odometer miles may even be in better condition because the owner may have replaced problematic parts.

Related: 8 Common Problems With High Mileage Cars (Explained)

Is 50,000 Miles a Lot for a Used Car?

A vehicle with 50,000 miles seems like a fair compromise on both sides. From the buyer’s perspective, it’d be new and functional. However, its price would still be high relative to a high-mileage car because more depreciation is yet to come.

So, a car with 50,000 miles isn’t typically worn out. If well maintained, you may get an additional 150,000 miles from it. Still, more depreciation would occur as the car serves you for more years.

With 50,000 miles, most cars should have optimally functional components.

Final Thoughts

Mileage doesn’t always determine effectiveness or performance. Maintenance may even play a more important role in car health than mileage. It isn’t strange to see well-maintained cars exceed the 250,000-mile mark and still perform optimally.

You’d also enjoy your recently purchased high-mileage vehicle if you follow through with maintenance.

Hence, the most important factors that influence performance and reliability are care, quality, mileage, time, and perhaps a little luck.

So, consider these factors before looking for your next great deal. Also, when you buy a high-mileage car, you intend to spend as little on maintenance costs as possible. That’s why unplanned maintenance costs, no matter how cheap, are a red flag.

Related: 8 Electric Cars With High Resale Value (With Numbers)

Sources

Here’s How Car Maintenance Costs Increase With Mileage | Popular Mechanics

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