All miles are not equal. You may think that that doesn’t make sense. Let us explain. A used car is a great way to get more car for less money. But what if you find the perfect used car but it has thousands of miles on it? Is a car with 100,000 miles only destined for the crusher? Here’s how you can tell how many miles are too many.

Assume you see two used cars, and they are identical in every way, except that one has 50,000 miles on it, and the other has 80,000 miles on it. You’ll likely think that the one with fewer miles is the better choice. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. If the car that was driven for 80,000 miles had mostly been driven on the highway by the owner of the vehicle, it may be in better shape than the car that has been driven for 50,000 miles but was a rental and driven hard in the city. Say you find a vehicle with a low number of miles which has had five owners, and an incomplete service record and another with 30,000 miles more on it but had a single owner who can provide all service records. If both are priced the same, the car with more miles is likely to be a better option.

An important point to remember is that the industry average of miles driven per year is 15,000. Therefore, a ten-year-old vehicle can be expected to have 100,000 to 150,000 miles. If the number is significantly higher or lower, investigate why. 

Consider the overall condition of the vehicle and study its maintenance records. Care or neglect will show in the looks of the car, the condition of the interior, the way it drives, and the way it smells. Research the recommended service intervals of your chosen vehicle and compare that with the service records. Carry a detailed checklist of things to examine too. Remember, some brands build cars that last for well over 200,000 miles, while others aren’t worth much after less than half that.