How to buy a high mileage used car?

Manjul Sharma BUYING GUIDE, GUIDES Leave a Comment

Choosing a used car over a new car is often a sensible decision. Not only does it facilitate you with a cost-efficient deal, but it also provides you with the possibility of owning a high-end car that you probably wouldn’t go for otherwise. In this day and age, the average lifespan of cars is approximately 10 years and they could easily be trusted for 200,000 km or even 300,000 km if they are sufficiently taken care of. Here are some basic pointers that will help you purchase a used car, especially a high mileage used car.

Check the service history of high mileage used car

If you consider purchasing a used car, the first and the most vital advice that you would probably receive from every direction is to check the car’s service history. The service records of a car provide you with many significant details of the way the car has been used and maintained so far. Along with the service history, also check the car’s history which includes the registration information, VIN number, ownership transfers, insurance claims, mileage, etc.

Illustration of checking the service history.

Some of the quick and customary types of maintenance works are changing the engine oil, replacing the cabin and engine air filter, replacement of windshield wipers and battery. Some other imperative maintenance works include:

  • Replacement of spark plugs. Weary or dingy spark plugs don’t function efficiently and can lead to breakdown due to improper ignition of fuel in the combustion chamber.
  • Replacement of tyres and alignment of the car. Once the car crosses the 100,000 km mark on its odometer, its tyres are likely to be flattened. Ensure the tyres are replaced and the car is properly aligned to ward off the possibility of replacing all four tyres at the same time because of the uneven wear of the tyres.
  • Replacement of the timing belt that assists the water pump to circulate the coolant through the water jacket. Most of the cars need their timing belts to be replaced every 60,000 to 90,000 km. If a timing belt isn’t replaced on time, it is likely to snap and immediately break down the car.

Do scrutinise the mileage information in the service history, i.e.mileage in different years, mileage difference according to years, etc. If you find anything odd in the information of mileage, it could be a red flag for a tampered odometer.

One of the most advantageous aspects of a properly maintained service history is the clarity of the car’s condition it provides. If the car’s owner has maintained all the service records and receipts, it could be assumed that he has driven the car with pride and intended to keep the car in the best condition possible.

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Test drive the high mileage used car to check its handling

Illustration of test driving

Whether it’s a new car or a preowned car, the best way to evaluate the car’s condition is to take a test drive. Prepare a list of checkpoints or have it prepared by a reliable mechanic. Being prepared will save you time and effort, moreover, you don’t need to test drive any car that has some grave red flags in its service history. In order to thoroughly scrutinize the car’s condition, you should follow some steps.

  • Check everything posited in the list of features of the car is actually present. Let your friends or family members accompany you. Not only will they provide you a different perspective, but they wouldn’t be as emotionally involved in the deal as you and would be able to see things more clearly.
  • Check all the exteriors of the car. Observe the paint on every body panel, uneven paint could indicate lousily mended damage. Check the condition of tyres, their similarity, and alignment.
  • Start the car, switch on all the lights and ensure every light is working. Check for any strange smell and exhaust, black exhaust might indicate engine or emission issues.
  • Select a proper location, since you would need to drive the car on various types of surfaces (rough road, highway, road with multiple speed bumps).
  • Check all the interiors of the car, i.e., USB ports, air conditioning system, radio, dash controls, door locks, seat belts, windows, dash vents, etc. Make sure that you are comfortable with the arrangement of the seats, mirrors, and steering wheel. Ensure you can see properly through the windshield and in the mirrors.
  • Take the car on the test drive, make sure your companions are with you. Drive the car on various types of roads. Listen to the sound of the engine, transmission, and brakes as you accelerate, change gears, and push the brakes respectively. Analyse the brakes with your foot. Drive on a rough road and try identifying squeaky or rattling sounds, and suspension faults.

Certify the high mileage used car’s condition

Spinny assured cars

Even after the test drive, if you are confused, you could always take the help of a trusted mechanic to sieve the car thoroughly. Having the car certified is the best solution to ward off the uncertainties. There are many service centres in the market which certify the used cars after inspecting them thoroughly. Some of them even provide warranties. The best deal is to go for a car that is already certified. Spinny offers certified cars that are non-accidental and thoroughly inspected. A vigilant inspection on 200 check points is done by Spinny while certifying a car. And in case, any issues are found during the inspection, they are entirely rectified, thus ensuring a perfect condition of the car and providing it with certification.

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Some common problems you may find in a high used mileage car

In this day and age cars are built better than ever, and they could easily be driven even after they hit the 100,000 km mark on their odometers, with proper maintenance. However, just to be on the safe side you should understand the common issues that you might find in a high mileage car.

  • The engine oil issue- One of the most common problems that may come across in a high mileage car is the increased rate of burning of the engine oil. High-mileage usually tends to wear out the piston rings and seals, this leads the engine oil to seep into the combustion chamber, therefore more oil burns. Burning off of more oil than usual may also happen if the car has not been taken care of properly or the owner has used poor quality engine oil. Use a dipstick to check the oil level, color, and smell.
  • The transmission issue- Once the car crosses 100,000 km, it’s likely to have some transmission issues. Usually, cars need their transmission oil to be changed every 30,000 to 40,000 km. Check if the owner has changed the transmission oil at regular intervals. If you hear any groaning sounds from the transmission system, you must have it checked by a mechanic.
  • Water pump issues- The most imperative component of any car’s cooling system is its water pump. It circulates the coolant to maintain the temperature of the engine and avert overheating. Water pump leaks are likely to occur between 60,000 to 90,000 km. Some signs of water leaks are steam coming from the radiator, or rust under the hood.
  • Rust- Rust is one of the most common issues in cars. Regardless of the mileage, if the car has been used in rain it is bound to have rust. If the rust is not addressed in time, it effervesces and spreads. Rust on the easily accessible surface could be fixed by rubbing with sandpaper, priming, painting, and buffing. But, rust in cubby areas could be fixed by anti-rust treatment.

Maintenance costs of high mileage used cars

Maintenance is something that every car requires. The better the maintenance is, the longer it extends the car’s life span. High-mileage cars usually require a slightly higher level of maintenance. In the case of high mileage cars, the common operations that are performed during the service of a high mileage car are:

  • Cleaning the cabin thoroughly and checking for any defects.
  • Cleaning or replacing the fuel filters.
  • Cleaning or replacing the spark plugs.
  • Checking the brake fluid and AC coolant, and if required topping them up.
  • Checking the timing belt and replacing it if required.
  • Replacement of clutch plates.
  • Replacement of air filters.
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Is a high mileage car a wise choice?

It entirely depends on the car’s condition. 100,000 km is no longer the expected lifespan of a car, these days cars are built better than ever. If a high mileage car has been properly maintained throughout its life, there is no harm in buying it.

What are the benefits of a certified high mileage car?

A certified car is rectified thoroughly by trained professional mechanics. Mostly a certified car is provided with a warranty. The best part about purchasing a certified car is that you can be sure that you won’t find any issues while using it and it could be financed easily.

What indicates an issue with the timing belt?

There are certain indicators of a failing timing belt:

  • Ticking noise while driving.
  • Engine light going on and off.
  • Problem in starting the car and backfiring of the engine.

What is the maintenance cost of a high mileage car?

The maintenance cost of a car entirely depends on the car, its condition, and its manufacturing company. Here are the approximate service costs of some of the famous cars that are preferred even with high mileage.

  • Toyota Innova- Rs 8,000-10,000.
  • Honda City- Rs 5,000-6,000.
  • Maruti Suzuki Swift- Rs 5,000-6,000.
  • Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire- Rs 5,000-6,000.
  • Ford EcoSport- Rs 5,000-6,000.
  • Ford Figo- Rs 5,000-6,000.
  • Toyota Etios- Rs 5,000-6,000.

Remember, these are costs of services after every 10,000 km. And these costs don’t cover any replacements, changes, and fluid top-ups.

Is the fuel efficiency of high mileage cars lower than that of other cars?

Fuel efficiency of any car depends on the condition of its engine. These days, engine components are built better than ever and are designed to run millions of kilometres. If an engine is maintained well during the course of its usage, chances are high that the number of kilometres driven won’t affect its fuel efficiency as much.

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