Should You Buy a High Mileage Car?

Manjul Sharma BUYING GUIDE, GUIDES Leave a Comment

While buying a used car, the most ponderable aspects are accidental history, paint condition, colour, engine type, fuel, transmission, and the most salient one ‘Mileage’. The term ‘Mileage’ here refers to the number of kilometres it is driven, not the mileage it provides per litre of fuel. You may have found the perfect used car in amply maintained condition but the figures of its high mileage are leading you to second thoughts. A high mileage car is usually interpreted as a sign of reduced usability and to be in a less than drivable condition.

But, is it so? Well, the truth is a car’s overall condition could not be appraised just on the basis of figures on its odometer. The reading on the odometer only reflects the number of kilometres a car has covered, but this is only one of the checkpoints of a car’s condition. The condition of a car highly depends upon various aspects of the way it has been driven, for example, traffic, speed, roads, trips, etc.

Currently, the used cars business in India holds 18% of the market share, and cars with low-mileages are not the only ones being sold. Despite high mileages, millions of cars attract the interest of customers in the used car market. Furthermore, the wariness about health and hygiene has led people to look for a personal mode of transport. As the industry analysts suggest, it’s always advisable to purchase a used car given its various reasonable advantages, i.e. affordability, less depreciation, high-end cars at relatively lower prices, etc. In the case of high mileage cars, there are various advantages, let’s throw some light upon them.

Advantages of a high mileage car

Purely utility

The term ‘Utility’ here refers to long-distance travel of passengers or goods. Utility vehicles (MUVs, SUVs, Trucks with low sides) are purposely built to run millions of kilometres. More often than not you will notice people interested in used MUVs like Toyota Innova, Maruti Ertiga, because of their well-maintained condition despite their high mileage.

An MUV, Toyota Innova
The Toyota Innova is reputed for being a reliable high mileage car

In the cars that are used for long motorway trips, there is a slower rate deterioration of brakes, clutch, and suspension as compared to the cars used in urban stop-and-go traffic strewed with speed breakers. A 3-year-old car with 8000 km mileage might come across as very tempting, but there is a possibility that the car has had short trips and not allowed the lubricants and oil to warm up and function effectively. Engine and gearbox deteriorate if they are not used enough and kept mostly unused after they function for the first time. Some brands are revered for manufacturing cars that are designed to run millions of miles with adequate service and care. Some of the older models with high mileage are worth going for, if they have run this far and are in good condition, they can be trusted for plenty more.

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Lower price

High mileage used cars are usually available in the market at lower prices as compared to other used cars, they also have a slower depreciation rate. But lower price doesn’t necessarily mean that the car has technical defects. A new model car with high mileage is usually better than that of an old model car with low mileage because as explained earlier, low mileage of an old model car renders a possibility that the car didn’t allow the lubricants and oil to warm up and function effectively.

Spinny Assured Honda City with high mileage
High mileage premium cars like used Honda City are sold at extremely low prices

Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 km every year is considered the average mileage of a car in India. A 3 year old model will typically have 30,000-40,000 km of mileage. However, the same 3 year old model with 60,000 km of mileage will be considered a relatively high mileage car. In this case, the car with the higher mileage will be priced lower.

If the higher mileage car has been maintained as well as the lower mileage car, you will be getting a good deal for a very capable car with many miles left to drive. Additionally, if your annual mileage is less than 10,000 km, then your rate of depreciation will be slow, giving you a higher resale value.

Only way to buy good discontinued cars

Considering a high mileage used car for purchase facilitates you with a provision to buy substantially good discontinued cars, like Skoda Yeti, Skoda Fabia, Mitsubishi Pajero, Mitsubishi Lancer, Chevrolet Cruze, etc. Since these cars are no longer available to buy, if they are available in the used car market, they are bound to have the high mileage figures on their odometers.

Skoda Yeti
One of the most popular discontinued cars is Skoda Yeti

Disadvantages of a high mileage car

Slightly higher maintenance charges

The requirement of a disciplined maintenance routine of a car increases with the increment of its mileage. High-mileage cars are susceptible to higher levels of wear and tear. Often after certain mileage of a car, it is likely to experience transmission issues, oil leakages, and fuel pump faults.

As a car accrues more miles, the likelihood of completely replacing critical components increases and becomes a necessity. Brake pads, water pumps, timing belts etc. require timely replacements in high mileage cars. In high mileage cars, the engine requires its oil to be changed more frequently because degraded seals, piston rings, and valve stems cause it to burn and leak more oil as compared to the engine of a less mileage car or a new car.

Possibility of buying a bad quality car

For a high mileage car, there is always a possibility of it being of poor condition, even if it looks well-maintained from the outside. Given the lucrativeness of the business of used cars, there are always possibilities of tampered odometers or forged documents. Driving a car rashly for 100,000 km could leave it in a condition similar to the one in which it is driven normally for 300,000 km.

As mentioned, high mileage cars require a higher level of maintenance due to chances of wear and tear in their parts from being used for a fairly long time. Maintaining a high mileage car could be costly and people usually refrain from spending much on the cars they have put up for sale.

If you are interested in buying a pre-owned car, platforms like Spinny are the way to go. Spinny provides the complete inspection reports of the car on the website and you could book a free test drive then and there only. It also provided a 5-day money back guarantee, 1-year warranty and fixed car assurance. The most beneficial attribute of purchasing a Spinny assured car is that even if you go for a high mileage car, you’ll end up extinguishing the apprehensions of high mileage cars.

Possible reliability issues

These days people rely highly on their personal cars for transport. And a car breakdown is the last thing one expects while travelling. But we can’t deny the fact that the possibility of a breakdown is always there, whether it’s a new car or a high mileage car. However, if a high mileage car is well maintained, the chances of its breakdown are seldom. In case, there has been any frivolity in its maintenance, it creates the possibility of a breakdown. Here are a few pointers to ward off the possibilities of a breakdown.

  • Make sure the engine is sufficiently oiled. In a high mileage car, the engine usually burns slightly more oil as compared to the engine of a new car. The deficiency of oil in an engine can cause overheating even fusion of its components.
  • Make sure the tyres have been changed and if not, their treads must be in good condition to provide them with sufficient grip.
  • Make sure the electrical system of the car is pertinent. A defective electric system could lead to the risks of short circuits, electrical shocks due to exposed bare wires, malfunctioning door controls, etc.
  • The life expectancy of a battery is approximately 4 years irrespective of the mileage. A faulty battery could cause intermittent sparks and that could lead to the accumulation of fuel in cylinders. Ignition of accumulated fuel in the cylinder can cause the engine to backfire. Make sure the battery condition is starkly scrutinized.
  • Make sure the airbags are functioning properly especially in terms of timing as the primary function of airbags is to pop out on time in case of a jolt.
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How many kilometres is too high mileage for a used car?

It completely depends on the way the car has been maintained. Usually, a car is likely to expect issues after 100,000 km, but its timely and proper maintenance can extend its potency for plenty more kilometers.

What is more important among mileage and age of a car?

The mileage of a car needs to be resonating with the age of a car. If a car is fairly old and has driven relatively a smaller number of kilometres, then there is a possibility of things going wrong. The more the engine and gear are kept inoperational, the higher is their rate of deterioration.

Should I go for a 15-year-old car?

According to the RTO norms, the usage of a car aged 15 year or more is prohibited. So, there is no point in purchasing a 15-year-old car.

Why do the engines of high mileage cars need much oiling?

As the engine ages, its components wear. Worn components like valve stems, seals, and piston rings allow the flow of oil into the combustion chamber that results in burning of more oil.

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