How Many Miles Are Too Many – What Is Considered Too High Mileage?

by Craig Miller on December 1, 2011

If you have been searching the Craigslist cars website you have likely encountered a handful of cars that have 100,000, 200,000 or even 300,000 miles on them. As this point you begin to wonder just how many miles are too many. There is no definite answer to this question but there are a few key indicators that let you know a particular car has too many miles.

Should I Buy A Car With 100,000 Miles On It?

This depends on the model and year of the vehicle. Many of today’s modern vehicles can be driven over 200k without any major mechanical repairs needed. If the car that you are interested in was built in the past 10 years, it is usually not a problem. Older vehicles usually have more problems when it comes to higher mileage. Generally speaking, older import cars such as the Honda or Toyota will last for thousands upon thousands of miles. Cars such as Audi and Volvo have a reputation for running forever. Don’t buy a car based on these generalizations. Look for signs that the car was taken care of. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects when it comes to buying a used car.

Should I Purchase A Car With 200,000 Miles?

When you approach the 200k mark you should proceed with caution. Most cars begin to have engine and transmission failure when they reach this point. You could find a good deal on a vehicle that has already had its engine and tranny replaced. Otherwise it probably better to stay away from these cars. There are some exceptions to the rule. For instance, many of the cars mentioned above will last beyond 200k. Trucks such as the Chevy 1500 Silverado or the Ford F150 are known to run for 300k plus. Then it come to buying a used car, it is really a gamble because you really do not know what you are getting.

As with any used car, it is important to check it out before making a decision. There are a lot of ways to tell how well a car has been cared for. Look down into the valve cover with a flashlight and take a look at the condition of the valves. Look for excessive sludge or varnish as this could be a sign of poor maintenance. Another great place to look is on the oil dipstick. Look for similar issues.  Remove the transmission dipstick and smell the fluid. Ensure that it does not have a burned smell. This could be an indication that you transmission life is short.

There is no exact science when it comes to buying a high mileage car. Trust your instincts and only purchase for a person you feel comfortable with. If the seller is a questionable character, it is probably in your best interest to move onto the next deal. There are plenty of used car available out there. Remember, a vehicle history report can really save you a lot of headache in the future. They only cost about $30 and are well worth the money if you are considering the purchase of a car.

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