Used car buying: old car, low miles vs newer car, high miles

If your buying a used car, what gets you the best performing car for your money: an older car with a lot less miles that average for a car that old, or a new used car with a lot of miles? What do you think? Obviously it depends on the car type etc. But in general for two comparable cars.

We had this discussion before several times. If a car is driven few miles on short trips, and parked outside, it will be well worn in 10 years, both engine and body. Short trips and stop & go driving are extremely hard on an engine.

On the other hand, a well maintained fleet car with high mileage (mostly highway) will still have a lot of life left in it, since the seals and othe compnents have not deteriorated yet, and highway miles are very easy on a car.

I would pick the newer car with the high mileage, if it was properly maintained.

I was in sales and put a lot of highway miles on my company cars. A two to four year old car with a lot of miles can be a good used car. Still it depends on whether the car was service properly. High mileage does not rule out a car for me on the miles alone.

I tend to agree. I don’t think we consider enough how much a car ages w/o being driven. Everything from gaskets , radiators, electronics, tires to body rust that’s unseen, can suffer the ravages of atmospheric conditions just sitting in the yard; not to mention sun light, one of the biggest enemies to car appearance. Newer car, higher, well maintained mileage gets my vote. Consider availability of parts to as an older car purchase ages in your hands.

Jay Leno might prefer the older model that may sit on display, but for a reliable commuter, I’d go newer.

I remember an article in Popular Mechanics or Popular Science many (40?) years ago suggesting the shopper write a number on a piece of masking tape that they like, and put it over the odometer when shopping for a used car. The point is that miles are much less important than many other things when buying a used car, as others have indicated.

If miles weren’t very important in 1970, they are even less important today!

Many people dismiss an otherwise good car merely because of high milage. This is an overrated, outdated cliche. These days cars last a lot longer, and milage is far less important than condition. Just make sure you get a feel for the car’s maintenance history. It might be a concern if it’s extremely high milage in a late-model car. Otherwise, high milage is nothing but a bargaining point.