Used Car cost vs. Mileage



When I look at prices on a used 2006 Subaru Outback I see one with 40K miles for $20,000 and one with 60K miles for $15,000. If the life of the car is 200,000 miles, isn’t the high mileage car a better bargain? All other things being equal.


Imagine if the life of the car is 80k miles. Which one is the better deal now? You say all other things being equal- imagine if both cars had not had their oil changed since new. Which one would be the better deal then? The point I’m making is that no two used cars are equal. They are both huge unknowns and you can never assume that both will go 200k miles before something major crops up. The best you can do is to have someone knowledgeable inspect them and determine which one has an acceptable level of risk for the money you are investing. Mileage is only one factor and it’s a small one with only a 20k mile difference IMO.


Car prices are all over the map. Private advertisers ususally have an unrealistic idea of what their cars are worth. This is especially true of Hondas and Toyotas. A 2 year old Accord with high miles is not worth more than a NEW Malibu, but that’s often the price asked.

If the higher miles were put on by a person driving a lot of highway miles and the maintenance is up to date, the rest of the car will still be in good shape. On the other hand, if the car was used for courier delivery service in the city, those miles have worn out a lot of items.

The price asked of $20,000 for a 4 year old car is rather high.

As economists say, ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, the 60,000 mile car is a better buy, but the 40,000 mile car’s price is too high.

However, you should look up at least 8 more offers to determine what a car like that actually sells for in your area. Also compare them with the KBB.


Spend a little money up front and have any vehicle that you are considering checked out by a good mechanic. Either Outback may be better than the other and I think they are both overpriced.


Use as a guide for true selling prices. Sellers/dealers ask anything they want. Those prices seem excessively high.


With used cars only two things matter: condition and history. Whethr one used car is a better bargain than another is entirely dependant upon those two things.


I’ll be all other things are not equal. There are 10 different versions, not including transmission, and a few options to change pricing. According to Edmunds, only a loaded, perfect 3.0R VDC wagon with navigation is worth $20,000. BTW, it has to be from a dealer, too.