What is typical milage per year


#1

Is there a typical amount of milage on a car for a year? I mean if you were to go out and look to buy a used car, what kind of milage per year would be considered good? What would be considered excessive?


#2

I believe the average American puts 13,000 -15,000 miles per year on a car. That will be closer to 15,000 for a commuter/family car and lower for a second car like an Aveo, Tyota Yaris, Nissan Versa. I would consider 20,000 miles or more per year excessive, unless the driving is all highway.

If you are buying a car from a retired person, you will often find an average of only 5000 miles per yaer, since these folks don’t drive to work. My mother in law sold her 1994 Pontiac Sunbird with only 60,000 miles on it this year. That’s 3333 miles per year!

Too few miles can mean trouble too, unless the oil has been changed very frequently. Such cars could also be sludged up due to never getting warm enough to burn it off.


#3

10,000-12,000 miles per year is considered “average.”

That doesn’t mean more than 12k is excessive.


#4

Well the one I bought had 135,000 on it when I just got it, the original owner had the car about 8.5 years so that works out to around about 15,000 miles per year.


#5

You can get another view of this by looking at a Kelly Blue Book or a NADA used car price book. Their prices are adjusted for more and less than what they say is average.


#6

Call it 15,000


#7

Optimally, I’d look for something driven 8,000-15,000 per year. Not too little, not too much.

But remember, despite the rhetoric you hear from many people, mileage really isn’t a very good indicator of how much wear a vehicle has had. There are many other metrics you can use that are equally important, but they aren’t all tracked. For example:

  1. Age from the date of manufacture (not in-service). Some parts, particularly seals, wear simply with age. You could park the car in a garage unused for 10 years and these parts might start to fail on you simply from oxidation and corrosion

  2. Number of times the transmission has shifted. This arguably will tell you more about the wear-and-tear on the transmission than miles ever will.

  3. Average rpm when shifting. Ie, is the owner slamming on the gas? Engine and transmission wear can increase exponentially with an increase here… so I’d rather have a car with 30k per year that was conservatively driven than one with 8k per year that was hammered constantly.

  4. Hours of operation. You can be running the engine and not going anywhere, but you’re still putting some wear-and-tear into some components. Boats and aircraft are often tracked by this measure, for good reason. Aircraft also use takeoffs/landings to measure age.

  5. Average time the vehicle was running each time it was started - did the owner run it long enough each time they operated it to really warm it up good?

And of course, there really are more.

For that reason, there really is no good simple answer to your question. I had a boss who put 50k easy-going highway miles on his cars per year, and those cars were in great shape. I also tend to discount stories of “My 2004 XXXX has 275,000 miles on it and it runs like new!”, simply because odds are those vehicles often have had very easy lives… and while some people disparaged my old Ford because it “doesn’t have many miles on it” (for its age), I knew that almost all the miles were short-hop stop-and-go in-city miles and had been brutal on the car.


#8

Edmunds and other car sites that give “retail values” for used cars seem to start devaluing a car as “high mileage” at about 12K to 15K per year. Cars with 20 to 30K per year have deductions for high miles. Cars with less than 10K per year get added value for low miles.


#9

#4 would be a nice feature to have in the car. You’d be able to tell that those 3000 miles were spent over 800 hours that year


#10

It really varies greatly depending on where you are at. If you live in the back woods of Montana or in a small town on the east coast, will make a great difference.

Frankly mileage would not be all that important to me other than to indicate if things like timing belt change had been done, should have been done etc.

Generally cars with high miles have lots of highway miles that are easy on a car. I would rather have twice the miles on a highway car than far fewer miles on a NY taxi.


#11

Agree, Joseph. A local writer of an auto column once stated that the best car he ever bought was a high mileage standard sedan used as a company car by an oil company field manager, and maintained by the book.

The worst car he ever bought was a very low mileage car owned by a little old lady who only drove to church, 7-11 and the bingo hall, and did very little maintenance.


#12

. . .by a little old lady who only drove to church, 7-11 and the bingo hall, and did very little maintenance.

I guess the little old lady must have losses at the bingo table and she took the money from her car maintenance budget.


#13

I would say between 12 and 15 thousand per year. Im at 14 thousand per year.


#14

Possibly. Having had to deal with seniors, their arthritis, indigestion, and other ailments take precedence over paying attention to their vehicles. They really look after their pets though. As long as the vehicle starts and runs OK they often forget about the rest. That’s why it’s important to ask for mainteance records when buying from a senior.

My mother-in-law was a bit of an exception, since she took the car in every spring anf all and had all the needed service done, even when only driving 4000 miles per year.