What's better: low miles, or late model?


I know this has probably been asked before, but I couldn’t find anything using the Search…

So what are your opinions for buying a used car? For example, assuming everything else is the same, what’s a better buy: a 1998 Ford Mustang with 30k miles, or a 2006 Ford Mustang with 100k miles? I just made up those numbers, adjust the miles to something that would bring the market value for both cars to around the same.

Maybe this is a more complicated question than I think, but I’m interested to hear opinions.




I’d go for the 06. 1: it would have(hopefully) lived it’s life on the highway, which is good for the car. At 10 years old with only 30k miles, it could have been either a weekend fun car, or lived it’s life a 1/4 mile at a time. Either way, have both looked at by your mechanic BEFORE you buy anything.


A lot depends on the body; how good it was new, and WHERE it has been used. Mustangs have never had terrific bodies, and a 10 year old one may be full of rust internally. On the other hand, a high mileage car has been driven mostly on the highway, unless it was a taxi! Highway miles are easy on a car, provided the maintenance was done. Make sure you have the records!! In any case, let a competent mechanic check out the vehicle, no matter what it is. One of the best cars I ever bought was a 10 year old Chevy, but I knew the owner and got all the maintenance records.


JMHO, but I would take the lower miles 98. Each mile is worth a set amount of maintenance and repairs and if figured this amount X 70k it could add up to a chunk of repair costs.
(Assuming the cars are in similar condition and were treated the same; normal driving, no abuse.)

An example might be the transmission. The 98 is just now due for a trans fluid change IMHO. The 06 may be well past that point.
The spark plugs in the 98 would still be good whereas the 06 may have been running around for tens of thousands of miles with misfiring plugs to some degree.
The fuel filter is probably good in the 98 but if the 06 has gone a 100k on the original filter that is partially clogged then the fuel pump could be suffering.
See where this goes?


Hmmm good points so far, even if somewhat opposite. While we’re at it, I’m looking (lusting) at Dodge Chargers right now…w/ the 3.5L V6, if anyone has any comment on that vehicle/engine. I heard the 2.7L V6 they offer with the Charger is horrible (same 2.7L in the Intrepid?). The one Charger I’m looking at is at an independant dealer, it has 80k miles, it’s a 2006, for $12,590 CDN (13.5k USD). Haven’t seen it in person yet.


You need to find a nice low mileage '68 charger. (-;


Another thing to consider: a 10-year old car with few miles will most likely have seals that will dry out and leak. This was evident in my grandmother’s car that was 15 years old, but only had 27K miles. Water pump leaked, power steering unit leaked, rear main leaked, tires had suspicious cracks, etc.


Agree. Cars deteriorate through lack of use, and natural aging. This old Mustang has done probably both. Plus, if not driven vigorously to blow out the condensation, could suffer from internal corrosion, plugged oil passages, and a host of other things. I don’t often say that a car has too few miles on it, but this one may very well fall into that category. To be in good shape it must have had at AT LEAST 20 OIL & FILTER CHANGES. If the maintenance records do not prove that I would not come near ti!


Haha I’d love to…most '68 anything vehicles around here are either rust buckets or big $$$.


Age is as much as factor as is mileage. There is not a magical # of miles for a vehicle to last nor to wear out.

If your area uses salt in the winter I would simply not consider low mile vehicle an asset like many owners pose them to be.

A major problem with low mileage vehicles too is that owners don’t maintain the fluids very well that age by time as well as mileage. Old brake fluid (basically soaks in moisture) does not do wonders for expensive ABS pumps nor does original coolant as its lost all the rust inhibitors leading to radiator replacement time. If you don’t believe me on oil, look inside an old container of opened motor oil after 5 years+, cars are sealed but not perfectly tight.


You have such a NARROW criteria for searching. It really can’t be defined that narrowly. There are many many other factors to consider. The first being…how well it was maintained. I’ve seen people drive 20-30k miles without ever changing the oil. They buy or lease the car then drive it for 2-3 years…then sell it. They REFUSE to put any money into a vehicle they’re only going to keep 2-3 years.

Another thing to consider…especially with the cars you’ve choosen…is the style. The newer Mustang is by far one of the sharpest vehicles ever produced by Ford…I like that body style far more then the 98. But that’s just my opinion.


Sorry I wasn’t clear… I was just using Mustangs as an example…and I was just asking that all other considerations aside, as a theoretical, which would be a better bet. I’m actually looking at Dodge Chargers, and do live in the “rust belt”, so for me, probably a late model with high-ish miles would be a better bet than an older vehicle with less miles. Of course I’ll consider all the other issues as well when looking at possible purchases.
I do agree, the new Mustang fastback style is awesome, way better than the 90’s body style.


You make a good point about the salt, I do live in an area with extensive salt use during the winter.


My 65 Chevelle only has 132k miles on it. Does that count as low miles?. That averages out to be just under 3100 miles per year(43 years old now). :smiley:

On the 06 charger issue, I’d have it checked over and make sure maintenance is up to date. Personally, I’d go for the 5.7L over the 3.5L, and I have my sights set on the 6.1L version(since the guy didn’t bother to call me back about my Chevelle, I’m going for fun and sort of practical)


It depennds on how much you will drive this car, and what the price differance is. if the price on the 98 is already depreciated and you will drive this car quite a bit, the low milage older car is a good bet, but if the price is posted according to the milage, then it is over priced for a car that is 9 years old, then your better off getting the 06. because a car 1 year old with more miles will still hold more market value than a 10 year old car with low miles.(newer cars , most of the time, are more appealing anyway) bmhiebert


"My 65 Chevelle only has 132k miles on it. Does that count as low miles?. That averages out to be just under 3100 miles per year(43 years old now). :smiley: "

Cool, with any luck it will still be going strong after these '07s are long forgotten.