As you all know I sell cars for a living, and one of the most frustrating parts of doing that (aside from having to deal with people) is dealing with people’s preconceived notions about an odometer reading. I’ve been around cars my entire life, I’ve worked on cars since I was old enough to adequately turn a wrench. I may not be formally trained, but I know a fair share and feel like years in this business qualifies me to speak on the subject. So I would like to take a moment on this blog post to speak on this subject.
Miles on your car mean virtually nothing!!! It’s 2021, not 1952. The days where a car is worn out at 100k have been gone for at least 3 decades. The technology in engine oil, the quality of roads, material cars are built with all have lead to a much longer life of a vehicle, being in the midwest we are more likely to lose a car to rust than to wear a properly maintained vehicle out. Notice I said “properly maintained” this is far more critical to the overall life and health of a vehicle today than the numbers on your odometer. I buy and sell cars for a living and one thing I can say for sure is I would prefer a car with 200K or even 300K miles and good service history to a car with 100k and zero maintenance. I can’t count the number of cars that have come into my shop and ran and drove like total garbage with low miles because the owner neglected them. Then I run into cars like the truck I just bought from the auction with 250k on it that I honestly feel drives like a new truck still. On top of that, you pay a premium for low mileage vehicles that may or may not be any good. There are very few cases where I have found a low mileage vehicle to turn out better over the long run compared to average or high mileage. I’m going to do my best to layout an actual case for this with numbers in the next paragraph.
2013 F150 Platinum Cost new $53,000 3/36k warranty, 5/60k powertrain.
2013 F150 Platinum used 98k miles $28,000, no warranty
2013 F150 Platinum used 250k miles $15,000, no warranty
3.5L ecoboost junkyard engine 3500-5000
3.5L 4×4 transmission 500-700
3.5l transfer case 150-300
Above you see the cost of the truck new when it was still under warranty and the warranty period. The cost to own that truck from the day it was new to 2021 is $6625 per year not counting maintenance on the vehicle. (cost, divided by 8 years) The cost to own the used low mileage truck over that same 8 year period calculates out to $3500 per year. The cost to own the high mileage truck over 8 years calculates out to $1875 per year. Even if at some point in those 8 years you needed to replace an engine for 5k it would still bring the cost of ownership on the high mileage truck up to only $2500 per year over that period. Keep in mind without a warranty on the low mileage truck it could run into any of the same problems as the high mileage truck. So, if that truck needed an engine at some point it would bring the cost up to $4125 per year.
The point I’m trying to make here is that using an odometer as a measure of quality or value is a mistake. Yes, it is something to factor into a buying decision because it affects value down the road and initial purchase price, but it should not be the focal point in your search for a quality used vehicle. I sell used low mileage vehicles and used high mileage vehicles so this isn’t a ploy just to get you to buy my sweet 2013 F150 Platinum 😉 although I encourage anyone to come out and drive it to see what a properly maintained, high mileage vehicle should feel like. If you ever have questions about buying a used vehicle or want help choosing the car that’s right for you I’m happy to offer advice even if you don’t purchase from us.