Mileage vs Age: What’s More Important in a Used Car

January 25th, 2016 by

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While shopping for a used car, you may notice an odd contradiction. A 15-year-old vehicle is selling for more money than a 10-year-old vehicle with significantly more miles. Why does the older vehicle have a higher value, and furthermore, don’t mileage and age kind of going hand-in-hand?

Not necessarily. Mileage and age can be significantly different, and they both play a different role in the price of a car. Before you go out shopping in Albany for used cars, learn the differences between mileage and age…

The Case for Mileage

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The amount of miles on a car’s odometer is one of the most significant determining factors for the price of a used vehicle. The mileage is indicative of how much wear and tear has been put on the car. Therefore, a car with more miles will usually be less expensive than an identical car with fewer miles. The fewer the miles, the more impressive the ride.

As Doug DeMuro of AutoTrader.com writes, the longevity of most car parts is based on mileage. This is especially true of the engine and suspension, parts that often need serious revamping after thousands of miles on the road.

The writer also notes how important it is to understand the different types of miles put on the vehicle. A car that’s compiled most of its miles in the city will show much more wear than a car that compiles most of the miles on the highway. Furthermore, a car with a dedicated owner will naturally last longer, especially if that owner kept up with all of their oil changes and visited the mechanic when an issue popped up.

The Case for Age

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The age of a vehicle isn’t particularly important, assuming everything is operating properly (we’ll get to this in a moment). Otherwise, there are few parts of the vehicle that will be compromised due to age, as most of the parts are worn down based on the number of miles on the vehicle. DeMuro notes that rubber parts don’t age particularly well, although they’re not costly to replace, so that shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing an older used car.

When it comes down to it, it’s important to determine whether that 15-year-old used car is an “old” 15-years-old or a “young” 15-years-old. In other words, has the vehicle been on the road for all 15 years? Or has it been sitting in a garage for the past half-decade? Predictably, a vehicle isn’t going to work as well if it’s rarely been used. Otherwise, assuming all of the mechanics are working well, age shouldn’t play much a factor.

What’s More Important, Mileage or Age?

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Neither. This may be the easy way out, but the condition of the vehicle is the most important factor when determining whether to pursue a vehicle. A poorly-maintained low-mileage vehicle may actually be a worse ride the a well-maintained high-mileage car. It’s all about how the previous owner treated the ride.

If we were to choose one, we’d opt for mileage. Age can be relatively insignificant, and all major age-related repairs are relatively inexpensive. On the flip side, the lifespan of most car parts are based on the mileage. Either way, if that used vehicle seems to be operating well and has clearly been well-maintained, it’d be in your best interest to pursue the deal.

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