Should I buy a high mileage car?

Buying a new car can be a daunting process – especially if you’re not familiar with the buying process and aren’t sure what you should be looking for. Parting with hard-earned cash is difficult to begin with, but the added worry brought in by the fear of buying a car that doesn’t meet your expectations can make the process especially off-putting.

Even if you’re on a tight budget, there are ways for you to save money on buying a car, without compromising on quality. High mileage cars, especially those that have been well maintained, may be a cheaper alternative to new or lightly used cars, and they can be worth considering if you’re willing to accept the downsides.

Since car mileage lifespan has increased over time, a well-maintained used car could still serve you well for thousands or tens of thousands of miles, even if it already has over 100,000 miles on the clock.


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What checks should I make before buying a high mileage car?


The internet has made buying cars a lot easier, not least of all because of the availability of handy tools like MOT checkers that can highlight a lot of problems in advance if you know the car’s registration plate.

If you are buying a high mileage car, certain checks may be carried out to minimise risk. By checking the MOT history of a car you’re looking to buy, you can make sure that it has been assessed throughout the milestone markers of its lifespan. Some examples include:

  • Wheel alignment should be checked regularly, but after 50,000 miles, the shocks and struts should be looked at.

  • After 60,000 miles, cars may need a new cambelt. You can ask for proof of this purchase by way of receipts or through using a pre-purchase mechanic.

  • After 100,000 miles, new spark plugs may be required, and these should be checked up on every 10,000 miles thereafter or if the engine misfires.

  • Coolant should be checked and replaced if necessary, at around 125,000 miles.

  • At 150,000 miles, the drivetrain seals should be checked for loss of fluid, headlights should be checked and refinished, timing chain tensioners must be looked at and renewed if they are worn, and power steering fluid needs to be looked at and be changed if required.

If you’re buying from a private seller, you should ask them questions on the car to find out if it has been properly maintained and ask for any receipts for work carried out.


The benefits of a high mileage car


The main benefit of buying a car with a higher mileage is the cheaper price. However, this can easily come back to bite you if the car hasn’t been well-maintained. With the existence of car check tools online, it’s now possible to check any car that you know the registration number of to make sure that it has a good history. If you want to check a car's service history you can complete a V888 form via the DVLA’s website.

Whilst you can check online, the best way to check a vehicles history is to review the documentation with the vehicle. You should ensure that all services have been provided by a VAT registered garage and that the vehicle has been serviced in regular intervals in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Keep in mind that lower mileage isn’t always the best thing to look for in a used car. Particularly low mileage on an old car might indicate that it has been out of use for long periods of time, or hasn’t had much motorway experience (which can be associated with greater wear and tear on the clutch and brakes).


What are the best high mileage cars?


The best high mileage cars are the cars that have been well looked after. Ex-company cars or taxis are often well maintained as they tend to have a full service history and will more than likely have been used for longer journeys. Cars that have driven on longer journeys rather than shorter journeys are often in better condition.


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