Car Buyers' Guide: Age vs mileage
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What’s more important when buying a used car — age or mileage?
When you’re in the market for a second-hand car, two factors have a major effect on pricing: mileage and age. Generally the older the car, the cheaper it becomes. Similarly, cars with higher mileage tend to be easier on the wallet. But what about when you compare say a three-year-old car with 100,000km on the clock to a seven-year-old vehicle that’s covered 30,000km. If you’re buying a car, should you be more concerned about its miles or its age?
Ideally, you want to find the right balance between age and mileage so, in situations like this, it’s definitely worth looking into other factors such as a vehicle’s servicing and ownership history before you hand over your cash.
While a car with high mileage is said to have its fair share of wear and tear, there’s also a good chance it’s been looked after. So, if you come across a car with a few extra kms, don’t discount it immediately.
Also, bear in mind that low mileage isn’t always a good thing, especially if a vehicle has been parked over long periods of time without use. Not using your vehicle on a regular basis can cause damage. For example, if the brake calipers or wheel cylinders aren’t being used frequently they can seize. Lack of use can also affect a car’s rubber and plastic components — things like hoses, tyres and dashboards — causing them to become dry and brittle.
Do your homework and find out a little more about the vehicle’s past life. Was it driven to the local shops on a weekly basis, or has it been sitting in a garage gathering dust? Once you have those answers, you can start to determine if you’re on to a winner.
If the vehicle is a new import, it would also pay to check whether it has had an odometer inspection to avoid any nasty surprises. There have been cases where exporters have wound back the kilometres for a few extra dollars. Look for the AA Odometer Passed sticker on the windscreen or get a history check for peace of mind.
Age is another aspect to consider during your car search. Many of us live close to the sea and, over time, the salty air combined with strong coastal winds can wreak havoc on the body of a vehicle — especially if its owner doesn’t have a garage. If you’re looking at a slightly older car, keep your eyes peeled for obvious signs of corrosion, particularly around hinge and latch panels, and roof gutters.
It also pays to consider whether a vehicle is an ex-fleet or lease car. Although these cars have a few more km on the clock, they’re generally looked after with an excellent service history. Many come with manual transmission, something that’s becoming harder to find in the used car market, and they’re often better equipped with the latest safety features, not found in older cars.
Though the age and mileage of a car is important, it goes without saying that they aren’t the only factors that should be considered before buying a used car. Do the groundwork. Dig a little further beyond the facts and figures provided to achieve a better understanding of the vehicle’s history. Always take it for an extended road test, and, if in doubt, a pre-purchase inspection can resolve any concerns. The age and mileage of a car matter, but the maintenance history of a car is what’s really important to consider.