That’s Way Too Much: Used Car Mileage 

There are many criteria for choosing a used car. But the key characteristic, based on which a customer can draw a preliminary conclusion about its condition, is the mileage. The used car gurus from Indy Auto Man, Indianapolis, explain what mileage is adequate for a used vehicle to operate without significant financial outlays for several years. Read also detailed instructions on how to pick a low-mileage car in Indianapolis on

Factors of the Car Wear

To the greatest extent, the wear of the vehicle – its body, assemblies, components, and mechanisms – is affected by the operation mode regardless the mileage. This concept includes the load on the car, road conditions, climate, and ambient temperature, plus the quality of fuel and consumables, the timeliness of maintenance, and the driver experience. 

Wear of body elements

The car paintwork can remain in good condition for many years, even if it has never been in a garage or under a shed. Most problems with the body are associated with getting into an accident, after which foci of corrosion may appear. 

Wear of aggregates, components, and mechanisms

The higher the speed and the more stops, accelerations, and decelerations, the faster the car consumes its resource. The greatest load is typical for a vehicle used for short trips in cities like Indianapolis, where traffic is heavy. The variable driving mode significantly accelerates its wear. Sharp starting and braking, bad roads, and overload reduce the car life.

The quality of the roads on which the car traveled

Driving on empty highways is the ideal scenario for most vehicles. The car wears out much faster on rural and forest primers and off-road, where the engine and the chassis experience considerable loads. Thus, with the same mileage, different cars of the same model can considerably differ in the technical condition of the units and mechanisms.

It is impossible to know for sure where the car traveled. You should not hope the seller will give out all the truth, especially if you buy from a private seller. But you may find the clues in the model itself: it is unlikely that anyone will buy a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco for city driving only. And if the previous owner actively conquered off-roads, you may find traces of his adventures on the car’s bottom and sills. 

Influence of climatic conditions

Vehicle operation at low temperatures increases the viscosity of oils, which influences friction and, accordingly, wear of parts. This phenomenon is especially characteristic of starting and warming up the engine. In addition, the unevaporated gasoline or diesel fuel settles on the cylinder walls, worsening lubrication. At elevated temperatures, the properties of the oil also deteriorate, which naturally increases friction.

All these factors are vital when choosing a car if its mileage exceeds 60,000 miles. However, a high-mileage vehicle can preserve a much better condition than a newer one. The reason is the best-operating conditions and compliance with the manufacturer’s requirements.

How to Understand that the Mileage Is Fair 

If a car has conditional 30,000 miles, but rust is visible on the body, the door closes with the sound of a garden gate, and everything inside is threadbare, the odometer reading was likely twisted.

Do not hesitate to ask the seller why the car’s body looks this way, whether it was involved in an accident, who restored it, and how. Even if you are ready to put up with the shortcomings found, this can help to find out the truth – what the real mileage is.

There are different ways to find out the mileage of a used car. Using each of them, you can check the received readings and find discrepancies that indicate twisting. 

  • Compare the data from the service book with the odometer readings. The average car in Indiana drives 16.9 miles per year. Accordingly, for instance, from 2016 to 2022, a mileage of about 100 thousand miles can be considered normal. This figure may be less if the car was used little and rarely. But if a six-year-old vehicle has 20,000 miles on the odometer, you have every reason to check the figures. Of course, there are exceptions, but very rarely.
  • Examine the service book or other documents with marks on the maintenance. They almost always indicate the mileage at which the previous owner changed the oil and other consumables. Compare these values with the current odometer reading, given that engine oil is updated approximately every 5-7 thousand miles. 
  • Follow common sense. Even if everything is perfect according to the documents, analyze what you see. A worn-out interior, a creaky body, and falling-off interior elements decor are uncharacteristic for a tree-year-old vehicle with conditional 30,000 miles. Don’t let the numbers fool you, and trust your feelings.

Buying a used vehicle is one of those decisions that you should not rush into. Never agree on a deal with a dubious seller, but address used car dealerships with a proven reputation. Carefully inspect the car inside and out, study the documentation, take a test drive, and only then make your final decision.