Age vs mileage: which is more important when buying a used car?

While age and mileage are crucial in determining the value of a used car, expert advice leans towards lower mileage.
While age and mileage are crucial in determining the value of a used car, expert advice leans towards lower mileage.
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Used car buyers often face a difficult choice: should they choose an older car with lower mileage or a newer one with higher mileage? Which option is better?

Car pricing experts at getWorth price thousands of used cars each month, analysing market data extensively. Colin Morgan, getWorth’s head of pricing, provides an example.

“Imagine you are considering two options for the same car, selling for the same price. One is a 2021 Kia Picanto 1.2 Street Auto with low mileage — 20,000km. The other is a 2022 model but it has 50,000km. Which one offers better value?”

Morgan said market data provides a clear answer.

“The used car market acts like a weighing machine. The prices cars sell for indicate what consumers are willing to pay for different ages and mileages. Our algorithms analyse this data and can precisely determine the market values for these two cars. A year of age on this Kia Picanto affects the price by 6% and each kilometre adds 42 cents. This means these two cars should be almost identical in price.”

“However, our in-house preference is slightly different. We tend to favour lower mileage over age. Personally, I would choose the older car with lower mileage.”

Morgan explained the reasons for the getWorth house view. It is mostly use and wear on components that affects a car’s mechanical condition. The age of the parts makes less of a difference. 

Lower mileage usually means the car is in better condition cosmetically as well.

“If you assume the same driver habits, the higher mileage car will have had 30,000km more time in the driver’s seat, wear on the carpets, time on the road with little stone chips and scuffs and so on.”

Warranties, services and maintenance plans can also affect the price. For example, a car with an additional year on its manufacturer warranty and service plan might save you money on a service and present a lower mechanical risk.

While age and mileage are crucial in determining the value of a used car, expert advice leans towards lower mileage, which usually means less wear and tear on mechanical components and better overall condition. Ultimately, understanding your personal priorities and the vehicle's history is key to making the best decision.


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