Pre-owned cars: age vs mileage

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When shopping for a pre-owned car, buyers need to find the optimum balance between age and mileage.

Understanding how these factors impact a car’s overall condition – and which is more important – is vital when making a purchase.

In most cases, car age and mileage work against each other according to market prices of pre-owned vehicles.

While mileage drives down the price, the newer the vehicle, the higher the price will be.

Two identical cars with the same mileage but differing by a year in terms of their first registration could differ as much as R50 000.

A good rule of thumb for mileage is 15 to 20 000km per year; anything more than this is considered high mileage.

The higher the mileage, the higher the wear and tear – but mileage is not the only factor affecting a vehicle’s condition.

When inspecting a vehicle, it is important to ascertain how it was used.

A bakkie that has high mileage from highway driving will most probably be in better condition than a bakkie that has a lower mileage but spent its life on dirt roads.

How vehicles were stored and cared for can also have a bearing on their condition.

A high mileage vehicle that was washed regularly and parked undercover will be in better condition than a low mileage vehicle that was unwashed and kept outdoors.

Cars with high mileage in relation to their age might well have many years of trouble-free use in them still, especially if they have been properly maintained.

That’s why it’s important to check whether the vehicle has a full service history and if any major components have been replaced.

Well-maintained vehicles can continue to serve their owners reliably, assuming the regular maintenance continues.

‘Naturally, there are advantages to buying a newer model vehicle,’ said Motus Retail and Rental SA CEO Corné Venter. “New cars will feature the latest technology in terms of engines, infotainment and safety, and if that is important to you, it could be worth paying the premium.”

Newer cars should also be cheaper to maintain in the medium-term as they may still be covered by a manufacturer’s service plan or warranty.

Major components like a timing belt, CV joints and shock absorbers, which can be costly to replace as the mileage creeps up, will still have a few years of life in them.

Zululand Observer/Val van der Walt