How much does mileage affect car value?
Lots of things affect vehicle valuation, but mileage is up there as one of the most important. If you’re looking to sell your car, either to a dealer or to a private buyer, you may find this is one of the first things they ask about.
Why is car mileage so important?
Mileage, as the name suggests, is the total number of miles your car has driven. Essentially, it’s an indicator of how well-used your car is. A car with more mileage has basically worked more, so this may result in more servicing being needed than on a car that hasn’t covered as much ground.
Two cars might be completely identical in make, model, and age, but mileage can still be the factor that makes one car worth more than the other. A low mileage car will be more likely to get a better price than a car that has a higher than average mileage, but this is by no means guaranteed.
Car parts and mileage
High mileage also reflects the sort of wear and tear a dealer or buyer will expect from a car. A low mileage car, for example, will likely have brake pads that are still in good condition. Tyre condition, unless you have recently changed them, will also be affected.
Here are the parts of a car that are impacted by the wear and tear of high-mileage use, and how often they should be replaced. If your car is seven years old and has never had its tyres replaced, for example, then you may want to consider getting fresh ones to improve the offers you get.
|Component||When to replace|
|Brake pads||40,000-50,000 miles|
|Brake discs||80,000-120,000 miles|
When you are selling your car, you should also think about how you drive. A daily school run on urban roads will impact a car far less than long-distance drives across varied terrain in rural environments.
What’s good mileage for a car?
The average mileage for a car in the UK is between 5,000-7,000 miles per year, but this changes year on year. Data from the Department of Transport shows that as a nation of drivers, we are still generally within the 5,000-7,000 bracket. In reality, you may find your mileage is closer to 8,000-10,000 miles per year. Car-buying dealers will know this, as do companies that allow you to buy your car on finance. Most finance plans assume a yearly mileage of 8,000-10,000 and will charge more for mileage that exceeds 12,000 per year.
So, let’s assume 10,000 is the yearly average, by multiplying this by a car’s age in years, you should be able to reach a rough estimate of if the car’s mileage is low, high, or perfectly average.
|Cars age in years||Average total mileage|
You should take this as a rough estimate, though, as other things can also impact mileage:
- If it’s a company car
- If it’s a diesel or petrol car
Company cars will likely be driven more frequently and may have multiple drivers, so they shouldn’t have their average mileage judged as if they were an average car.
Fuel type can also play a role, and diesel cars tend to have higher mileage. This is likely due to the better fuel economy offered by diesel, so frequent drivers will naturally choose this sort of car.
How much should mileage affect car price?
It can be hard to pinpoint the exact price differences that have been incurred by mileage alone. Other factors such as plate changes, cosmetic wear, local demand due to new laws like the ULEZ, and general wear and tear all contribute to car depreciation.
New cars will depreciate fastest, losing up to half their value within the first year. After this, cars can continue to depreciate at a rate of around 10% per year, though things like high mileage and poor maintenance will make this figure higher.
As a general rule, for every 20,000 miles added to your total, you can assume around 20% to be taken off your car’s overall value.
Is high mileage always bad?
High mileage isn’t the end of the world. Like we said, it’s just one aspect of your car’s valuation, so if you are shown to take good care of your car with documented service history and generally keeping it looking its best, you still have a good chance at a buyer. A car that’s three years old, well-cared-for, but just well-used, may still find a buyer compared to a neglected car of the same age, but with lower mileage.
Does mileage change for car type?
We mentioned above that diesel cars tend to attract people who know they drive more often, so on average, diesel cars tend to have higher mileage. This is totally to do with buying habits rather than the dependability of the actual car, though. If you drive an electric car, things are different again, as mileage is closely connected to the lifespan and charge of the EV battery, but these, just like tyres, brake pads, and clutches, can also be replaced so it’s not necessarily the end of the car’s overall use.
At what mileage does a car die?
A well-cared-for car can last more than a decade, so you shouldn’t really expect to send your car to the scrap heap at less than 150,000 miles. Of course, with major repairs and replacements, you could get a car to cover as many as 300,000 miles, but at that point, you need to consider if such extensive repair is worth it compared to simply selling your car and finding another one.
Should I worry about car mileage?
Car mileage is not the be-all and end-all of your car’s value. So, actively trying to cut down on your mileage and inconveniencing yourself in the process isn’t the best approach. General condition, demand, location, even colour, all affect your car’s value, so concentrating on mileage alone isn’t an accurate way to view your car or assume what it’s worth.
Ready to sell your car?
Want to read more about owning, valuing and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from depreciation and maintaining your car’s value. Understand your car’s worth in the wider market.
Car trade in value – get your highest offer
How to get the best price for my car
Selling a car without a V5C
How to buy or sell a private number plate
Sell a car on finance — the ultimate guide
How to transfer car ownership
Top 5 ways to sell a car
How to sell a car for parts
Should I sell my petrol car?
How to sell an electric car
Top 10 tips to sell your car