How much does mileage affect car value?

    how does mileage affect car value

    While many variables contribute to a car’s worth on the resale market, mileage often takes the spotlight.

    Higher mileage generally correlates with lower price tags. On average, you can expect a 20% depreciation in car value for every 20,000 miles driven. 

    However, there are exceptions. Whether you’re buying or selling your car to a dealer or a private buyer, mileage will probably be one of the first things you’re asked about since it relates to the overall condition of the vehicle. 

    Understanding how mileage impacts vehicle value is therefore essential to making informed automotive decisions.

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    Why is car mileage so important?

    Mileage is one of the key factors determining your car’s resale price.

    The mileage on a car or van can be seen as an indicator of overall vehicle condition. High mileage often suggests that a vehicle has endured a lot of wear-and-tear and may need more servicing than a car that hasn’t covered as much ground. 

    Alternatively, lower mileage generally suggests better condition and reliability. Cars with less mileage are more likely to get better prices on the resale market, but this is by no means guaranteed. Having excessively low mileage can indicate that vehicles have had prolonged periods of inactivity, which can lead to another set of issues. 

    When buying or selling used cars, it’s essential to take mileage into account. Two cars can be completely identical in make, model, and age, but differences in mileage could make one worth more than the other. 

    However, cars with well-documented maintenance records and proper care can still offer excellent reliability and performance, even with higher mileage.

    The impact of mileage on car parts

    As the odometer ticks higher, the impact of mileage affects individual car components differently. While some parts wear more rapidly, others remain resilient. Here’s a quick breakdown:

    • Engine – High mileage increases strain on pistons, cylinders, and valves, potentially affecting engine performance and efficiency over long amounts of time.
    • Transmission – Frequent use can wear down gears and seals, leading to shifting issues and fluid leaks.
    • Suspension – Components like shocks and struts may degrade over time, affecting ride comfort and handling.
    • Body – Higher mileage cars may exhibit cosmetic wear, such as paint fading or rust, both of which impact aesthetics and resale value.
    • Tyres – Tyres lose their grip over time, reducing performance and overall vehicle safety.

    As a rule of thumb, some car components should be changed after hitting certain mileage markers. This includes the following (remember, this is only a rough estimate of expected mileage per vehicle age):

    ComponentWhen to replace
    Tyres20,000-30,000 miles
    Brake pads40,000-50,000 miles
    Brake discs80,000-120,000 miles
    Clutch60,000-80,000 miles

    What’s good mileage for a car?

    In the UK, the average car covers between 5,000 and 8,000 miles per year, according to data from the Department of Transport. However, this can vary depending on what kind of driving you do, as well as how well you maintain your car

    Car-buying dealers and financing companies know this and many finance plans assume a yearly mileage of 8,000 to 10,000. Financiers often charge more for mileage that exceeds 12,000 per year. 

    You can estimate if your vehicle’s mileage is low, high, or perfectly average for its age with some quick maths. Take 10,000 miles as the yearly average for a bit of wiggle room and multiply this by the car’s age. The result will be the rough average expected mileage for a car that old. Compare that number to the mileage on your odometer to see if you’re under or over (remember, this is only a rough estimate of expected mileage per vehicle age):

    Cars age in yearsAverage total mileage 

    The type of fuel you use can also impact mileage. Diesel cars, for example, tend to have higher mileage given their superior fuel economy while driving long distances. Company cars also rack up mileage more easily, so their average mileage shouldn’t be judged as if they were a normal passenger car.

    How much does mileage affect car price?

    how much does mileage affect price?
    Every 20,000 miles on your odometer roughly equates to your car value depreciating by 20%.

    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 laws like the ULEZ, and general wear and tear all contribute to car depreciation

    As a general rule, increases in mileage lead to depreciation in value. For every 20,000 miles added to your total mileage, you can assume around 20% to be taken off your car’s overall market value as buyers perceive these vehicles as having more wear-and-tear. This rate of depreciation can be even higher for older vehicles with significant mileage. 

    Additionally, lower mileage vehicles may still be under manufacturer warranty, something that can provide added peace of mind for buyers.
    For vintage or classic cars, however, high mileage may not necessarily correlate with lower value. Given their historical significance, these vehicles are often desired because of their age and condition.

    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?

    Yes, vehicle type and average annual mileage go hand in hand. 

    SUVs are typically designed to endure significant mileage and used by drivers for this purpose, so they usually exceed the UK national mileage average. In comparison, luxury vehicles boast the lowest annual numbers of miles driven per car type and often require more frequent maintenance. For electric cars, mileage is closely connected to EV battery charge and lifespan.
    In terms of fuel type, diesel cars tend to attract drivers who frequently hit the roadn for longer distances and herefore tend to have higher mileage. However, this has to do with buying habits rather than vehicle dependability (remember, this is only a rough estimate of expected mileage per vehicle age):

    Car typeMileage expectationAverage annual mileageDurability and longevity
    SUVs😁 Higher12,000 to 18,000 milesRobust construction, withstands rough terrain and heavy loads
    Sedans🙂 Moderate10,000 to 15,000 milesReliable with proper maintenance, often exceeding 100,000 miles
    Trucks😐 Varied15,000 to 20,000 milesEngineered for durability and rugged use
    Electric/Hybrid😐 Lower 10,000 to 15,000 milesLower maintenance needs, longer intervals between service visits
    Luxury Vehicles😐 Lower8,000 to 12,000 milesPremium status, meticulous maintenance required


    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 100,000 miles (with proper maintenance). Around 50,000 to 100,000 miles, major components such as timing belts and water pumps may require replacement. 

    Beyond 100,000 miles, wear on critical engine and transmission components increases, necessitating more frequent repairs. 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. 

    Can you sell a car with mileage discrepancy?

    Selling a car with mileage discrepancy can lead to legal issues and distrust from buyers. Mileage is documented during your vehicle’s annual MOT test. Hold onto these documents for transparency and to avoid potential disputes when selling your car

    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, 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. 

    How can I track the value of my car?

    If you’re not sure what your car’s value is to begin with, it’s hard to know how much money mileage might take off the price.

    All vehicles depreciate at varying rates, with no rule of averages accurately describing any one car’s changing value. Motorway’s Car Value Tracker provides a free, reliable monthly price alert for up to six vehicles at once. 

    Follow changes to your car’s value to choose the best time to sell, and make informed choices about investments in your car’s maintenance.

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    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 to maintaining your car’s value. Understand your car’s worth in the wider market.