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What is Considered High Mileage on a Car?

Thanks largely to the improved quality of automotive parts, today's vehicles are lasting longer than ever before. Still, there comes a point in the life of every vehicle when its mileage climbs so high that issues are bound to occur.

Whether you are considering purchasing a used vehicle or trying to determine how much more life you can expect from your current one, it's important to know what is considered high mileage and the potential issues that can arise when the odometer climbs too high.

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What is a High Mileage Car?

It can be a little tricky to pinpoint what is considered high mileage for modern vehicles. It's always been a common rule of thumb that any vehicle over the 100,000-mile mark is well past its prime. Yet, today's vehicles often demonstrate longevity far exceeding this mark. According to JD Power, most modern vehicles should be able to reach 200,000 miles without any major breakdowns as long as the vehicle has been properly maintained. Since most Americans drive roughly 13,000 miles per year, this means that most vehicles will be able to withstand about fifteen years of service before they begin to fail.

What Are the Risks of a High Mileage Car?

Mileage isn't the end-all-be-all when it comes to determining how much wear and tear has been placed on a vehicle's components, but there is a strong correlation between the two. The more a vehicle has been driven, the more its parts are likely to wear down and need to be replaced. The problem is that the value of a used vehicle is constantly depreciating while the cost of replacement parts stays the same. It means there comes a point in every vehicle's life when the cost to repair it will exceed the vehicle's value.

The tendency for automotive parts to wear out over time applies to almost every component in your vehicle—from brakes to transmission to electrical system. Buying a high-mileage car is risky because wear and tear on critical parts can often go undiscovered until a component finally fails, and you find yourself broken down at the side of a road.

Purchasing a used vehicle with many miles on it can be a great way to get a lot of value for your money, but it's always important to do your research. Check the vehicle's maintenance history to ensure it has been properly maintained and, if possible, have it inspected by a trusted mechanic. Likewise, if you already own a vehicle that is getting a little long in the tooth, be sure to keep it well-maintained and always give it a good inspection before you take it on any long trips.

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