Modern cars, trucks, and SUVs are typically designed to travel hundreds of thousands of miles. A well-maintained vehicle can often have an odometer reading of 200,000 miles or more and still provide a safe and comfortable ride. When shopping for a high-quality used car, most people look for low-mileage vehicles with no body damage that looks like it’s been properly cared for. Low mileage isn’t always a plus, though. Keep reading to learn why buying used cars with low mileage can lead to more trouble.
What Is Considered a Low-Mileage Used Car?
The term low mileage is thrown around a lot at car dealerships, and there’s actual math behind the term. The average driver in the United States puts between 10,000 and 12,000 miles on their vehicle each year. So a five-year-old car with 25,000 miles on it is considered a low-mileage vehicle, since the average five-year-old vehicle may have 50,000 to 60,000 miles on it.
A five-year-old car with 15,000 miles on it would be considered an ultra-low-mileage vehicle. While it may seem like a great idea to purchase a vehicle with very few miles for its age, you could be setting yourself up for big repair bills.
What’s Wrong With a Low Mileage Car?
In many cases, there’s nothing wrong with looking for a low-mileage vehicle. It makes sense that a car with fewer miles may be less likely to require expensive repairs during the time that you own it. However, cars with extraordinarily low mileage can have multiple problems.
Vehicles are designed to be driven regularly, and a low-mileage vehicle may have spent much of its life in storage, or worse, out in the open and exposed to the elements.
Three Potential Problems With Low-Mileage Cars
There are three main problems to look out for when evaluating a vehicle with fewer than average miles:
1. Dry rot. Older low-mileage cars can be susceptible to dry-rotted tires, which can be difficult to keep properly inflated. When driving, the tires can expand suddenly and break apart, causing holes, leaks, and even blowouts.
2. Dried out rubber seals and gaskets. Many rubber parts don’t age well when they aren’t in use. A car with ultra-low miles may be more likely to develop oil leaks if the rubber seals and gaskets break apart.
3. Fluid problems. Oil and gasoline can attract moisture when they sit for prolonged periods of time, which could damage the engine. Transmission fluid and antifreeze can also leak out over time, as well.
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