Consumer Reports: Is Age or Mileage More Important on a Used Car?

The car buying process is stressful enough as it is. These days the process also adds supply issues, sky-high prices, and a pandemic. Consumer Reports has some tips on buying a used car, such as the importance of mileage and age. Don’t overlook getting an inspection, a Carfax report, and considering the technology included with the vehicle.

Consumer Reports: Consinder the age vs. mileage

Consumer Reports: Is Age or Mileage More Important on a Used Car?
Consumer Reports: Is Age or Mileage More Important on a Used Car? | Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

When it comes down to it, buyers are often faced with choosing an older vehicle or a vehicle with more miles. Especially these days, when cars sit on lots of short periods of time unless there is something undesirable about it. Consumer Reports says that there are a few ways to get the information needed to buy a good car.

One of the first suggestions was to check the maintenance and repair records thoroughly. Ideally, the previous owner maintained the car at the correct intervals throughout its former life. If the mileage is suspiciously low, it is a good idea to check how long it has been on the lot. Gabe Shenhar, associate director of Consumer Reports’ auto test program, notes that buyers do not want a car that has been sitting for a while.

Sometimes, vehicles with higher mileage might need an expensive repair right away. Two examples could be a timing belt or fuel pump replacement. If that is the case, be sure to factor this into the price of the car.

Consumer Reports says extra safety features are worth buying

In addition to this, it is a good idea to consider the technology. Jennifer Stockburger from Consumer Reports says, “I would lean more toward newer vehicles, even if it has more miles.” This doesn’t just mean the seats or Apple CarPlay, but with safety features. Vehicles make giant leaps between years with safety and fuel economy.

Some of the safety equipment could include electronic stability control, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, and various other things. These features make you and other drivers safer. So if the vehicle has 5,000 more miles but is three years newer, it might make sense to pick the new car if it has been well-maintained.

The next step suggested is to have the car inspected by a shop that does diagnostic work. This could cost between $100 and $150 but will uncover any issues lurking. The mechanic can write up a detailed report with prices to better understand what the vehicle needs.

A few more tips for buying a quality vehicle


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Getting a Carfax report for the vehicle is a good idea, but not enough on its own. Not everything gets reported to Carfax, so getting it in addition to an inspection is recommended. If there is a particular type of vehicle you are looking for, check some prices online before heading to the local car lot. Places like AutoTrader, CarMax, and Edmunds can give prices on similar vehicles.

Overall, there are a few ways to get a quality used car without buying a new vehicle. Hopefully, you will find any issues ahead of time by putting in a little work and research. Buying a used car might seem stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.