Buying a pre-owned vehicle? Consider its Age vs. Mileage

Understanding how car age and car mileage affects the price of a pre-owned vehicle

Reuben Van Niekerk
pre-owned cars
car age
car mileage

When shopping for a pre-owned car buyers need to try find the optimum balance between age and mileage.

Understanding how these factors impact a car’s overall condition and which is more important is vital when making a purchasing decision.


In most cases car age and car mileage work against each other in the manner that the market prices pre-owned vehicles.

While mileage drives down the price, the newer the vehicle the higher the price will be.

Two identical cars with the same mileage, but differing by a year in terms of their first registration could differ as much as R50 000.


Mileage directly relates to how much a vehicle was driven. A good rule of thumb is 15 to 20 000km per year, anything more than this is considered high mileage.

The higher the mileage, the higher the wear and tear, but mileage is not the only factor affecting a vehicles condition.


When inspecting a vehicle, it is important to try and ascertain how it was used. A bakkie that has high mileage from highway driving will most probably be in better condition than a bakkie that has a lower mileage but spent its life on dirt roads.


How vehicles were stored and cared for can also have a bearing on their condition. A high mileage vehicle that was washed regularly and parked undercover will be in a much better condition than a low mileage vehicle that was not cleaned regularly and spent its life in the sun.


Cars with high-mileage in relation to their age might very well have many years of trouble-free use in them still, especially if they have been properly maintained. It is therefore very important to enquire whether the vehicle in question has a full service history and if any major components have been replaced. Well maintained vehicles can continue to serve their owners reliably assuming that you continue with the routine of regular maintenance.


“Naturally there are advantages to buying a newer model vehicle. New cars will feature the latest technology in terms of engines, infotainment and safety and if that is important to you, it could be worth paying the premium,” says the CEO of Motus Retail and Rental SA, Corné Venter.

Newer cars should also be cheaper to maintain in the medium term as they may still be covered by a manufacturers service plan or warranty. Major components like a timing belt, CV joints and shock absorbers, which can be costly to replace as the mileage creeps up, will still have a few years life in them.


Finding the right vehicle

All vehicles listed on, irrespective of their mileage are subjected to a comprehensive inspection before being listed for sale, ensuring that they are in a good, roadworthy condition.

“Search filters on the website allow shoppers to search for specific models at the age and with the mileage that suit their pocket, allowing shoppers to strike the balance between these two important factors,” added Venter.


Also remember to ask these 8 important questions when buying a pre-owned vehicle.