Should I be Buying a Car with Over 100K Miles?

When a brand-new vehicle seems like an unattainable feat, the second-hand market subtly reveals its appeal. Beyond expected component degradation, is there any flipping switch after a car reaches 100K miles that triggers a red flag?

Maybe you’ve considered a brand-new car before but then realized it’s hardly ever worth the cost, you’re now snooping around the second-hand market considering buying a car with over 100K miles in hopes of finding a bargain.

What bothers you is the good old car curse. Yes, the one promising to doom your wallet to drip for all eternity and beyond.

The good news is that nothing magic happens to a car after it reaches 100K miles, so fear not.

Pick a good mechanic as your ally and in the meanwhile, make sure to conduct a background investigation on the seller, these are two of the main rules when purchasing a second-hand vehicle.

A bad mechanic, unable to tell apart good components from ones on the verge of breaking down is as useful for you as drinking and driving.

Be patient, in order to strike the perfect deal, you may have to put in some work. Wait a little longer, carefully watch the market and in the end, you shall be rewarded for your efforts.

Is It Good to Buy a Car with Over 100K Miles?

Timing, patience, character judging skills, vehicle age, and a good mechanic are the key aspects to choosing the right car, not the mileage.

Yes, buying a car with over 100K miles may be risky, but so is leaving the comfort of your bed every day and you still do it.

Your available budget will dictate if it’s a good or bad decision, it’s up to you to find the right balance between affordability and the car’s conditions.

A car with more than 100K miles is already “past its prime”, usually worth around 50% of its original value.

But this doesn’t mean it’s falling apart, if the car is from a reliable brand and the previous owner took good care of it, then it should easily run another 100K miles without any major issues.

A good second-hand from a trusted brand will likely be a better investment than a brand-new model known for its regular visits to the workshop.

What Happens to a Car After 100K Miles?

buying a car with over 100k miles

What exactly happens to a car after it reaches 100K miles? Actually, nothing unexpected.

A car near this mileage mark should have nothing more than basic service done in order to guarantee it’s ready for the miles to come after, it’s worth having a look at some components before they wear out at this point in time.

These are the components that typically start to wear out or present minor problems at 100K miles:

  • Timing belt
  • Water Pump
  • Tires
  • Battery
  • Brakes
  • Spark plugs
  • Fluids

If the person you’re negotiating with is aiming to sell you a car in mint condition, then basic maintenance should already be taken care of, followed by proper records of every job that has been done.

How Much Does a 100K Mile Tune Up Cost?

Don’t sweat it if the seller didn’t have basic maintenance yet, this is a great opportunity to bring down the price.

Every vehicle is different, and so is every tune-up and its cost. Every tune-up will be specific, even for vehicles of the same model with the same mileage.

On average, a 100k mile tune-up will cost anywhere between $1000 and $3000.

The cost of replacement parts is also worth considering while looking into buying a car with more than 100K miles.

The average cost of replacements

  • Transmission fluid between $230 and $475
  • Brake fluid $80 to $120
  • Engine Oil and filter $65 to $125
  • Timing belt$300 to $500
  • Spark plugs$66 to $250
  • Coolant$100 to $200
  • Air filters $40 to $85
  • Battery$45 to $250
  • Water Pump$40 to $80 ($150 to $500 if the water pump is electric)
  • Tires$20 to $35 per tire (cost of service alone)
  • Brakes $300 to $800

Old cars take the advantage on this one. The older the model, the higher the chance is the replacement parts will be on the lower end of the spectrum price-wise.

What is The Most Reliable High Mileage Car?

Whether the car you pick is large or small, cheap or expensive, ugly or gorgeous, reliability alone is reason enough to justify the purchase.

Buying a car with over 100k miles makes little room for mistakes, you want to make sure you buy the right one.

Luckily, thousands of people have done it before you, and numbers never lie.

Below, you can find the two most reliable second-hand vehicles sold across the U.S.:

The Best Used Pickup Truck

buying a car with over 100k miles

Ford F-150

Ford F-150 is America’s most iconic truck, not only for its reliability, but also for the powerful, yet exceptionally quiet engine.

Older models last on average between 150K and 300K miles, anywhere in between these numbers is where users usually start to report major repairs.

Newer generations may have even better engineering and be prepared to last much longer, turning 300K miles into a walk in the park.

Although you may pay a little more upfront if you opt for a used Ford F-150 rather than another option, its maintenance costs tend to be pocket friendly and guaranteed to pay off down the road.

The Best Used Compact Car

buying a car with over 100k miles

Honda Civic

Why is Honda Civic so popular?

In a few words, fuel efficiency, affordability, and reliability.

Whether it’s new or used, just about any Honda Civic will easily reach more than 300K miles. In fact, there are several Civics for sale with more than 200K miles in about every state of the U.S.

It’s cheap, long-lasting, fuel-efficient, and safe. The average owner only spends about $370 per year on maintenance.

With its affordability and long-lasting engine, the Honda Civic seems like a no-brainer, no wonder why it’s America’s first choice when it comes to reliability.

What Are The Best Websites to Search For a Used Car?

1- AutoTrader

2- CarGurus

3- AutoTempest

At What Mileage Does a Car Break Down?

As you may have guessed, even brand-new cars could break down at any time.

Although there’s an overwhelming number of variables that could lead to a car breaking down sooner than later, usually, 200K miles is where the sweet spot is.

Once again, this doesn’t mean that after 200K miles your car will break down, these numbers are just averages.

Cars with over 100K miles typically start by showing minor problems, you’ll need to be on the lookout for things like tires, springs, belts, plugs, etc.

Cars with over 200K miles usually present costlier problems such as fluid leaks, clutch, paint, coils, transmission, engine, and so on.

A well-maintained car from a reliable brand will often surpass these marks with ease while still being economical.

How Many Miles is Too High for a Used Car?

The answer depends on several factors such as the number of owners, records of maintenance, and how often the car has been used.

Having these accounted for, we believe 200K miles may be the edge between a safe purchase and disaster.

Some serious issues might start to pop up around this time, especially if the car belongs to a less reliable brand and has taken a beating.

Still, oftentimes a car that was used on a daily basis proves to be a better deal than one that hasn’t been touched in months. Some mechanisms need to be running frequently and to be lubricated in order to prevent rust accumulation and function properly.

The Bottom Line

Buying a car with over 100K miles may be a smart decision if you want to have the comfort of a personal vehicle without compromising your income.

A well-maintained used car still has plenty of life ahead for many miles to come after 100K, as long as you pay attention to its needs.

Tune-ups are likely to be friendlier for older models. Parts are usually easier to find, use less technology, and exist in abundance. The exact opposite of newer models.

Just as important as the mileage is the brand and its reputation in the market. Some vehicles from reliable brands can take a beating and live to tell the story, others will faint as soon as you slam the driver’s door.

Need to buy a car but have a bad credit score? 

Check out this article to find out how.

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