When it comes to buying a used car, age and mileage are two of the key considerations which will affect both the condition of the vehicle and its price tag – as well as your decision whether to seal the deal or not. But is used car mileage more important than age, or vice versa? The answer isn’t quite as simple as either of those options.

What’s in a number?

As key indicators of how far through its lifespan a vehicle is, age and mileage are both important points to consider when weighing up whether to buy a used car or not. However, they’re both entirely relative.

For example, a 10-year-old car with 100,000 miles on the clock could be in far better shape than a five-year-old one with half that mileage, if the owner has been more assiduous in their maintenance of the vehicle. Similarly, a car that has been used mostly on motorways and for long-distance journeys is likely to suffer fewer problems than one which has spent the majority of its life in the stop-start traffic of a busy city.

With that in mind, it’s important to look at the car’s condition, service record and list of previous owners before making a decision. Used car mileage and age are both useful indicators of its value – but with no context, they can only tell you so much.

What’s the best age to buy a used car?

Following on from all of the points discussed above, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best age to buy a used car will vary from vehicle to vehicle, with the car’s previous history a far bigger factor in whether it represents a sensible purchase or not.

However, it may be helpful to consult some statistics to inform your decision. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), the average age of a used car at the time of scrappage was 13.9 years in 2015 in the UK. The average age of a used car on the road, meanwhile, was 7.8 years.  

With that in mind, it makes sense to steer clear of cars over eight years old, since you’ll be buying one above the average age. Generally speaking, buying a second-hand car that is under five years old is likely to stand you in good stead for many years. Of course, an older model will almost certainly be significantly cheaper, while there are definitely good deals to be had even with cars that are in double figures.

Do your homework

Taking all of that information into account, the simple answer to the question posited in the title of this article is that neither age nor mileage is more important than each other in isolation. Instead, each will have a bearing on the car’s overall condition, but that condition must take pride of place when it comes to making a final decision when you’re buying a car or looking to finance a used car online.

Don’t rush into any deals, make sure you do your due diligence and research a car thoroughly before you sign on the dotted line. Sticking to that advice will ensure you avoid any nasty surprises and keep you on the straight and narrow when it comes to buying your next vehicle.

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