I am looking at cars that are 2013 or 2014 model year. I found a 2014 model year vehicle for sale that has about 90K miles on it. I know this is high-mileage for a 3- or 4-year old car, but I'm used to buying used vehicles that are five or six years old in the 100K - 150K range and then driving them until 200K, so 90K is still "young". (I bought a Prius 4 years ago with 130K miles on it, and it still runs very well.)

I don't drive a whole lot, maybe only 9000 miles a year, and I live in the Arizona desert in an area with good roads, so don't worry about rust or a lot of wear and tear. So it seems like a decent value to me.

Here is my question:

What is the downside of buying a 3-4 year old used car with 90K miles on it, compared to one of similar age but lower mileage? (30K-60K miles) Is that extra 30-60K miles really equivalent to a year or two less life?

  • I don't think anyone can really answer that properly, it is different from vehicle to vehicle (some vehicles can handle high mileage others start to reach their "breaking point"), also how the miles were put on the vehicle (highway or city driving) and then comes the question of how the vehicle was maintained. This is a too broad of a question to answer. But to give you a general non specific answer, the downsides might be that the maintenance is going to be high as those vehicles are close to reaching a milestone?
    – method
    Mar 4, 2017 at 5:41

1 Answer 1


90K miles is nothing. High quality cars such as the Prius you bought should last twice that number of miles, assuming here that the use is not the most severe (like stop-and-go city driving).

Do you have any more information about the history of the car? Obviously, you shouldn't purchase any car without proper maintenance records. But I mean what kind of use the car saw during its life. Was it driven on highways or in the city? Typically, high mileage means highway driving which is not as bad as city driving, but high mileage can also mean that the car used to be a taxi in the city.

Not everything in the car ages as a function of miles. For example, rust and rubber parts degrading happen at old age, not at high miles. Because the car is only three years old, you should not have any problems related to rust or degradation of rubber.

Whatever you choose to do, do a careful test drive and investigate the car very thoroughly. I'm sure you can on this site find many questions about purchasing used cars that have checklists of things to check as answers.

I would also try to find statistics about the mandatory vehicle inspection for the car model you're planning to buy. These reveal what are the failure rates at high mileages, and also which components are the most likely to fail. See Where can I find statistics regarding car life expectancies? for few helpful links.

Do also check the maintenance schedules for the car, and see how much the remaining services cost. For example, 90K miles may mean you need to replace the coolant soon. It also may mean you need to replace the timing belt soon (if the car has a timing belt; I would prefer cars that have a chain instead).

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