I'm not sure if this is the best place to ask but I'm not sure where to ask this.

so I'm looking at two cars. Both the same make, model, year and trim. (2012 Toyota Prius) according to the carfax reports both cars have been well maintained. They are from different Dealers. And I'll be checking out both to see if there's any hidden surprises.

car A is $15.4k and has 48.2k Miles Car B is $10.99K and has 93.99K miles

So I know lower mileage is better, but in trying to figure out if it's worth the extra money, I thought it would be worth asking if the only difference between the two is one was driven a whole lot more. how that affects the value of the car and how much mileage could i expect to get from such a car if it's well maintained. Any objective measures i could look at would certainly help

  • It is difficult to give a specific answer, some low mileage cars have poor maintenance issues and some high mileage cars are better looked after, exceptions for both cases... Plus, how much, if any, work are you prepared to do that may keep the costs down... – Solar Mike Feb 27 '19 at 16:40

I always recommend to people to look at the condition rather than just the mileage. Mileage isn't always reliable as it depends on the sort of use the car has had - for example, a low mileage car that has spent all it's life doing short journeys in stop-start city traffic may well be in a worse condition than a high-mileage one that's been cruising down the motorway all it's life. Look at the service records, the condition of the trim, etc to get ideas as to how well they have been looked after.

I personally tend to go for cars that have an average mileage - which here in the UK is 10-12k/year, so for a 2012 car would be around 70-85k. You've got one above and one below that, but I suspect averages in the US are higher than they are here.

Also look at online price guides for your area, to see how much you'd expect to pay for a car of that age and condition - or look for other similar cars in the wider area and see how they are priced. Prices do vary widly according to location so we can't tell you how good or bad those prices are.

  • But a low mileage example driven by a boy racer at weekends doing burnouts is probably best avoided... Saw an advert for a Landrover once that said "only used at weekends AWDC..." that was heavily used... – Solar Mike Feb 27 '19 at 17:29

Certain things / repairs com up at certain mileages. Things like, timing-belt/chain, water pump, gear fluid change, brakes, clutch, shocks and control arms etc. are all affected by mileage and accumulate to a good deal of maintenance costs

Also some components are only designed for a certain lifetime. But that largely depends on the car. For example on certain models the automatic transmission may only be designed to last 200k miles. This is some thing that can be repaired, but usually it is not economically viable to do so.

It is important to look at the specific model to decide if 90k miles is already a lot or nothing at all.

What you also want to consider is, that a car with very low mileage for its age surly did either stand around a lot or was used mainly for really short trips. Especially short trips wear down the motor much faster, because it never gets a chance to get warmed up properly. Lubrication etc. does not work as well as long as the car is cold.


One consideration is the hybrid drive battery age vs mileage. Depending on which state you reside, the warranty is 8 years or 100,000 miles or 10 years 150,000 miles for states that meet the stricter emission standards. That means the high mileage car may be close to being out of battery coverage. I don't know how frequently the batteries fail after the warranty. At the least I would have the battery tested.

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