Is Buying A Car With 100K Miles A Bad Idea?

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: May 24, 2022

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Is buying a car with 100K miles bad? | Be The Budget

For some, buying a high-mileage car — in particular, a car with over 100k miles — might seem like a risky purchase. So, if you are saving to pay cash for your next set of wheels, you might be wondering, is buying a car with 100k miles a bad idea?

No, buying a car with 100K miles is not a bad idea. In fact, there are a number of benefits to buying a high-mileage car. For example, cars with 100K miles depreciate slower than low-mileage cars, cost less to purchase, and come with significantly lower insurance premiums.

In the rest of this article, we will dive deeper into why buying a car with 100,000 miles can actually make a lot of sense.

Let’s begin.

Benefits Of Buying A Car With 100K Miles

If you are looking to save money on your next car purchase, buying a high-mileage car is a great way to do it. Here are some of the main benefits of buying a car with 100,000 miles:

1. Lower Purchase Price

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cost of a new car, as of January 2019, was $37,149? (source)

Let’s be honest, the price of a brand new car has reached a level that almost forces the average American to take on debt to purchase it. In other words, if you want to save to buy a brand new car in cash, it will take an extremely long time. Too long.

That’s why a car with 100K miles can be so appealing; they are much less expensive. Sure, you might not get the latest technology that comes with new cars these days, but do you really need that. I mean, if a car can get you from point-a to point-b without breaking your bank, or causing you to go into debt, isn’t that better anyway?

Since cars with 100K miles or more cost significantly less money, it’s reasonable to save up and pay cash for them outright. That means you won’t have any debt, you won’t have to pay any interest, and you’ll have the freedom of debt-free cash-flow.

The lower purchase price of a high-mileage car is a wonderful choice when it comes to your financial life.

2. Slower Depreciation

Did you know that the value of a brand new car will decrease by 20% – 30% in its first year? (source)

That means that if you purchase a car for $40,000, 12 months later, it might only be worth $28,000. I don’t know about you, but in the world of personal finance, (and common sense), investing in something that loses $1,000 per month is a bad decision.

You wouldn’t invest in a mutual fund that loses 30% per year. So, why is it acceptable to buy a car that does?

The second benefit to purchasing a car with over 100K miles, is that its rate of depreciation is significantly slower than a new car. For example, if you buy a 10-year old car with 100K miles on it for $8,000, you may only see it depreciate a thousand dollars per year; maybe even less.

Honestly, when a car reaches a certain amount of mileage, the value is more determined by what somebody is willing to pay for it, rather than the going rate.

For example, my wife and I bought a used car with 104,000 miles on it, a little over a year ago for $6,600. (We paid cash, so we were able to negotiate a pretty awesome deal.) As an experiment, I decided to look up the going price for our same car, with the same amount of mileage. Guess what, they are selling for a little over $7,000.

So, because we decided to purchase a car with over 100K miles on it, we have a car that didn’t depreciate at all. In fact, we could likely sell it for a slight profit.

I guess that’s just another reason to buy a high-mileage car.

3. Cheaper Insurance

Before my wife and I learned to live on a budget, debt-free, and within our means, we each drove cars with a purchase price we couldn’t afford. And with their high purchase prices, came the added hit of expensive insurance.

It makes sense. I mean, a newer car that is worth a lot of money is a greater risk for an insurance company. Therefore, they have to charge a monthly premium that reflects that risk.

As painful as it is to admit, my wife and I were paying close to $500 per month on car insurance. Ouch.

Fast forward to now, my wife and I pay a total of $160 for car insurance because we have a truck with over 50,000 miles on it, and a sedan with over 100K miles. So, we have reduced our annual car insurance cost by more than $4,000.

Important Recommendation: If you’re shopping for car insurance, here at Be The Budget, we recommend getting a free quote from Liberty Mutual. In our experience, their rates are very competitive, and at the very least, you’ll have a starting point from which to compare the rates and coverage of other insurance providers. Click here to get a free car insurance quote from Liberty Mutual.

4. Lower Registration Costs

I know that car registration costs vary from state to state, but in Colorado, older, high-mileage cars carry a significantly lower registration cost.

AS an example, the cost of registration for a brand new car, worth $30,000 in Colorado would end up somewhere around $600. Compare that to a car worth $8,000, and the price drops below $100.

These savings are really starting to add up. Between the lower purchase price, cheaper insurance, minimal depreciation, and low cost of registration, I’m having a hard time finding a reason not to buy a car with over 100K miles.

5. Reliability

One of the best reasons to buy a car with 100K miles or more, is that cars have become more and more reliable. It has gotten to the point where it’s common to see cars running well past the 200,000-mile mark.

That means a car with 100,000 miles on it, would last you more than 6 years if you drive 15,000 miles per year.

Now, I think it’s pretty obvious that some cars are more reliable than others. In fact, it’s one of the main selling points for certain cars these days.

I mean, how many times have you heard a car commercial say something like, “the longest-lasting S.U.V. on the market”?

Now, I’m no expert in the longevity of every car on the road, but when I think of reliable cars I picture a Toyota Camry, a Honda Civic, a Nissan Altima, a Subaru Legacy, and numerous others.

The reliability of vehicles these days should ease a lot of your worries when it comes to purchasing a car with 100K miles on it.

Disadvantages Of Buying A Car With 100K Miles

Like anything in life, there are two sides to every story. And while I think the advantages of buying a car with 100K miles outweigh the disadvantages, it’s important to know both sides before making a decision.

So, what are the downsides of buying a car with 100K miles?

1) Potential For Unknown Issues

At the risk of contradicting my previous point about the surprising reliability of high-mileage cars, the most obvious disadvantage of buying a car with 100K miles or more is that you may run into costly expenses.

Fortunately, you can avoid the majority of these surprises by getting a thorough inspection prior to making your purchase.

You can either take the car to a trusted mechanic or, if you have the time and ability, do it yourself.

Like any purchase, the more due diligence you do on the front-end, the less likely you will be to run into costly expenses down the road. But the fact of the matter is, no matter how thorough of an inspection you get before your purchase, a car with 100K miles on it can still run into issues.

So, if you do decide to purchase a high-mileage car, I recommend keeping a couple thousand dollars of savings stored away for any unexpected car expenses that might pop up.

2) Limited Warranty

The second disadvantage of buying a car with 100K miles on it is that the warranty will likely be expired.

And while many newer cars come with pretty comprehensive warranties, once that warranty expires you’re on your own when it comes to repairs and maintenance.

To combat this, I recommend staying away from luxury vehicles, which tend to be expensive to repair. Additionally, do your research on the most reliable cars to find models that will be less likely to give you trouble down the road.

3) Outdated Technology And Features

Another obvious disadvantage of older, high-mileage cars is that they tend to come with outdated technology.

Now, this may not be a big deal to everyone. But, if you’re someone who likes to have the latest and greatest features in your car, then buying a used car with 100K miles might not be the most appealing option for you.

Whether it’s a poor-quality sound system, lack of Bluetooth connectivity, or an old-school navigation system, you’ll likely be missing out on some of the newer features and technologies available in today’s cars.

Then again, this might not be a big deal to you if you’re just looking for a car that gets you from point A to point B.

4) Less Fuel Efficient

At the time of writing this article, gas prices are pushing the $5 mark. So, fuel efficiency is likely at the forefront of your mind if you’re in the market for a new-to-you car.

And while this isn’t a universal truth, older cars tend to be a little less fuel-efficient. So, if you spend a ton of time driving, and thus, a lot of time at the pump, then buying a car with 100K might not be the best option for you.

5) Lack Of Safety Features

Last but not least, another disadvantage of buying an older car is that they likely lack many of the modern safety features found in today’s cars.

Now, this isn’t to say that all older cars are unsafe. But, newer cars come standard with a lot of safety features that didn’t exist even 10 years ago.

This might not be that big of a deal if you’re an experienced driver. But, if you’re newer to the world of driving, or have teenagers who are learning to drive, then buying a car with 100K miles on it might not be the best idea.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to buying a car with 100K miles on it.

It’s important to weigh both the pros and cons before making a decision. If you do your research and are prepared for the potential issues that can arise, then buying a high-mileage car can be a great option.

If you are of the mindset that you want to buy a car with cash, you should not hesitate to look at cars with more than 100K miles. While you might not get that new car smell, you will enjoy a number of other benefits.

  • High-mileage cars come with a lower purchase price, which will allow you to save, pay cash, and avoid debt.
  • Older cars with more mileage depreciate at a much slower rate, whereas new cars will lose more than half their value in the first five years.
  • Insurance for high-mileage cars tends to be much cheaper. So, if you want to protect your monthly cash flow and make the most out of your income, a car with 100K miles might be perfect for you.
  • Depending upon the state in which you live, the registration costs for a car with 100K miles or more will be significantly less than a low-mileage car.
  • The reliability of cars these days is getting better and better. This means that higher mileage cars are more likely to last you a long time.

Have you ever purchased a car with over 100K miles on it? Or, are you considering buying one? We would love to hear your thoughts on purchasing high-mileage cars, so be sure to comment below.

Is buying a car with 100K miles a bad idea? | Be The Budget

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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  1. I just bought a 10 year old Cadillac STS, 78K miles. It drives beautifully and is quite comfortable. A new Cadillac is so far outside my budget that it’s beyond calculation.

    I’ll drive it for 5 years and then trace for another one.

  2. $500 a MONTH for insurance? Jeeze, man! And I thought it was expensive in the UK!

    I bought a Volvo S60 for £3000 9 years ago. I don’t do a lot of mileage, 3-4k a year maybe, but it’s now 19 years old and only has just over 102k miles on the clock today, and is still worth probably around £1500 – so it’s cost me £166 A YEAR (around 240 bucks) to buy.

    In that time I’ve only had to replace brakes, tyres, battery and recently the back exhaust (got a custom job for under £300 and it sounds sweet), and the usual servicing and i’d still go anywhere in it. Never been any trouble, has electric windows, auto box, dual zone air con, £1300 audio upgrade (paid for by the original owner at new), heated seats, full leather interior and so on. Absolute bargain and since I used to change my car every 3 years or so, it’s saved me its purchase price countless times over.

    I’ll be reading a lot more of this site, great job.

  3. Bought my sienna at 115k… now has 192k…. It is still going strong, but is beginning to need more frequent trips to the shop. I calculated all the money I spent on the initial cost, the usual maintenance and big repairs, and calculated out that the car costs me 225/ month to operate.

  4. This is amazing. I feel like every late teenager and early 20 adults should see this. This will immensely help progress their adult lives. Me almost in my mid 20s, I’m trying to find my first car. But I don’t want to have to slave my life away working for a car. We live in a society where we have to look good for others. And getting a $30,000 car without proper financial stability can be very bad. Being forced to go to work just to pay off a car, and not being able to put your health and happiness first.
    This was very informative. When school doesn’t teach these kind of things, I’m blessed that websites and articles like this exist. It gives me confidence and clarity as to why it’s smarter and more safe to get a car with high mileage (with research). Thank you.

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