Mileages and misconceptions? - Statistical outlier
We all know that they tend to be two schools of thought within motoring. One group of people tend to like buying their vehicle new, or nearly new, and then they get rid of the car before it starts to cost any cash (I?m thinking of a friend who is getting rid of his Leon Cupra at 60k because he doesn?t want an unreliable car). The other group prefer to buy old and cheap, and get the maximum use out of the car for minimum money. Bangeromics is the term I think.

As far as I can see, for low mileage drivers these are probably the two sensible options available to them. It?s a sliding scale, and the choice will largely be made on preference, budget, and depends on whether the car needing regular attention and not being 100% reliable is acceptable to you.

However, as long as my assumptions and logic hold, then I'm not sure this is true for the high mileage motorist. I'm assuming:

· Corrosion and other age related problems will not be accelerated by high mileage use
· Electrical systems have a lifetime measured in years and not miles
· It is possible to replace mechanical systems, up to and including entire engine and transmission systems, in order to keep the car running properly

If the above are true, I think there is some widespread wooly thinking on the economics behind changing a high mileage newish car.

For example, my car is a common rail diesel, and therefore many people have advised me against trying to run it to very high mileages. They warn that it will need new fuel pumps, for example, by 150,000 miles, at a possible cost of £1000. This is just one cost that I will likely incur. I can also imagine needing new suspension, drive shafts, possibly gearbox, possibly even the engine.

Even if all the above does need replacing, which might come to £5,000, I will hit that mileage in about four years. As long as my three assumptions above are actually correct though, by spending that £5,000, I could end up with a completely sound car. Especially if the engine etc had been changed, I would have something approaching a new car for less than a quarter of the cost.

Is this flawed logic? Am I living in cloud cuckoo land?

There's always talk of old cars being uneconomic to repair because the cost of the repair exceeds their book value. I just wonder that, on a car that's been well looked after, whether this misses the true cost of changing. In the example above, my friend could have the cam belt changed and other minor problems fixed on his Cupra for £1000. Even if he spend another £500 having it chipped up to 225 bhp, he would still only have spent 10% of what he will spend changing the car. To me that makes changing a car he admits he loves financial madness, although he doesn't see it that way. (By the way, I know it?s entirely legitimate to just want a change, I?m only questioning the financial side of this).

What do people think?

Mileages and misconceptions? - NARU
It not just the cost of the running repairs on an older car - for someone like me who uses his car every day it can sometimes take me a month to find a convenient day when I can work from home just for a standard service. An unreliable car, or one which needed to visit the garage more often than once every 3-4 months would be a major headache.
Mileages and misconceptions? - stunorthants
I bought a car for £200, spent £400 servicing and changing anything that was past its best ( but still working ) and now I have an utterly reliable car which cost me about as much as the deposit on a new car. I would point out though, that you can almost exclusively only do this with a well cared for japanese car as they seem to have an inate ability to keep going and stay reliable long after they should have expired.
Mileages and misconceptions? - M.M
Stunorthants. Funny you mention the £400 spend on a £200 car. £400 is the figure I set aside for any car at any price bought used to get it up to scratch. Like your example I always do the work rather than waiting for failures. My check list is a major service, coolant & brake fluid changes, timing belt, any existing faults and then look at the known issues for that particular model. Then you can drive a nice reliable car from day one rather than using something with a list of existing faults that never get repaired... just added to.

I can't agree with the Japanese only thing though. Broadly speaking most cars will give trouble in the component area rather than structural, engine or transmission failure... if you understand the "£400 spend" idea many makes can be brought back to life to give many years extra service.

Mileages and misconceptions? - Gromit {P}
IMO, it makes most economic sense to run a car for as long as possible. That means buying in good condition - or restoring to good condition and then keep going until the first suggestion of recurring unreliability (but how to judge that is another question!).

For high mileage drivers, that suggests a new or nearly-new car which is run to (say) 150,000 miles, which any well-built car should survive without trouble. It suggests that a young ex-fleet car with high initial mileage is best, as age will begin to take its toll around the 10-12 year mark irrespective of mileage.

What the second-hand market will bear is a factor too. Joe Public is still wary of anything with over 100,000 miles on the clock, so if you change regularly that suggests a trade-in at 90,000 or else run the car all the way to the breaker's yard. The market is different in France and Germany, for example, where cars depreciate slower, are kept by their first owner for longer, and still sell second-hand at mileages that a UK buyer would run from.
Mileages and misconceptions? - cheddar
As a car gets much older it can mean spending more than its worth to keep it going in good order, otherwise you logic is sound.

Re the CR diesel, as per another thread recently my Mondeo has done 110,000 miles, it still drives as virtually as new and has been relatively trouble free, if it were to require an expensive CR related repair then that woukld easiliy be covered by the £4000 - £4500 saving in fuel costs over that mileage compared to a 2.0 petrol engined car. If it went another 40k plus without serious expeniture it would have saved over £5000 in fuel costs and a major over haul of the CR system would be somewhat cheaper than the new engine that many petrol engined cars would be needing at around that mileage.
Mileages and misconceptions? - M.M
Thing is "worth" is a difficult term to pin down Cheddar.

I drove the kids to school this morning in a vehicle with value of £1500... but it had an equal "worth" in terms of the job it performed to the new version of the same vehicle that parked behind me... that has a value of £30,000.

I would not argue though that the high mileage business user/commuter has no time to experiment with this theory and new/nearly new often makes sense for them.

Mileages and misconceptions? - cheddar
Thing is "worth" is a difficult term to pin down Cheddar.

Sorry, by "worth" in that context I mean market value, I agree that is different to what it is worth to the owner. My dad kept his '88 Granada on the road until this summer sometimes spending £250 on a car that had a value of maybe £200 though it offered cheap reliable motoring.
Mileages and misconceptions? - Group B
I change cars either because I get bored of them, or unscheduled repair bills start to occur. Like Gromit says judging the latter is difficult!
I bought my current Saab with 75k miles on it, I have done 45k miles in 2.5 years and it has never broken down, has only required servicing, tyres, and brakes.
So the previous owner could have had at least another 45k (and counting!) trouble-free miles out of it. He probably sold it due to boredom, which I would have done if I'd not fitted a tuning box...
I?d normally be about ready to change it for something newer/more interesting, but my spare cash is currently being diverted elsewhere, so due to the reliability I?m going to keep it for the forseeable future.

Mileages and misconceptions? - Mike H
I'm with you on this. I have a Saab 9-5 which has covered 165,000 miles titally reliably. It still has the original turbo. The clutch was replaced at 100,000. It runs perfectly. But it's only worth aboy £1500 on a good day.

So if I run it for another couple of years, at that point it is going to need (or will have needed):

New clutch £600
Timing gear £1200
Turbo £600

I then have a mechanically sound car for £2400 - a lot of money to spend on a 9-year old car, but it would cost a hell of a lot more to replace it with an equivalent in such sound order. I could just about rake together this amount, but even if I wanted to, I can't see the point in going into debt up to the eyeballs buying a newer car.
Mileages and misconceptions? - Gromit {P}
Agreed: rather like buying a new car, its the cost to change in repairing the car you have vs. buying a newer one (which, as pointed out above, you can still expect to spend some money on) that provides the most reliable measure of whether to restore, sell or scrap.

Especially in the UK, deciding based on market value distorts matters because cars depreciate so quickly.
Mileages and misconceptions? - Happy Blue!
We are on this site because we love cars. Yes, economics has factor, but I enjoy changing cars every 18-24 months and can afford to do so, partly because I don't buy brand new cars. So unless one does an extremely high mileage (say over 25,000 miles pa), where economics can be a factor, its down to the heart!
Mileages and misconceptions? - nick
I agree with you there Espada. I love cars and driving and consider it a bit of a hobby as well as getting from A to B. So the thought of having the same car for hundreds of thousands of miles and many years horrifies me. So many cars, so little time!
Mileages and misconceptions? - cheddar
I am in the middle on this, i like driving and riding and will drive and ride various cars and bikes at every opportunity however keeping a car for a good while is satisfying, getting to know it, it becomes like a good friend rather than a passing aquaintance.
Mileages and misconceptions? - artful dodger {P}
I used to live in the world of buying new cars and keeping them for 3 to 5 years. Now this has changed with my circumstances.

My last car I bought new and kept for 16 years. During this time I had a couple of major faults - broken cam belt requiring head off and 2 new valves, 3 gear syncromesh fail so had gearbox rebuilt, and a clutch replaced. The total cost of this was small compared to the cost to change from a vehicle that suited my needs.

When I finally changed I decided to buy a secondhand vehicle (only my second!). I knew what I wanted and waited until the right model was available. Initially I spent about £250 to replace tyres and battery and have a service and MOT. In the past 2 years I have had to have the clutch replaced (ouch £800), new disks and pads, new glow plugs, plus a couple of small parts from a scrappy. At present I have one minor problem with a fuel starvation/dirty fuel or dirty injectors, which will probably cost about £200 to fix at a diesel specialist (my current garage cannot do this work). The only other likely expensive costs will probably be a new cam belt in 3 to 4 years time and a new exhaust (although still the original it still appears to be in perfect condition). If you add all of these costs up and consider the car was just over 2K two years ago, I will probably end up finding all servicing and depreciation will be a lot less than £1000 per year over the time I will own the car. Cheap motoring in a reliable and comfortable car that I love driving, besides being not so new you tend not to worry as much about the odd scratch or mark.

I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
Mileages and misconceptions? - Gromit {P}
This is a subject where the enthusiast for all things motorised comes into conflict with the bean-counter in me!

Really, there's no "best" decision if you consider running a car to be a hobby. Buy what suits your pocket and interest, and enjoy it!

But the original question here was what approach to buying and running makes most sense for either low- or high- mileage drivers. That's a decision nobody else can make for you: for example, by my count Roger's current car has been off the road maybe 6 times in two years. For him, that's perfectly acceptable - whereas I live in the country and need my car for daily transport, so if mine was off the road every 4 months it would be time to consider a change. And if you were driving for work, the cost to your business of having the car off the road at all - bar scheduled service - makes for an entirely different case again.

(Come to think of it, both cars chez Gromit have been off the road every four months for the past year, so maybe it is time for a change...)
Mileages and misconceptions? - artful dodger {P}
>>Roger's current car has been off the road maybe 6 times in two years

Clutch change and first service included a loan car from main dealership (now closed).

All servicing now at a local garage about half a mile from work. All work planned in advance so I have never been without a car when I needed it. The car is mainly used to drive to and from work. In an extreme emergency I could walk home, if my wife could not pick me up, a taxi was not available or the wait for the infrequent bus was too long.

The car has never let me down on the road and left me stranded. I have AA cover for that eventuality.

In 35 years driving I have only been left stranded miles from home a few times. The first was a broken electrical part some 10 miles from home in Kent, so was towed to a garage. The second was a shattered 3rd gear in a van at 1am near Dunstable, this involved having all the contents of the van transferred and leaving it for a gearbox rebuild. The third was a blown headgasket in Wakefield and the fourth was a cross threaded spark plug that blew out near Edinburgh. There were a few limp home times as well, like shearing two wheel studs due to rusting in out of five when changing a wheel.

By comparison my wife's old Renault Clio regularly broke down and left her stranded far more times than I ever have been.

My advice is buy a reasonably good quality car and have it sensibly maintained. The only difference is whether you buy new and can afford the depreciation, or not.

I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
Mileages and misconceptions? - Cliff Pope
I think the market value of the car has no relevance to the question of how much it is worth spending on it. The relevant comparison is between what you want the car to do for you, and how much it is worth spending in order to achieve that. That is the basis of all investment decisions invoving a revenue return.
Obviously there are different considerations if you are making a capital investment - eg restoring a car with a view to resale.
Mileages and misconceptions? - GregSwain
I've had two Nissans and only ever had one reliability problem - my first car once refused to start, but it was parked outside my house at the time, so didn't leave me stranded. My girlfriend has only had French diesels, and also never had a major reliability problem.

If I were buying a car to cover 10k a year, I'd look at the make of car, the known reliability issues, and the service history. Mileage is totally irrelevant IMO. A correctly maintained quality car should cover 200k on one engine, many cover over 400k! I'm one of the "bangernomics" people - drive it till it won't drive anymore, and a repair would be uneconomical. Change your oil every 5k, full service every 10k, coolant change every 20k, cambelt every 40k and the engine will last forever!
Mileages and misconceptions? - Statistical outlier
Greg, I agree with you. My thoughts were that if you need your car to be reliable as oyu use it for work, surely buying from new, looking after as you describe, and running well past when the car is 'worthless' makes financial sense.

I can't afford to risk having a car that's already been abused, hence I bought new, but I can't currently see why it shouldn't be possible to keep it running for a lot longer than 3 or 4 years.
Mileages and misconceptions? - Gromit {P}
"I can't currently see why it shouldn't be possible to keep it running for a lot longer than 3 or 4 years."

Much of Europe and the US agrees with you, judging by the mileages they clock up and how long people keep their cars. I know from personal experience that its not uncommon to encounter French, German or Italian-owned cars bought new and run to the grave by the same owner.
Mileages and misconceptions? - nick
That is certainly the most cost-effective thing to do. Or perhaps buying at one or two years old. But choose a well-engineered make.
Mileages and misconceptions? - Vlad2
I've gone completely the other way....Bangernomics is the way to go...I got hacked off with watching my cars depreciate like a stone and I therefore went out and tested the market with an old Merc with full service history and 150,000 miles on the clock.

7 months down the line all I've put in is petrol and and I'm upto 165,000 miles. OK I've done an oil change +filter a couple of times, but thats it.

If she comes to a grinding halt and its costs more than £250 to repair well then its curtains for the old girl and I'll start all over again. Goodbye to depreciation and hello cast iron build quality of an older Merc.

Its given me faith when I see an old W124 300D Merc down at my local MOT station that has 498,000 miles on the clock and its just breezed through its MOT.

To cap it all I've grown seriously attached to this very un-cool white Merc which my kids hate, however they do like the extra holidays that the lack of depreciation pays for.
Mileages and misconceptions? - GregSwain
I paid £370 for my 1990 Nissan Sunny 3 years ago, which I recently traded in, and got £300 p/x!! Pretty good depreciation when you only lose £70 in 3 years! The car was very reliable too, most expensive repair was a new alternator. I never intend paying over £5k for a car, if you do your homework there's plenty of bargains out there - however as Vlad2 suggests, bangernomics isn't for the image-conscious.

Plus, if your car's only worth a few hundred quid, it's much less tempting to take it to a garage for maintenence - give a bit of DIY a go, even if you're not 100% sure! A full service is easy stuff, things like brakes are also fairly straight-forward for the self-taught mechanic. Buy a car with a cam-chain and you won't even have to shell out money for belt changes!
Mileages and misconceptions? - MichaelR
I have a perhaps odd opinion on mileage and that is that whilst I am in the situation whereby resale value is of no importance to me (I am aware that it is number one priority for most), I would rather buy a car as new as possible but with as high mileage as possible to reduce its value.

It is my thinking that the following factors are independant of mileage:

a) Exterior condition - with the exception of stonechips, you don't get dents, scrapes, dinks and people ramming a trolley into your car in the outside lane of the M6. Infact, if anything, the opposite applies. If your car spends most of its daytime hours actually driving, it's not sitting in a carpark or at the side of the road being exposed to muppets.

b) Interior condition - within reason. I see no reason why the dashboard will begin to look any more scabby after 5 years of use on the Motorway than it would with 5 years use around town. Infact, again, if anything, it will be better - people doing enormous mileage are invariably driving for business and thus not carting kids around in the back. Generally, cars doing smaller mileages tend to do perhaps more frequent but much shorter trips - more use of the doors, clutch, gearbox...

c) Electrical Systems - The air conditioning, for example, isn't suddenly going to pack in any quicker becuase you spent 3 hours driving 250 miles rather than 3 hours in town doing just 100 miles.

So, I guess my ideal car is 3-5 years old, 100-150k and in immaculate condition aside from a marginally worn steering wheel and some damage on the drivers side seat bolster. Why would I pay up to twice as much for a car the same age with 3 times less mileage on it? What am I actually getting for my double-the-cash?

Mechanical components can be replaced yet you try making an interior look mint after 5 years and 50,000 miles of being Mums taxi.
Mileages and misconceptions? - MichaelR
Damn the lack of an edit button. In summary, then, I believe it is age and not mileage which is the biggest killer/degrader of cars. Which is why I'd always pick newer/higher mileage over older/lower mileage.

My Mondeo has picked up more scratches in its 2.5 years of low mileage around town that it ever did in its 3 years of doing 30k a year before I bought it.
Mileages and misconceptions? - v0n
I'm on the other side of the fence. I had, owned and driven quite a few 10 - 15 year old Japanese imports with small mileages and as long as they were maintained properly they were the sweetest, best behaving, most reliable machines on earth for me. On the other hand almost every approach to high milage car would lead to domino effect of mechanical failures. For the last decade or so you don't expect cars to rust, structural rot is pretty much thing of a past, bodypanels are very easy to replace. What kills cars in my eyes is start and stop traffic and lowered maintenance. And that's what, in my eyes, high milers do. I don't imagine them on a lonesome highway clocking miles towards sunset - I see them in what our motorways excel - start and stop mode around M25 all day every day. Noone will make me believe a car that does 35,000 miles a hear goes through three services a year, with every third being major service etc. It will be Kwik Fit slap on filter and oil change and an odd tyre replacement, you can almost bet most of the high milers never seen proper full service with all liquids and all consumables replaced throughout their life. That's just me. I will rather have older car, from private hands, with low miles and full genuine history than almost new car, with high miles and service history signed by bob, fleet manager.
[Nissan 2.2 dCi are NOT Renault engines. Grrr...]
Mileages and misconceptions? - Statistical outlier
v0n, couldn't agree more with you about not believing a high mileage fleet maintenance record. That's why I decided to buy new and keep long -- I know that I'm looking after it properly from the outset.
Mileages and misconceptions? - Mike H
I should have said in my previous post regarding my Saab 9-5 that I'm still covering somewhere about 22,000 niles a year, so depreciation and reliability are significant factors in my equation. I've got comfort, reliability and power on my side at the moment!
Mileages and misconceptions? - PoloGirl
"Noone will make me believe a car that does 35,000 miles a year goes through three services a year, with every third being major service etc."

My other half's Honda Accord diesel was new in March and is just about to get it's third service at 33k. So at that rate I'd like you to believe it's going to go through six services this year! I think it's a condition of many leases that you get the car serviced on time, certainly is with mine.

I'm in two minds about whether a high milage fleet car is a good buy though. All the Accord does is motorway stop start, and it's starting to look and feel like a three/four year old car now despite being only six months old (especially the paint quality, which is shocking). It's a workhorse - carries a lot of kit, and it's driven very hard. However, it doesn't want for anything - it just gets booked in and seen to, cost no barrier as it's all picked up by the leasing company. Other half has no complaints about it really... at least he didn't until he was introduced to my Golf!

I'd never had a brand new car before I got the Golf, and it is kind of reassuring to know that I'm going to get rid of it before it becomes an old and potentially less reliable car (also like all the toys of course!)... but when I was buying my own cars, I looked to buy ones that had already taken the depreciation hit but were still reliable enough not to cost me the earth in repairs. Polo had 110,000 miles on him when he went, and despite the cosmetic damage he had sufferred, he was still mechanically sound for a good few miles yet.

Mileages and misconceptions? - cheddar
Early/mid 90's Cavalier TD's needed an oil change every 4500 miles, I had colleagues doing 60,000 miles a year, on first name terms with the local Vauxhall dealer.
Mileages and misconceptions? - GregSwain
Early/mid 90's Cavalier TD's needed an oil change every 4500 miles,
I had colleagues doing 60,000 miles a year, on first name
terms with the local Vauxhall dealer.

That's monthly oil changes!!! How times have changed...
Mileages and misconceptions? - Number_Cruncher
Indeed - although at that time, the recommended oil change interval for Vauxhall petrol engines under normal duty was only 9000 miles.


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