Mileage Milestones for Vehicles

The mileage of your used car or truck is a major factor in determining the market value of your vehicle when it's time to sell.

Using mileage milestones will also help you to track the impact your vehicle's miles has on the resale value.

Milestone #1: Approximately 40,000 Miles

The mark where your car may first see a major dip in resale value occurs between 30,000 and 40,000 miles. This is due to:

  • The expiration of most manufacturer's warranties.
    • A typical manufacturer's warranty will expire at 36,000 miles, which can make vehicles less attractive to buyers because of the added expense for repairs.
  • Required scheduled servicing.
    • If you try to sell your car just before or after you hit this milestone and your maintenance hasn't been complete, the value could go down by the amount it costs to service the vehicle.

Some of the required maintenance vehicles might require at this milestone includes:

  • Replacement of worn parts, such as:
    • Brake pads.
    • Tires.
  • Changing transmission fluid.
  • A new fuel filter.
  • An inspection for preventative maintenance.

Milestone #2: Around 70,000 Miles

If you're a person who likes to trade in your vehicle early, selling your car before it hits this milestone can save you money. This is due to the need for your second major service visit—usually occurring between 60,000 and 70,000 miles—which will often increase your expenses even more than the first.

Some of the required maintenance costs you can expect to be on the hook for if you do decide to keep your vehicle past this milestone include:

  • Flushing the transmission or coolant.
  • Replacing belts.
    • Skipping this service, particularly vehicles with timing belts, could result in major damage to the engine if it breaks due to excessive wear.
  • New tires.
  • Replacing worn brake pads.
  • Checking for worn valves or hoses.
  • New spark plugs.

Milestone #3: Approaching 100,000 Miles

Most of your vehicle's original value will be lost once you hit 100,000 miles. This is due to:

  • The expiration of any warranty services.
  • Reaching the mark of your third major service visit.

Though modern vehicles will still have plenty of use left in them at this mark, the perception of most buyers is that the vehicle's life is limited. Because of this, selling before you reach 95,000 miles can increase your vehicle's resale value and appeal to a wider range of buyers.

The service requirements at this milestone will vary according the vehicle, but expect the maintenance to be similar to Milestone #2 plus:

  • A more thorough inspection of worn parts.
  • The addition of high-mileage coolants.
  • High-mileage spark plugs.

The transmission, water pumps, and other major components of the vehicle often fail as the mileage increases toward this mark, which can be another common deterrent for potential buyers.

Milestone #4: 100,000 Miles and Over

Though a used car with 100,000 miles or more may still be functioning well, the wear of the interior and exterior will usually decrease the value even further. Because of this, it often makes more sense to keep vehicles that aren't in high demand (such as vintage or classic vehicles) instead of selling them—particularly if the car is running well and paid off.

Maintenance requirements will usually be the same as they are for the first 100,000 miles, so it'll be a good idea to take the vehicle in for servicing every 30,000 to 40,000 miles to replace worn or damaged parts.

To extend the life of your car even further, consider the following:

  • Complete scheduled oil and fluid changes at a dealership or full service auto center.
    • Due to experience and training, quick lube centers may not use long-life fluids or the correct fluids for certain parts, such as those needed for steering or brakes.
  • Use synthetic fluids.
    • Synthetics are designed for longer engine life.
    • They often provide better fuel economy and improve engine performance.
  • Be consistent.
    • Mixing synthetic blends with non-synthetic blends can cause problems.
  • Find a good, honest mechanic.
    • Keep up with maintenance before your vehicle has problems.
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