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About Car Mileage

One factor that keeps on pervading for both car buyers and sellers in the Philippines is the issue surrounding mileage. The word, which is a nice portmanteau of a mile or the distance traveled and age or the age of the vehicle refers to the car's total distance that it's traveled since it was originally purchased.

The car mileage's importance on these consumers could not have been more obvious: The very feature determines the vehicle's overall value, alongside its present condition, depreciation, and other essential factors.

There's also the talk of gas mileage, which could get a bit confusing when it sits alongside the car mileage, which is termed as the average distance of a vehicle in terms of its capability to travel in a single liter of fuel. Finally, this is used as a gauge of the car's efficiency when fuel consumption is taken into the equation.

Without digressing, the average driver would often travel more than 24,000 kilometers a year. The figure goes on to differ, ranging between 40,000 to 50,000 kilometers a year for consumers who belong in other industries such as medical representatives or bank executives who are always on the go.

These numbers are a lot to cover if one considers mileage quite significantly. But just how does mileage impact a used car's value down the line? has collated everything below to answer that.

How Important is Car Mileage in Secondhand Cars?

A secondhand car's going price can never be provided without the mileage in the equation. On paper, if the car's odometer reflects low numbers, its value is retained quite sizably. The reason behind that is just as evident and logical as it is warranted: Your car's mileage serves as the window to prospective buyers as to how good the state of your car is in terms of its components. As it is, the wear and tear of the vehicle are usually more pronounced on the outside if the car had already been used for a considerable amount of time.

Less mileage also indicates that the car you're eyeing on is likely to still feature great and working brakes, suspensions, and engines. Note, however, that it is still a must to get your car checked by a reliable mechanic to fully verify your car's actual mechanical prowess.

Your Pre-Owned Car's Ideal Mileage

To iterate, the universally considered average distance of cars is 24,000 kilometers per year, which translates to an estimated 120,000 kilometers in five years. If a car's mileage goes beyond this estimation, you might want to reconsider it and hunt for another car instead.

This especially rings true in the secondhand car market where the looks of the vehicle are usually deceiving.

The Relation Between Mileage and Maintenance Milestone

Nowadays, your odometer's high kilometer reading isn't exactly a liability on your end. Modern cars in the market, for instance, can hit the 150k mark easily. But despite this high mileage, these cars are engineered in such a way that they still remain to be more resilient than previous iterations, some of these have gone beyond the 100,000 kilometers.

Note, though, that regardless of the distance your car has traveled, its value could still get an impact if it has not been subjected to regular maintenance or has been driven quite recklessly daily. If you're such a stickler in this respect, it is encouraged that you require for the car's maintenance records from the seller. These records would come from the car's maintenance record booklet usually.

This accompanying document shouldn't only save you tons of time and money in the future, but also allow you to learn pertinent details regarding all the maintenance work that was employed in the vehicle. The document should also provide you the previous owner's history, whether or not he religiously followed the manufacturer-specified service milestones. These are deemed important as this gives out the details on the schedule of maintenance procedures that were performed in relation to the vehicle's mileage.

In essence, if the maintenance interval isn't followed thoroughly, a secondhand car with low mileage can still show some issues in the long run.

Checking Your Car's Mileage

Ascertaining your car's mileage is just as easy as heading inside and checking your car's odometer. For the uninitiated, this instrument is the small rolling mechanical counter placed on the lower end of your speedometer, which in turn, displays the mileage reading.

Nowadays, cars come with digital displays. Some of these cars, however, still need to be started using the ignition to view the readout on the odometer.

Meanwhile, references like the Kelley Blue Book can also be used to source out the value of a secondhand vehicle in the market. This reference also assumes usage under ideal environments, alongside the owner's adherence to the car's maintenance interval. Note that this type of reference only covers variants that are sold in the United States.

If you're not exactly the patient kind, you can always resort to seeing an experienced appraiser who can then evaluate your car relative to its mileage performance.

Fraud on Odometers

It is important to note that not all appraisers are reliable. The same can be said with odometers of today, which can at times be fraudulent. The latter, which is referred to as "Busting Miles" in the U.S. and "Clocking" in the United Kingdom, these practices can endanger the lives of not just the driver but the passengers as well.

Currently, the Land Transportation Office admonishes people who are found to have committed such misdemeanor with imprisonment of not less than six months or a fine of up to PHP 300,000 pesos, or both.

But more on this later.

The Truth About High Mileage Cars

In theory, cars with high mileage spell trouble for future owners. But in terms of performance, modern cars with 100k to 150k mileage in them are still considered "good." There is a caveat, though. These cars must have received proper maintenance while their components should also be in good working order. In other cases, one should also be particular with which makes and brands are " bankable" on the market as these can influence a pre-owned car's future value.

How To Check a Secondhand Car For an Odometer Rollback?

Pristine as they may look at a first glance, cars should still be checked thoroughly. This is especially true in regards to the car's odometer reading, which could at times, be faulty or worse, intentionally tampered.

Dubbed as odometer rollback, the tampering is done when the equipment is manually rolled back, alongside the numbers, on a mechanical instrument that records the distance a vehicle has already traveled. But this was back in the day.

Odometers have since become digital, with the majority of which hit the road during the early 2000s. But these modern instruments couldn't get past the infamous rollback. Digital odometers can be rolled back through the removal of the car's circuit board, with the sole purpose to modify the odometer reading. Alternatively, this can be performed with the utilization of rollback equipment which can be hooked right into the car's electronic circuit.

How To Determine If Your Odometer is Tampered or Rolled Back?

One can already verify if one's car's odometer has tampered from the get-go. Through a pre-purchase inspection, the vehicle's history report can be received before buying any secondhand car.

The history report shouldn't only alert its owner of the car's damage history, but should also alert him key issues such as an unfixed recall status, lien status, and a lot more. Ultimately, this report should also include a registration history which includes odometer readings. Ensure, though, that you compare these numbers with what you can see via the odometer and verify if the pattern looks and feels logical.

Another comparison which can determine if your odometer's reading seems dubious is through the vehicle's actual wear and tear. Certain questions can be asked alongside:

  • Is your car's wear and tear in line with its current condition, which includes the wear on the steering wheel?
  • Is the vehicle's gear level and pedals also in sync with the current reading?
  • Is the car's tires and brakes still original?

In this section, it is also paramount to verify the average amount of travel per year, from a local standpoint. This should give you an idea of a reasonable odometer car reading. The supposed average number would account for weekend-only consumers and long-distance drivers. By combining these numbers with the spoken words uttered by the seller during your crucial conversation with him, you can tell from their if what you're being told is legitimate.

What Are the Dangers of a Tampered Odometer?

Verifying whether your odometer is rolled back or not can be vital for a slew of reasons. Right on top is the assurance that your purchased vehicle is nothing but effective and reliable. To iterate, knowing how far a vehicle has already traveled in its lifetime can indicate just how good of a life it has left you with.

The value of a used car is also significantly influenced by how much road it has traversed. Purchasing a vehicle with a tampered odometer should only get you scratching your head in the long run.

What To Do If You Suspect Odometer Tampering?

The mileage on today's vehicles is tracked by two means – control module and physical odometer, with the former not controlling the number that is displayed on the dash. In most cases of odometer fraud, the number that can be viewed on the dash could be altered, while the control module's details still holding accurate mileage.

Thankfully, most dealerships now come with a tool that checks the control module accurately.

Does Low Mileage Mean Excellent Condition?

One cannot say with certainty that used cars with low mileage always equate great condition and roadworthiness. If there is anything, such trait isn't a surefire indication of these much-needed features.

True, most secondhand cars with low mileage do sure come with expected greatness in them, but that shouldn't quiet you down for good.

Recent pre-purchase inspections performed by some noted yet anonymous automotive outlets revealed that sports cars with low mileage on the odometer are interestingly armed with some wear in them. Accordingly, when the wear feature that comes with them is changed by the new owner, there is a likelihood that the automobile will react to the different wear patterns – but in a negative way.

During the inspections, these same cars have shown and experienced leaks from the engine or transmission. When one owns a manual transmission and is besieged with such issues, a clutch replacement is very much encouraged. This is true as any place which features a gasket may develop a leak once the car gets maneuvered.

And while the wear and tear on this car's components are less due to its accompanying low mileage, the new owner will, sooner or later, plan on replacing a series of gaskets toward the car off from the potential loss of fluids.

The same can be said when it comes to the age of tires. Though the tread of these tires could still look good on the outside, there could be some flat spots in them that could be caused by sitting in storage for an unknown amount of time. Worse, these tires could have already dried rot on the inside. To get ahead of such a situation, one must know the importance of knowing your tires' date codes which should then help you determine if the replacement is needed in the process.

Talking about idleness, some areas in your car which are normally lubricated could not receive the benefits of fluids when you allow your vehicle to sit in the garage on a daily basis. In essence, your car is a self-lubricating piece of machinery, so you're going to have to use it.

Other items that must be considered despite your car receiving a low mileage are brake fluid lines and gas tanks. Both of these can get contaminated when a car gets to sit on with gas on it for quite some time.


Essentially, a used car with low mileage should give you a ride of your life, literally and figuratively. But to truly experience an effective purchase of such an item, one must be thorough and knowledgeable enough to understand that no such thing exists if one relies on it without resisting curiosity.

Luckily, the ideas we have gathered for you above should already be sufficient for you to thrive in a world where nothing is what it seems.