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Old 16th September 2021, 12:41   #1
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Default How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

I'm looking at a bunch of options in the used market at the moment. Looking only at convertible / cabriolet options.

One really stands out - its a 2013 Mercedes with only 5000km on it. Cost is around 40L.

I'm getting a bunch of other options in Mercedes and BMW with higher kilometres like 30,000 - 50,000km. Range for this is 25-30L.

For some reason the first option has always been calling out to me because of such less km on it. It looks like a fantastic deal. I don't care too much about it being an old model, with older looks, etc.

So would you consider the first one a great deal and something exceptional? Or am I putting too much weightage on the km. Please advise!
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Old 16th September 2021, 15:39   #2
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Kilometers on the odo is like age on a man. The less the better. But the deal you are mentioning seems to be too good to be true. A 2013 Merc with only 5K on the odo needs to be verified through the dealer (for service history etc.). I think the European car experts on the forum will guide you better on the used deal offers. I will let them pour in their comments.
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Old 16th September 2021, 22:17   #3
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Given that you are looking at a pre-owned car, I would personally prefer a car which has been run closer to the service schedule running per year basis for that car category.

A 8-year old Mercedes with only 5000 km has spent almost its entire life in a garage/hardly any life on the road - meaning a very high natural entropy of the car’s energy coupled with natural atrophy of the car mechanicals. I would be wary buying such a car.
On the other hand, a relatively higher / adequately run car will most probably mean that the car has been serviced at regular intervals (which can be easily verified).
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Old 16th September 2021, 22:31   #4
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

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Originally Posted by JoshMachine View Post
Given that you are looking at a pre-owned car, I would personally prefer a car which has been run closer to the service schedule running per year basis for that car category.
This went above my head Would you care to explain in layman's terms? I know very little about cars and servicing..

Also regarding servicing, if both the cars have a proper service record (which I definitely would be checking) then you would prefer the lower mileage one, right?
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Old 16th September 2021, 22:40   #5
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

I am assuming that the other cars in your selection are equally old.
In that case I would recommend the one that has run 25-30,000 km. This has seen reasonable action over the years, must have been serviced yearly and won't suffer from the ailments that accrue from sitting at one spot for too long.
Spend a lakh plus on a thorough service, new tyres and a professional detailing.
The car will be as good as new and you will save a small matter of Rs 14 lakhs.
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Old 16th September 2021, 23:21   #6
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

A car's usage should be commensurate with its age. Neither too less nor excessive. If one finds a car that has run 75,000-100,000 kms on its odo that has been very carefully used, with all service records maintained, it is preferable to one with 25,000-50,000 kms done, but abused. Some cars are used by several hands at home or are chauffeur driven. Such cars are best avoided. Not saying all chauffeurs are callous, but checks are needed on such cars. The wheel rims, tyres, driver's seat and suspensions (while test driving) are places that show tell tale signs of abuse and are the first items to be affected. The cars that have done 25-30,000 which you have stated also need consideration upon merits.

My nephew who just bought a 2016 Chevrolet Volt in Santa Clara, CA says that most cars in the US in the used car market of this age have done 100,000 plus MILES. And at this stage these are selling like hot cakes due to the unprecedented short supply of new cars.

Quote:

As it is, he has zeroed in upon a 2016 Chevrolet Volt LT Hybrid (auto transmission), 4 cyl, 1.5 L, that shows 117,995 miles on its odo. The price quoted is $ 12,995. There are two "995's" here, one in the mileage figure and the other with the price. The car is at an used car dealership in Fremont, CA and is presently getting "fixed for its scuffs" as he calls it and will be home by this weekend.
This quote is from post # 19 this thread :-

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/what-...francisco.html (Suggestions for buying a used car in San Francisco)

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 16th September 2021 at 23:23.
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Old 16th September 2021, 23:21   #7
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by matizcrazy View Post
I am assuming that the other cars in your selection are equally old.
In that case I would recommend the one that has run 25-30,000 km. This has seen reasonable action over the years, must have been serviced yearly and won't suffer from the ailments that accrue from sitting at one spot for too long.
Spend a lakh plus on a thorough service, new tyres and a professional detailing.
The car will be as good as new and you will save a small matter of Rs 14 lakhs.
Wow I was really not expecting to hear this! Extremely helpful, I'm glad I posted here - I might very well end up saving 14L coz of this post as you said

The cars with 25-30,000km are actually a couple of years older, but I'm guessing that's not going to matter much.

The advice I got actually is that once a car crosses 50k km it's pretty much finished lolol.. But this was layman, non technical advice. I guess you pros here would not agree with that statement?
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Old 17th September 2021, 00:38   #8
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

An almost decade old car but only 5K kms on the odometer is a disaster in waiting. Try a moderately run car like the ones which you have mentioned which have run 25k-50k kms. A Mercedes or a BMW in that range should be good fit and you stand to save quite a lot of money as well. Agree with matizcrazy above, spend some decent amount on the detailing and you are good to go.

Any car which has not run properly over the years doesn’t mean that car is good. A car is meant to be used and not having a decent run over the years, tends to damage the mechanical parts big time. Since your choices are limited, go for the ones which are decently run. Engines with more kilometres are anyday better than the less sparingly used ones over the same period but with riders.

Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 17th September 2021 at 00:56.
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Old 17th September 2021, 07:26   #9
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Sounds too good to be true - odometer tampering is likely unless you know the owner personally. I'd buy a simple Maruti which has 5,000km in 7 years, but not a Mercedes. I'd rather buy a used car with 30-50k km for a lesser price. (With an inspection first obviously).

You are buying a complex German car in which a lot of electronics can go wrong and some repairs can be a bomb. (After spending a bomb on the car- adding salt to the wound).

Think of it like a stale potato vs processed french fries. Both are probably not healthy, but I'd indulge in french fries.
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Old 17th September 2021, 07:42   #10
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Considering you're looking at convertibles, 5000kms is not too farfetched since the owners of these vehicles generally tend to have other more practical cars to travel in for the most part. That said, mileage on the odometer while important, must be factored in with other points like service history etc.

To give you a couple of examples, if a car has done around 30k kms, one knows that the only major expense would be brake pads, tyres and windshield wipers. However if a car has done 80k kms, the price needs to be factored in; if the owner is pricing it slightly high due to preventive maintenance like suspension overhaul, belts and bushes being replaced, I would personally prefer such a vehicle over the average 30-50k kms done car since generally most owners are not car guys and by getting a vehicle with high miles on the odo but with preventive maintenance having been carried out on it, I get to enjoy a fresher feeling car (since they are engineered to last far more than we can imagine), for less due to the depreciation it has incurred.

Now coming to your particular 5k kms driven Benz, why not check the service history? If the car is owned by your typical Indian-mindset owner, he may not have bothered to change the oil or the brake pads or the battery thinking it has only done 5k kms whereas this could lead to deteriorated fuel quality contaminating the fuel system, oil quality, warped brake discs leading to uneven wear on suspension linkages, bulged battery etc. if the car has been left parked for too long and has not had periodic maintenance carried out on it, then please avoid it. If it has only run 5k kms while at the same time having been serviced regularly every year, then go for it

What I mean to say is kilometers are not everything. They must be analyzed keeping other factors in mind before a decision is made.

Last edited by IshaanIan : 17th September 2021 at 07:46.
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Old 17th September 2021, 08:29   #11
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Don't rule out buying a new car. You might find a good deal on a new car itself. Or you can buy a new Audi A3 cab instead of a used E class cab.

When it comes to buying a used car, knowing the genuine history of the car is the most important thing. This is extremely difficult as cheating and withholding information is the norm in our country.

If you want to be efficient about buying a used car, don't chase good deals instead look for good cars. The very first elimination criteria is to ask for complete service history at the authorised service centre (ASC). ASC will provide you this only if the current owner authorises them to share it with you. I won't go near any car unless I do this as a first step. You would be surprised to know how rare it is to get such a simple and obvious request as this being fulfilled.

If the car has periodic services done without any gaps (1yr or 10K km intervals) with or without usage, lockdown or no-lockdown, you have a candidate to shortlist. Go through the full service history on their computer to ensure there are no unusual service jobs (accidents, repeated attempts to repair, etc.)

Next elimination criteria is to check the latest insurance policy. It should have "No Claims Bonus" discount of 50% if the service history shows no insurance claims, if not the car has been fixed outside. If there are claims in the service history, it should be basic stuff like bumper/fender-bender repairs and not any major collision stuff. It boggles my mind if someone says there is no valid insurance.

Trust me, 99% of the cars in the used car market that are available to average public don't meet these two simple criteria. The good cars are usually sold to friends and family and rarely make it to the open market. They also don't sit for too long waiting for a buyer. The talk of Odo meter reading and visual inspection that we normally do is just throwing dice when it comes to luxury cars.

I can share another tip, haven't used it myself but it might be a good strategy :-) Shortlist a car from the open market and take it to the ASC for inspection and service estimate. Make friends with the service advisor and tell him you are looking for a clean and well-maintained car of the same model. He could be an excellent source for clean cars. These guys would know niche category cars very intimately.

Don't rule out a new car. Have patience if you are looking for used car. If you find the right car, buy it without delay by paying whatever reasonable premium is being asked for.

Last edited by androdev : 17th September 2021 at 08:34.
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Old 17th September 2021, 09:26   #12
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by evolution View Post
I'm looking at a bunch of options in the used market at the moment. Looking only at convertible / cabriolet options.

One really stands out - its a 2013 Mercedes with only 5000km on it. Cost is around 40L.

I'm getting a bunch of other options in Mercedes and BMW with higher kilometres like 30,000 - 50,000km. Range for this is 25-30L.

For some reason the first option has always been calling out to me because of such less km on it. It looks like a fantastic deal. I don't care too much about it being an old model, with older looks, etc.
What some of the members are trying to tell you is - a 8 year old 5000 km car is like a 45 year old Virgin.

The performance may not be guaranteed. It may look tempting, but there is something definitely wrong with it! The reason for such low mileage in such an expensive car, is never good!

Also, with new regulations coming in, the available age of the vehicle may be very less (7 odd years!)
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Old 17th September 2021, 10:28   #13
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Guys, keep in mind that he is talking about convertibles. It is absolutely normal for niche cars, offroaders, superbikes, classic cars & superbikes to have very low running. My own '97 Jeep is now more like a toy and probably does just 500 - 1000 km a year. There are many Harley-Davidson & Ferrari owners who have the same kind of low usage.

As long as the car is clean, you get a full PPI done and follow our used car checklist (ARTICLE: How to buy a *USED* Car in India), you should be okay.
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Old 17th September 2021, 13:51   #14
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Tremendous advice guys! I think I have a very good idea now about how to approach this.

Rather than simply look at the basic numbers, I need to focus on getting one with a trustable background. Will start doing the proper due diligence on each of the options.

I guess one last question - if regular servicing is done for the both the options - would you guys still say the 30k running one is better than 5k? If we look at the math the 5k one has barely done 600km a year.. Is that too less for this kind of car? Or will it actually help extend it's lifespan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by androdev View Post
Don't rule out buying a new car. You might find a good deal on a new car itself. Or you can buy a new Audi A3 cab instead of a used E class cab.
I don't know what's happened but none of the brands like Merc, Audi, BMW have any convertibles available! They are willing to take a deposit but are giving zero guarantee or idea about the timelines.. And I'm a situation where waiting a year or something won't make sense for me

Last edited by Eddy : 17th September 2021 at 15:38. Reason: Please avoid typing dotty posts...like...this.... Thanks
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Old 19th September 2021, 08:42   #15
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Default Re: How much do kilometers matter in a used car?

Even if the low-mileage and high mileage cars cost the same, i'd buy the high-mileage car. At least in this situation, where the odo reading isn't insanely high.

IMO, a vehicle that's seen the road is better than a garage queen. When I leave my car/bike for long, I often find stolen battery, stolen USB charger, mold in the cabin, battery low, wires chewed up, flat tyres, rat poop, ...
When I'm using the vehicle regularly, they stay in much better shape.

I only shortlist cars that have about 8-12k avg running per year. While it's normal for a cabrio to do less mileage, if you can find a daily-driven cabrio for less, that's a better deal in my opinion. I'd not even shortlist the 5k mileage car.
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