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Pre-Owned Vehicles and the Difference Between Highway and City Miles

Posted at Sat, Sep 26, 2020 12:30 PM

When you’re shopping for a pre-owned vehicle, you need to know a lot more than how it looks. Even a vehicle that has been meticulously maintained so that its body and interior are blemish-free could have been driven hard, and now it’s mechanical parts could be suffering. If you want to buy a vehicle that will last you a long time, you need to know as much as you can about how the car was cared for under the hood, as well as how it was driven.

Looking at mileage can give you a clue. Vehicles with higher mileage typically have shorter life spans. However, you need to know more than the total miles – you also need to know the quality of the miles. Were those miles driven primarily on the highway or primarily in everyday, city driving such as to and from work?

Why Highway vs. City Driving Matters

You may think that it’s worse for a vehicle if it has been driven a lot of miles on the highway. After all, the vehicle would be traveling at high speeds for long distances. However, the reality is that highway miles are far better for a vehicle than city miles.

On the highway, a vehicle can be driven at a consistent speed. It doesn’t have to stop and start again multiple times, like in city driving. Maintaining a consistent speed is much easier on the engine, and it will result in less wear and tear. (That is, so long as you aren’t driving at top speeds and are just sticking to the speed limit.) City driving puts a lot of wear on the engine, the transmission (since you are constantly changing gears), and the brakes.

Evaluating Pre-Owned Vehicles

You aren’t going to have the previous owner there to tell you how many miles they drove on the highway and how many they drove on the city when you are shopping for pre-owned vehicles. Even if you do, you can’t always trust that the person will have accurate records (do you log your own highway and city miles?) or that they are going to be honest.

What you can do is look at the overall mileage compared to the age. Relatively newer cars that have high mileage are likely to have been driven a lot on the highway – those long distances add up fast. You also need to look at the body of the vehicle. If it has a lot of small scratches and dings, chances are good those came from city driving, and you can bet that a lot of the miles on the vehicle are city miles.

You should also look at the vehicle’s history to learn about its maintenance. The previous owner may have outfitted it with many new parts that would mitigate the wear and tear it took on from a lot of city driving.

At Tim’s Truck Capital, we thoroughly evaluate every vehicle we put on our lot so that we are only offering the best. Our associates can help you understand the vehicle’s history, including its maintenance history, so that you can find a vehicle that will give you years of reliable performance. Visit us today to find a quality pre-owned vehicle at a great price!

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