This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

3 Milestones to Look Out For in Used Car Values

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Warm sun, flowers blooming, longer days -- spring has definitely arrived. What better way to celebrate than to cruise the road in a new car -- or a new used car? No one likes wandering around used car lots in ice and snow, and in another month those lots will be steaming. Spring is definitely the time to car shop.

And if you're in the market for a used car, the deals are probably just as good in spring as anytime else. There's no end-of-model-year game to play, as there is when new cars are arriving late in the summer.

Still, there are some timing issues to keep in mind. They involve not the calendar but the vehicle's mileage -- psychological thresholds that can have a significant influence on a vehicle's price.

"If you're planning to sell or trade in your car soon, keep your eye on the odometer and sell before hitting these significant mileage points," says, the car-data and advice firm. "If you're buying a used car, you should also know about these milestones and understand that extensive maintenance may soon be due -- or should have been done already."

Assuming the maintenance has been done, or won't be too costly, the buyer may get a better deal after the threshold has been passed.

The first of these points typically comes between 30,000 and 40,000 miles -- often at 36,000 miles, the end of many manufacturer warranties. Often, the carmaker recommends a major servicing at this stage, something more costly than the oil changes and tire rotations that went before. Brake pads and tires need replacing at this point, for instance.

"With this in mind, anyone getting ready to sell a car would want to put it up for sale a few thousand miles before the 36,000-mile mark or before the major service visit," Edmunds advises. "Anyone shopping for used cars in this range should check that the required maintenance has been done. A savvy buyer could use the fact that the service hasn't been done yet as a bargaining chip to make a lower opening offer."

The second threshold typically comes between 60,000 and 70,000 miles, when another major servicing is required. That often includes something expensive, such as a new timing belt, on top of another set of brake pads, and perhaps tires, filters and other expenses such as those in the first big servicing.

Then comes the 100,000-mile mark. In bygone days, many vehicles were shot at this point. Today's vehicles are so much better that 100k is mere middle age, with tens of thousands of miles left -- in some cases another 100,000. But the prejudice against vehicles with six-digit mileage remains in many buyers' heads, undercutting prices.

Edmunds notes that many buyers who shop online restrict their searches to vehicles with less than 100,000 miles. That means the seller is better off selling just short of that point to reach the greatest number of shoppers. For buyers it means fewer people will be interested in those "older" cars, and lower demand produces lower prices.

A savvy buyer who can have a trusted mechanic check out the older vehicle might get a good deal, though much will depend on how well the previous owners have treated it. Be sure to check maintenance records.

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
AAPL $118.03 -0.71%
FB $105.41 -0.31%
GOOG $748.15 -0.02%
TSLA $229.64 5.22%
YHOO $33.16 0.61%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,813.39 +1.20 0.01%
S&P 500 2,088.87 -0.27 -0.01%
NASDAQ 5,116.1430 +13.3350 0.26%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs