Sunday 22 September 2019

Motoring advice: How do I know when low mileage is not legitimate?

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car. Aidan visits dealers all over the country to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who supply a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. Eddie is author of former bestselling book 'Clever Car Buying'


A friend of mine is helping me buy a second-hand Ford Focus from a person we've known for a good while. The 13-reg car has only 37,000km on the clock. It is an import. Do you think that is very small mileage for a four-year-old car? What would you advise as I don't want to lose it if it is genuine? I don't know anything about cars. But me and my friend are a little suspicious. Please help.

Aidan: This is one of those cases when I must answer your questions with those of my own. When was the car imported? Are you sure you have quoted the mileage in the correct denomination; kilometres not miles?

Yes, 37,000km over four years is low, but that does not inherently mean it is not legitimate. Our market used to be predominantly petrol-oriented until 2008. After that, many petrol buyers switched to diesel cars despite there being no change to their driving. So, low mileage diesels are more common now than before. How well do you know the person selling it? Are they trustworthy? Is there a verifiable service record from the UK and Ireland with the car? Before you do anything, pay for a vehicle history check online and download all the non-sensitive data pertaining to the car. Ensure that you choose the option which provides the UK and Irish history data combined. It should provide you with an insight into the car and whether the seller's story stacks up.

Eddie: As ever, Aidan has excellent advice but let me ask you this: Why do you have a doubt? There is something niggling you. Reading between the lines I reckon you have your suspicions for a reason. So I'd walk away from it, history check or not. There are plenty of other cars out there. Please go to a reputable dealer near you, tell him what you want, insist on a warranty and drive away with peace of mind. You'll never have it with the other.

Just to say

We love getting your enquiries and try to reply to as many as possible here or via email. The ones dealt with here often represent a cross section of individual questions. You can help us help you with our free, independent, advice by including the following in your queries:

  • Budget (including trade-in)
  • Annual mileage (in kms)
  • Size of car required (number of seats)
  • Present car (make, model, year and mileage) if relevant.

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