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I can only afford to spend $2,000 for a car. I know that anything I buy in that price range is going to have lots of miles on it. How important is the mileage on a used car?

Mileage is probably the single most important factor in determining the value of a used car. The "normal" mileage for a used car is about 12,000 miles for each year of its life. In other words, a five-year-old vehicle should have about 60,000 miles on its odometer. (In locales where people do a lot of driving, such as Southern California, this mileage allotment is increased to 15,000 miles per year.)

So when looking for a used car, try to find a vehicle with the least amount of miles you can. If the mileage on the car is less than its "normal" allotment, then that vehicle may be a good buy.

Caution: "Odometer tampering" is a growing problem nationwide. If you find a used car with very low miles on its odometer for its age, you have reason to be suspicious. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to verify if the mileage on a vehicle's odometer is accurate or not.

Tip: To insure that you're not getting an out-and-out "lemon", have a mechanic inspect the vehicle before you buy it. He'll be able to tell you what problems the vehicle has now or is likely to have in the near future.


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