What's an old car? Years or Mileage


Asked by Nov 23, 2015 at 10:20 PM about the 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

Question type: General

So,  what defines an old or older car,   years or mileage?
Some people would rather have a "rare" cream puff that's 20 years old with
80.000 miles or a much newer 5 year old car with 80.000 miles.   
Which camp are you in?

11 Answers


A Pinto with low miles is just an old car. A old Ferrari with low miles is a treasure. Some cars pass the test of time, some don't! For those of us with limited budgets, driving a fine, low mile quality older car can be a dream come true. For daily drivers a newer car is the way to go for me though.

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Years. My '94 Fleetwood only has 77,000 original miles on it. But it's still 22 years old. To me, it's a treasure. To my insurance company it's just an old car. HTH. -Jim

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Some cars like my avatar were a treasure from new but there was a fairly brief period where you could acquire one cheap. That window of opportunity is the thing to look for!

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Yes, while I appreciate cars with years on them that still run fine, the problem of a super low mileage beauty is the cost per mile is much greater. Plus, the insurance companies look at your car's value on Kelly Blue Book and would be delighted to just pay you the depreciated value for it if it ever was in an accident, a real problem. There's a happy medium here somewhere. and what I'm discovering is, the older the car is the less significant the mileage factor is. If you look at the value of a car on NADA that's 15 or more years old, the value difference between a car with say 200,000 miles or 300,000 miles is not very much. On a much newer car between 5 and 10 years old, an extra 100,000 miles on the clock makes a really significant price drop.

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Full_of_Regrets- how long have you owned your classic car and what did you pay for it? I'm trying to understand what you mean by "inexpensive ".


20 years. Inexpensive is a relative thing though! The best time to buy a XKE would have been back in the 70's or early 80's.


Full_of_Regrets, yes, earlier, you said "cheap ". I understand nothing is really cheap and if you look at the price you paid, the care and feeding, plus the insurance, and factor in the number of miles actually driven, we could be talking in excess of $2 per mile! Or, am I wrong?


20 years/80k vs 5years/80k? Is there even a question here? Maybe you meant 5 yrs/180k? Regardless, you're omitting the salt belt's influence, which is the biggest driver toward a rational response. Second would be city vs hwy use, as an odometer doesn't count HOURS OF OPERATION. Note that many industrial and military systems, aircraft, etc., are maintained and "timed out" based upon the time clock, not the consumer automotive (dashboard) one. IOW change your friggin' oil quarterly or every 100 cold starts.


Actually, my own car is 74 months or just over 6 years old and has 73,000 miles. I wouldn't consider that high mileage. What's "IOW " mean? Yes, you brought up an interesting point about mileage vs. clock hours? They use clock hours on aircraft and boats, and probably on other things as well. Are you saying that "clock hours" might be more important of a gauge than mileage?


Of course time is more important than distance...except to tires or underrated wheel bearings...and maybe windshield and paint abrasion.


Thanks, sorry to ask again, but what does IOW mean? So, what you're also saying a 20 year old car with only 80,000 miles is actually "older", than a 6 year old car with 80,000 miles.

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