How to Tell a Used Car’s True Age

If you’re going to invest in getting a used car, you will want to make sure it’s going to last you for a while. How can you tell that a car is worth the money or not? One way you can help to know if the value of a car is worth it is by comparing the car to others of a similar age. But, you need to know the real age of the car before you can do that.

Judging a Car’s Age

It’s easy to say that a car’s age is simply the current year minus the car’s manufacturing year. This will give you a rough idea about how old the car is, technically, but it isn’t going to tell you everything you need to know about the car’s true age. To know the true age of a car, you need to look at the year it was made as well as the mileage on the car.

Year and Model

For most manufacturers, it’s common practice to release a new model every year. But, the year of the car doesn’t necessarily tell you when it was made. Usually, cars of a stated year model are at least 1 year older than their stated model year. For example, an ad for a used Audi A4 in Phoenix may be listed as a 2014 model, but it was probably built and manufactured in 2013. Keep this in mind when you’re going to buy a used vehicle.


The number of miles listed on the odometer is the second thing that helps you determine the car’s true age. Mileage is part of a delicate balance of wear and tear versus replacement and maintenance. There are two warning signs for used cars:

  1. The car has significantly lower mileage than cars of a similar make and model.
  2. The car has very high mileage for its age.

Having significantly fewer miles on a car may seem like a great thing, but it’s not always the blessing it seems to be. Sometimes if something is too good to be true, it’s not true at all. Older cars may be victims of odometer rollbacks that falsified the true mileage. Or, the car may not have been used frequently, meaning it may not have had the maintenance, repairs, replacements, and check-ups a car would normally have had along the way. An average car has about 10,000 – 15,000 miles per year.

Too many miles on the odometer means that car has been well used. There might be some big repairs in the future. If you check the car’s history and find that some of those repairs have been made already, you might be safe. Otherwise, it could turn into a bad investment shortly.