While it’s easy to assume that a brand-new car from the dealership will have zero miles, this is rarely the case. So how many miles should a new car have? Though every new car will have a few miles on the odometer, there is a threshold for what’s acceptable, at which point it’s appropriate to ask for a discounted price or a replacement vehicle. For this reason, every smart car buyer should check the odometer before closing the deal.
You can expect every new car to have at least 2 miles on it, simply as a result of short-distance driving around the factory floor while being finished and moved to transport. More short-distance driving will occur during maintenance and examination and while the car is being parked at the dealership. In total, a new car usually has at least 10 or more miles on the odometer.
What Is Delivery Mileage?
According to Perry’s News, delivery mileage is the limited number of miles on a new, unregistered car as a result of transportation to the dealership, between dealerships, or from the dealership to the buyer. Delivery mileage can be beneficial to buyers, as it allows them to avoid a transporter fee. It also means the buyer can typically drive away with the car that day, often with a significant discount. A new car with delivery mileage can also be sold with the manufacturer’s warranty, with the buyer listed as the first registered owner.
How Many Miles Should a New Car Have?
Estimating an acceptable delivery mileage isn’t an exact science, as the amount can vary by manufacturer and dealer. The general rule, though, is that anything under 200 miles is acceptable for a new car. That allows enough capacity for transport from the shipping port or between dealerships if the car has to be sent to a new showroom. It’s also unlikely that the car would suffer any technical issues with fewer than 200 miles.
That said, most new cars have far fewer than 200 miles. In fact, most new cars have between 10 and 50 miles on them right off the lot. A buyer, however, should keep a number of factors in mind when evaluating what’s an acceptable number of miles, including the journey from storage compounds, loading and unloading from ferries, and inspections.
Ultimately, how many miles is too many for a new car depends on your preferences and the car’s price. It’s fair for you to expect that your new car will come with no more than 10 miles on it, and if your car arrives with 190 miles on the odometer, you have the right to refuse delivery.
No new car will have zero miles, though. Even those that have barely been driven will have at least five or six, simply from being transported. However, if the odometer shows over 100 miles, you might want to reconsider the purchase, as it’s either been used frequently for test drives or it’s been driven on the highway during the transfer from one dealership to another.
Test Drives and Breaking in a New Car
While you certainly don’t want your new car to have more than 100 miles on it, there is a benefit to buying a car that’s been test-driven: It’s been broken in.
One or two test drives of a car at the dealership can start the break-in process before you have acquired the vehicle. The process of driving a brand-new car seals the piston rings in the cylinders and ensures they can withstand the pressure of regular operation. Buying a vehicle that’s been test-driven can make the break-in process faster and easier.
That said, you have no control over how it’s driven during that time, and the first few hundred miles are crucial to ensure the engine is properly broken in. Many manufacturers even say a new vehicle should be kept below 50 mph for the first 1000 miles.
New Car vs. Other Kinds of Cars
Before you rush out and buy a brand-new car, consider how new cars with delivery mileage compare to other types of cars to determine the best option for you. Your car-buying choices include:
- New cars.
- Demo cars.
- Used cars.
A new car is any car that’s never had a title issued to anyone before the buyer drives it off the lot. The odometer should read close to zero. Because cars depreciate the most between the first and second owners, the first buyer has the advantage of a mint-condition car.
According to Autoblog, a demonstrator car, or demo car, is a vehicle the dealership staff, such as salespeople, managers, and executives, have driven. These cars have never been registered, which means, legally, they’re considered new, regardless of the mileage.
Dealerships often encourage buyers to purchase demo cars that have been driven by managers or executives, asserting that they are immaculately maintained and that the buyer will get a better deal on a demo than on a new car. That’s not always the case. Demo cars usually have considerable mileage, especially considering they’re legally “new,” and can have wear and tear that might not be immediately apparent.
A used car has had one or more previous owners who have driven the car for personal use. Purchasing a used car can save you a lot of money. However, keep in mind that someone else was in charge of its maintenance and servicing. It’s important to purchase a used car from a dealership you trust and have the car’s history comprehensively reviewed before buying.
Ultimately, the choice between a new or used car is yours alone. Evaluate your budget, and go to a reputable and trusted dealership. However, if you’re buying new, don’t hesitate to ask for a different car if you notice that the odometer is near or over 100. You’ll likely be driving the car for years to come, and those first few hundred miles can have a big impact on the life of the engine.