A Car’s True Mileage: How to Check It

Mileage is an essential factor to consider when buying a used car, as it can provide information about the wear and tear of a vehicle.

Generally, the higher the mileage, the more likely a vehicle will have more wear and tear and any possible mechanical problems. However, there are also other factors to be aware of.

Keep reading this article to find out how to check the true mileage of a vehicle.

First, it is important to clarify the unit of measurement: is it kilometres or miles?



Miles or Kilometres?

Either, depending on the country – Miles (Mi) or Kilometres, which is represented by the abbreviation “km”, according to the International System of Units (SI). However, when talking about the distance the vehicle has covered in its life, the term used most often is mileage, whether the units are provided in km or mi.


What is Mileage?

Mileage, also sometimes known as “kilometre count”, is a measure that indicates the total distance travelled by a vehicle over its lifetime.

It is usually measured in kilometres, but in some regions, miles are used. It is used to assess the wear and general condition of a vehicle.

It is also a relevant indicator of vehicle maintenance, as many parts and components have an estimated service life in terms of distance travelled.

For example, oil, filters, belts, and tyre changes are usually scheduled according to vehicle mileage.

A car’s mileage marker, or odometer, is a device on a car’s dashboard responsible for displaying the kilometres travelled by the vehicle over time.


How does a Car ‘s Mileage Marker Work?

There are two main types of odometers:

  1. Mechanical odometers, common in vintage cars, work through gears and cables connected to vehicle wheels. Each wheel rotation is transmitted to the odometer via the gears. When the vehicle reaches 999,999 kilometres, the odometer goes back to zero.
  2. Digital odometers: nowadays, most modern vehicles have this type of odometer, which uses electronic circuits to count the impulses generated by speed sensors connected to the vehicle’s wheels. These impulses are then converted into distance travelled, displayed digitally on the car’s dashboard.

Reducing mileage is an illegal and unethical practice in which the kilometres travelled are altered.



What are the Reasons for Reducing Mileage?

Many people seek to resort to this technique to:

  • Increase a car’s resale value because the fewer kilometres travelled, the more valuable the vehicle;
  • Deceive buyers so that the vehicle can be sold at a higher price, in a seemingly better condition than it is in reality.

Once again, it is essential to remember that changing a car’s mileage is a crime. However, it is crucial to know the consequences of doing so.



What are the Signs that a Car ‘s Mileage has been Altered?

To ensure you get a good deal and avoid buying a vehicle on which the mileage has been tampered with, keep an eye out for obvious details that can help you determine the truth.


Vehicle Interior

On a first look, check the vehicle’s interior, including its upholstery, steering wheel, pedals, brakes, rubbers, and clutch, among others.

If they display too much noticeable wear and the mileage meter shows a value equivalent to an almost new vehicle, be suspicious.


Take it for a Test Drive

Before buying any vehicle, take it for a test drive. Pay close attention to how it drives and factors such as gearbox reactions.


Vehicle documents

Check all vehicle documents and pay special attention to the kilometres recorded on the supporting document issued by the MOT Test Centre.


Kilometres Travelled

To find out if a vehicle’s odometer has been tampered with, note that the average mileage per year of a vehicle is 19000 km.

If the vehicle is many years old and has only travelled 12000 km, for example, be wary.

Whether it’s a Portuguese or an imported vehicle, there are ways of knowing a vehicle’s true mileage.


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