This is common question amongst used car buyers. That was certainly one of my main questions when I first started looking for a used car. In my experience, I tend to look for cars that are 3-4 years old and less than 30-35K miles and that has worked well for me but that of course depends on your needs. If you’re like my friend who is remodeling his home and is looking for a used car that can just help him haul materials, price is his main concern and not necessarily the mileage as long as the car can serve a temporary purpose of getting him from point A to B.
For people with normal driving needs, according to Tom and Ray Magliozzi (hosts of NPR’s CarTalk) in their book on “How to Buy a Great Used Car,” they advise buying a 2-3 year old car with 20-40K miles. They think that would be the best bet for “people who want to drive a car that looks good, runs well, has up-to-date safety equipment and is very reliable.”
Of course, a lot of the reliability of the car also depends on the manufacturer. We would suggest also consulting Consumer Reports list of Best and Worst used cars — .