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Three identical mondeos, three different mileages... but can you spot the difference between them?


Come on down- the price is right! Or is it? Low mileage cars fetch a premium over leggy examples, but that doesn't mean well priced high-milers are always bad news.

Properly maintained modern motors are capable of covering huge distances, so there's no need to steer clear of tha second-hand bargain simply because it has done the equivalent of three or four trips around the world. To prove our point, we lined up a trio of 2002-02 registered Ford Mondeos, each in LX trim. Our cars had 15,000, 48,000 and 81,000 miles respectively, and we asked members of the public- plus Green Flag vehicle inspector Richard Griffiths - to guess which deserved the highest price tag, according to the dealer's valuation. richard then gave his verdict on whether the high-mileage car would be a good buy – and  if the low-miler was worth its premium.


A USED car’s exterior creates a crucial first impression. Our low –mileage Ford was the only one for  sale on the forecourt of PJ Nicholl Ford in Tewkesbury, Glos – where we assembled our trio- and its paint work was the smartest. The other tow Mondeos were still in use everyday – and interestingly, it was the average-milers that looked least desirable. It had a nasty scrape down the passenger door, plus stone chips o n the bonnet and numerous other scars.
Richard wasn’t impressed.” Sorting the paint and panel damage would cost well over £1,000,” he said. “the car will be harder to sell “ however, this was reflected in its lower valuation, and anyone prepared to accept a scruffy but mechanically sound car could bad a bargain.

Interior trim

THIS is where the high-mileage Mondeo was rumbled – it was clear that the steering wheel, pedals and gear lever had all seen heavy use. Such items are not likely to be replaced – but carpets, seat cover and door trims will take huge mileage in their stride nowadays.
They can still look fresh after 100,000 miles, but Richard warned. “Be wary of cars sol by smokers, as removing the smell of nicotine can be impossible.”  This often affects high-mileage models as many have been company-owned, and drivers are more likely to smoke in a vehicle if the don’t actually own it. The low and medium-milers were similar inside, but how cars bear up to heavy use depends on the cabin materials – luxury models con usually withstand spaceship mileage with ease.


A CAR that’s covered lots of motorway miles is often as sound as a low-miler, as long as it’s been serviced correctly. “Most wear occurs when the engine is cold” explained Richard. “So lots of short journeys do the damage, and low mileage cars are often used mainly for those.” A spin the 81,000-mile
Ford showed that he meant.  there was no play in the steering, the suspension was still supple and it could easily pass for a model that had covered far fewer miles, it was as good to drive as the others. Areas buyers should look at in such cars include worn suspension bushes, which can lead to sloppy handling, and damage catalytic converters. You can only check the latter with the right kit – which is why it’s worth ensuring any high-mileage buy has been recently put through an MoT. If it hasn’t, we would advise walking away from the deal.


MODERNcars have more equipment than ever .but faulty air-conditioning, electric windows and multimedia system are pricey to fix. Air-con requires regular operation to be at Its best, so an infrequently used low-mileage car may need its system recharging. Richard said. “Everyone loves high specs, but check everything works. If it doesn’t, you could face a big bill to put it right.”

Come on down…

SPOTTING which car is which shouldn’t be a problem for a qualified mechanic, but what about the average man in the street? To find out, we grabbed three passers-by and asked them to guess which ford matched which price tag.
    Our first tow competitors guessed correctly. Contestant one, Joanne Richards, said. “A glance under the bonnet gives it away. The high-mileage car is filthy, while the others are far cleaner.”
The second contender, Mark Smith, looked inside. “The cabin makes it really easy to spot,” the told us. “the smoother steering wheel and worn door trim mean the high-mile Fords stands out. “ however, there were the only clues, and contestant number three, Nick graham failed to pick out high –mileage Mondeo- proving our point that not all such models look tired and worn. “those body work scars suggest this has had a hard life,” he said, pint at the 48,000-mile car. “ I cant believe the other one has done nearly twice the mileage and is in such good condition.”


THE stigma attached to high mileage car scares many people off, but as our experiment shows, in the right situation they can provide cost-effective motoring wotho0ut compromise. The 15,000-mile Mondeo is barely run-in and as new inside and out – but its £6,495 price is the highest of our trio. Meanwhile, both of the other Fords should do another 100,000 miles before they encounter any major trouble. Green flag’s Richard summed up the differences. “the middle car will last for al long time, but repairing the body blemishes would be expensive,” he explained. “its interior doesn’t look especially cared for, either”  
    Valued at £5,995, its cheaper than the mint Mondeo, but the 81,000-miler makes even more sense. Richard added: “ the high-mileage Ford has clearly been on motorways a lot, and the drivers has kept his distance from the car in front.
 “as a result there’s plenty of life in the engine, clutch and brakes, with few stone chops on the nose, importantly, it also has full Ford service history – which is vital in a car of this mileage”.
Priced £4,995, our leggy hatch didn’t fool everyone, but that figure is £1,500 lower than the most expensive offering-enough to make it an attractive proposition on any used car forecourt.
    With a bit of detective work you too could save a fortune by buying “mature”. It wont suit everyone but a properly maintained high-miler could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.



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Axis Driving School, 24 Starwharf, 40 St pancras way, London NW1 0QX.
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7.Further Information
If you would like any more information or you have any comments about our privacy policy, please either write to us at Data Protection Compliance Manager,  AXISDRIVING.COM, 24 Starwharf, 40 St pancras way, London NW1 0QX
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