How high-mileage vehicles turn into sales for car dealers


Two things are changing the used-car market. First, today’s vehicles last much longer than 100,000 miles; used-car customers know it and are getting more comfortable buying well-maintained, high-mileage vehicles.

Second, the price of used vehicles with six-figure mileage makes them affordable to buyers priced out of the market for most 2- and 3-year-old used cars. Cox Automotive data shows used-vehicle prices were 37 percent higher in January 2022 than January 2021.

Says Boyd: “Today’s cars are so much better engineered and put together. It comes down to the pedigree. If they are taken care of and maintained, that 200,000-mile car is now in that old 100,000-mile price range.”

To hear Eric Benson, another used-car director at LaFontaine, tell it, there is a customer for every car — even one such as the Acadia.

Data showed the Acadia’s ad on the store’s website had a 53 percent click-through rate, meaning potential buyers were giving the crossover serious virtual kicks in its tires.

“With cars like that, we try to diversify and meet the needs of all customers,” Benson says. “It’s a safe car or else it wouldn’t be up for retail.”

The store might invest as much as $3,000 reconditioning a high-mileage vehicle, says Paul Householder, LaFontaine’s fixed ops director. The service department makes the call on whether a high-mileage vehicle makes it to the front line or is sent to auction. Occasionally, the store will sell a used vehicle that needs repairs the store won’t do. But those vehicles are advertised as such, and the store shares all the details of its inspection with potential customers.

“For us, our reputation is everything,” Householder says. “Before any vehicle leaves our facility, it has to be pristine. It has to be safe. We look at it as if our mother or grandmother could be driving that car.”


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Jaime E. Love

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