Can just one additional mile make your car’s value plunge?
In the same way that $1.99 is more appealing than $2, cars drop disproportionately in value as the odometer approaches round numbers like 100,000 miles.
This also means that every time your car’s odometer gains a digit in the hundreds spot, it loses twenty dollars in resale value. Devin Pope showed that a car with 50,799 miles is worth twenty dollars more than a car with 50,800 miles. That’s an expensive mile. But a car with 50,899 miles is still worth as much as it was at 50,800. In respect to miles, your car doesn’t lose value smoothly— it ratchets downward with the hundreds digit.
The effect is a little stronger when you tick a thousand miles. That’ll cost you $ 250. But, “while all the 10,000-mile marks were huge,” says Pope, “it seemed like people caught on to the 100,000-mile game.” Even with the human mind’s inability to see $ 3.99 milk as $ 4.00, with used cars, it’s too obvious that a seller is trying to unload a car just before it charts 100,000 miles, so the price starts dropping at about 99,900.
So if you’re buying a car, your best deals will be just after it’s hit a round number— following 50,000 or 100,000 is ideal. And if you’re selling, make sure you do it before the car reaches those milestones that make it seem old. If that looming milestone is the big 100,000, sell it before 99,900.
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