How does a higher mileage car differ from the lower mileage model?
If it's the right car - very little, other than in the balance on your bank account.
The right car will look, feel and drive virtually the same as the lower mileage vehicle, and you will have that lovely later plate or better equipped car that you thought you couldn't afford, sat on your drive.
The key to buying a bargain higher miles vehicle is the Service History - a complete service history is your best friend here.
The service history doesn't necessarily have to be all main agent - many higher mileage cars will be 2 owner vehicles - the first owner is likely to be a company, who run the car on a maintenance-included lease contract, and the servicing will almost always be carried out by the main agent. Then, when the car has come to the end of the lease, the vehicle is disposed of to a private buyer who will usually use a local independent garage for servicing. The main reason is cost, of course - main agents labour rates can range from £50-£100 per hour, whereas the independent garage will be half of this figure.
Secondly you need to factor in the number of owners - 1 or 2 owners on a 4-6 year old vehicle is fine. Modern cars do not fall over and die after 60,000 miles as many used to do in the bad old days - they are built to last and to do lots of miles, if maintained properly.
Something else you might want to factor in - the "low mileage, one lady owner" car is not always the ideal. That car has possibly spent most of it's life being driven down to Tesco's and back, or dropping the little ones off at school - up and down the gears, up and down the revs, on and off the brakes, jumping in and out etc. All this is wear and tear and is bad for the car!
The higher mileage vehicle is likely to have spent the majority of it's time leisurely cruising down the motorway at 70mph at 3000 revs, which is far easier on the car's drivetrain and components
So what's on the bottom line?
Quite a lot. A typical value comparison would be:
Ford Mondeo Diesel Hatchback - 2.0 TDCi Ghia - 2003 03 plate
Retail values (taken from CAP Black Book 01/05/2007)
30,000 miles £7350
60,000 miles £6250
90,000 miles £5350