Mileage affects everything from how much you pay for a car to the cost of car insurance premium.
Here's how it all works.
Most insurers ask for an estimated annual mileage when you buy car cover.
They use a system known as 'insurance mileage brackets' to figure out your estimate.
Each bracket contains different mileage bands. For example, '5000 to 6000 miles'.
Insurers use these brackets to work out how frequently you drive, and from that they estimate your risk of getting into an accident.
Generally speaking, car policies are more expensive if your mileage is high.
On the other hand, drivers with a lower mileage usually get cheaper car insurance.
Mileage is one of many factors that can affect your car insurance price though.
Insurers will also look things like your:
Your mileage is displayed on a counter (known as an odometer 🤓), which you can find on the dashboard.
Today, most odometers are digital but some older cars still use analogue clocks.
It can be tricky to estimate your mileage when buying insurance for your first car.
Start by working out how many miles you think you'll drive in an average week. This includes driving to work, running errands and socialising. Then multiply that number by 52.
It's also worth adding extra miles if you plan on driving for long trips or holidays too, or in case of any other unexpected longer or unplanned trips.
To make things easy, we've created a handy car insurance mileage calculator.
Drivers had an annual mileage of 7,400 miles in 2019, the last full non-Covid year we have data for.
Overall cars have been travelling less since 2002 when the average annual mileage was 9,200 miles.
Find out how your mileage compares to the national average using the table below.
Source: National Travel Survey, Department for Transport, August 2020
Sometimes life happens and your estimated mileage might not match how much you actually drive.
Your mileage may increase for variety of reasons, such as:
1) Changing your car use
If you start commuting to work, your mileage is likely to increase.
For example, driving to your office, or even driving to the train station and leaving your car parked outside.
If you start using your car for work, rather than just commuting, you'll need to get a business policy. 👔
2) Adding a named driver
Adding a named driver to your policy could cause your mileage to go up.
This is because any miles driven in your car might count towards your total (always double check with your insurer).
3) Lending your car to someone
Similarly, letting someone else borrow your car could add miles to your vehicle's annual total.
Mileage is usually alculated per vehicle rather than per person.
If the amount you drive changes, you'll need to tell your insurer as soon as possible.
Your car insurance may get more expensive if your mileage is higher than expected.
This is because your chance of getting into an accident increases the more you drive.
Some insurers are offering refunds if your mileage is less than you originally thought.
Get in touch with your insurer to see if you could get some money back.
Total mileage doesn't matter when you're buying insurance. The most important thing is how much you expect to drive.
Insurers look at your annual mileage rather than the car's overall total.
This means that buying an older car, with more miles on clock, won't necessarily be more expensive to insure, if you don't plan on driving much.
As for buying a used car, there's no such thing as a "good mileage". A high mileage doesn't necessarily mean the car is in worse condition.
For example, a high mileage could suggest lots of long distance driving on the motorway, which causes a lot less wear and tear than driving around a city in traffic.
It's important to check a car's history to get a better picture of its condition overall.
Car clocking is when someone changes a vehicle's odometer, reading to reduce the mileage.
Sometimes dishonest sellers clock high-mileage cars to make them seem more valuable to buyers.
It's illegal to sell a clocked car without telling the buyer. So if you're buying a new car, keep an eye out for it.
You can report sellers to your local Trading Standards office if you think someone's trying to sell you a clocked car.
Limited mileage car insurance is designed for people who don't drive often.
Some insurers set an initial mileage limit for your policy, and you'll usually get a discount if you stick to your allowance.
Other insurers offer pay as you go insurance. This where you pay a flat fee each month and are only charged for the miles you drive.
For both policies, the insurer tracks how far you drive using a black box - or a "telematics device", to give it the proper name - fitted to your car.