Can a Dealer Sell a Car as 'New' If It Has Over 100 Miles On It?

Illustration for article titled Can a Dealer Sell a Car as 'New' If It Has Over 100 Miles On It?

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. Sometimes folks get into a tough spot or don’t know what to do, so I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out.


Let’s see what we have on deck for this week:

I’m shopping for a new Honda Accord Sport 2.0T and I got an offer that was way less than all the other stores. No one was willing to match it and they all claimed this dealer was playing games. It turns out this car has 107 miles on it, but I feel like I got a good deal. Is that too many miles for a brand new car to have? Did I really buy a used car?

As you have found out the concept of a “new car” isn’t the same for every vehicle. Some folks insist on having something with as few miles as possible. Though almost every new car has a handful of miles on them from transportation and dealer prep. However, some cars on the lot tend to rack up more miles than others. In the case of this Accord it could be that the dealer didn’t have too many Sports on the lot with the 2.0T motor, so everyone that came by looking for a test drive of that model drove the same car. Those miles added up.

So this car isn’t quite as “new” as an Accord that just rolled off the truck. Despite the fact that it was somewhat used during those 100 miles, it was never sold or titled so it is still technically a “new” car. However, it seems that the dealer compensated for those miles by giving it a more aggressive discount. The question of too many miles really depends on the customer and the price. If you are happy with the extra money off for the mileage, it’s fine.

Next -

I have subpar credit and an underwater auto loan and that has a bad CVT transmission. I am currently stuck driving a 2003 Toyota echo coupe with a 7 month old baby that must be in a rear facing seat. Let’s just say it’s not easy getting the baby in and out of the vehicle. I think we owe close to $10,000 on the car and I was offered $2500 at a used car dealership in Northeast Arkansas where I live. Can you offer any advice on how I can get out of this situation? When I say we owe $10,000 it’s actually my wife’s car that she purchased prior to meeting me but she is currently unemployed.


This message is one of the most common themes I get in the inbox. Unfortunately, we have a perfect storm of a bad situation with no easy solution. You have a car that doesn’t work ideally for you, an underwater loan and a low credit score. You certainly do not want to roll all that negative equity over again and perpetuate the cycle, and even if you tried I don’t think a bank will approve that loan. Now if by some miracle you find a dealer that can “work with you on that trade” as they may say, that is not a store you want to do business with. It’s a bummer, but this tough problem doesn’t come with an easy fix. You either have to bring a lot of money to the table to wash out the negative equity or keep driving your car until it’s paid down.

And finally -

I’m in the market for a 14/15 Lexus IS 250/350 . I have a large spreadsheet of about 20 cars in my area( of varying models/trims. There is one dealer that has the six cheapest cars on my spreadsheet. I looked up the dealer on Yelp and they are notorious for selling lemon/buyback cars. I have a hard time thinking a Lexus IS would fall under that. From what I’ve been reading, Carfax and Autocheck are not reliable sources for identifying these types of cars. Is there a reliable way to identify lemon law/manufacturer buybacks?


You are correct that the vehicle history reports are not always the most accurate when it comes to Lemon Law or corporate buy back cars, these do pop up in the history report, but those reports are only as good as the data they are pulling from. There are other reports you can access for a reasonable cost like, however, if this dealer has cars that are suspiciously cheaper than the rest of the field and they have gotten bad reviews, you are probably better off just buying elsewhere.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at!

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (



I think we owe close to $10,000 on the car

How in heaven’s name do you owe 10 grand on a 15-year-old subcompact?