How many miles can a car have and still be called new?

I am buying a new car from a dealer who located the car for me in a neighboring state. I was told they would ship the car on a flatbed, but instead they drove it. It now has 250 miles on the odometer.  Is this something I should be upset about? Is this too many miles for the car to be considered new?

Michael T., Melrose, Mass.

Technically, your car is still considered “new” because it has never been titled to an individual. Mileage has little to do with whether a dealer describes a car as “new.” It’s more of a legal term stating the car has never been owned by anyone except the dealership.

Dealerships have demonstration vehicles for test drives and such that can be driven up to 10,000 miles and still be considered “new” because they were never registered to an individual, although sometimes those cars are available cheaper than if they were fresh off the assembly line.

We think you have the right to be upset in that the dealership told you one thing and did another (guaranteed it’s not the first time that’s happened), and you may be able to negotiate an extended warranty or even maintenance services. If you’re really peeved, let the dealer know, but 250 miles isn’t that many. In the end, though, you’re the one who will have to live with the car for the next few years, so if you make your feelings and expectations known and still don’t get satisfactory results, buy a different car.

Learn more

Answered by Joe Bruzek on June 5, 2007 in I'm Just Wondering | Permalink

Search Results Search Results for


See if your question has already been asked and answered

Thank You!

Your question has been successfully submitted to It will now be reviewed by our editors and we'll answer it soon if we think it's a useful question. You will be notified via e-mail when the answer is posted. tackles your questions about new cars and the car-buying process. Unfortunately we can't answer questions regarding:

  • Used cars.
  • Most aftermarket products.
  • Mechanical issues. You can visit our friends at Car Talk to discuss your mechanical problems.
Thanks for your interest.


Have our experts answer any of your questions about new cars.

Email us at

Maintenance Advice
Get answers from the
Car Talk Community