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Used Cars/Does towing add "miles"?


I am a typical broke college student trying to find a cheap but decent car. The last car I looked at had deep scratches in the hood, and I was told it was from being towed around. The mileage was only 117,000, but I was wondering if towing adds extra wear and tear to the engine, transmission, and etc. I've been told that towing won't add miles to the odometer, but that if a car was towed around a lot it really has more mileage than the odometer says. I don't want something with a whole lot of miles because I am no mechanic and can't afford to be fixing a lot of things. I just need something that will last me a couple of years, so should I stay away from cars that have been towed?

Hi Leah and thanks for the question I am sorry it took me so long to get back to you but I did not see that you had written in with your question... Nevertheless here you go:

One of the occupational hazards of being a tow vehicle is that you tend to pick up a lot of rock chips in the paint on the hood and on the windshield. You are correct that towing doesn't add miles to the odometer and pulling the car along in neutral doesn't add anywhere compared to the engine and transmission so while a tow vehicle would technically have more miles on the tires from rolling down the road than the odometer show the car itself (drivetrain... Engine and tranny) would have whatever the odometer display says. The number of miles of vehicle has on it (according to the odometer) is one of the prime determinants in establishing vehicles value because it measures the number of miles the engine and transmission have on them as well. Let's face it nobody really cares how far the car has rolled on its tires without the engine running or the transmission engaged related odometers to determine how much wear and tear are on the engine and transmission... A.k.a. the drivetrain. And while towing may affect some of the cosmetic features of the vehicle after being towed around for 100,000 miles does not affect important parts. Today's towing technology for vehicles behind a motorhome for instance is very good and other than a couple of holes in the front of the vehicle where the tow bars were attached a car does not suffer by being towed... Except for the tires and possibly breaks depending on how it's connected.

I wouldn't stay away from the car simply because it was a tow car and in fact may even look favorably upon it because the people who tend to tow their vehicles are people with nice recreational vehicles tend to be more affluent and are usually older and take care of their property properly... They change the oil and do all of the maintenances on schedule.

Once again I'm sorry this was so late if I would've seen you I would've answered immediately... Feel free to ask as many follow-up questions as you want!!

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Roger Alvey


I can answer any question about the car buying process. I am a recognized industry expert on all issues regarding auto finance, including sub prime and buy here pay here financing, I can answer questions about car lock out systems, GPS monitoring by your bank, and about auto recovery methods and defenses. I am a 20 yr car industry expert and can tell you what to look for in a used car, how to negotiate the deal, help with how to market your own car, and how to negotiate with the internet department of any car store. I can tell you every single way the dealer is set up to beat you and how to avoid those traps, I can discuss all aftermarket and extended service contract products you will be offered in the finance process, I have lectured extensively on "The Best Way to Buy a Car" to civic groups and university students. I am a credit expert and can tell you what the dealer and banks are looking for and the rate you can expect to pay. CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE AT


20 years industry experience in top management of dealerships and dealer groups. Recognized industry expert since 2004 in the Top 10 industry experts for The Gerson Lehrman Groups Auto Industry Council. I also do consulting work for Experts360, Atheneum Partners, Expert Connect and Coleman Research. I have been a franchise owner and understand all facets of the auto industry from the time the car leaves the factory until it leaves the lot with it's new owner. I have written training materials for both the prime and the subprime sales and finance process.

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