Classic Car Odometer
Source: Getty

Shopping for a Vehicle Online and the Mileage Is "NaN”? Get Ready to Negotiate

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Dec. 6 2021, Published 7:13 p.m. ET

If you're buying a used product from someone, it's probably in your best interest to always assume the worst and thoroughly check everything out before ultimately deciding on the purchase. Getting an e-bike for some eco-friendly commuting that gives you a bit of a workout? Then make sure you can comfortably climb hills in it (I learned that the hard way). Trying to buy a car? Then you've probably come across a few listings that label the miles as "NaN." So what does that mean?

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What does "NaN" miles mean?

It usually means "not a number" or that there's no value associated to the number of miles. So let's say you're looking to purchase cars online; sometimes, folks will put "NA" or "NaN" in the description in the hopes of getting interested folks hitting them up about the car so they can effectively negotiate a sales price, instead of them taking it to the dealer and getting hosed.

But there's another reason why NaN shows up in the car's mileage description.

Car odometer
Source: Getty Images
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Why do some Facebook marketplace listings for cars feature "NaN" miles?

So maybe some folks intentionally put "NaN" in the hopes of not broadcasting just how much pavement they've put under their vehicle, but that's not always the case. Sometimes Facebook doesn't register the mileage that folks put into their listing properly and writes "NaN" (not a number). So they either have to edit the listing or adjust how they entered the values.

Typically speaking, if you're buying a car, motorcycle, boat, bike, or any mode of transportation, the fewer miles it's traveled the better. While the chip shortage has made any type of negotiations for cars a traditionally one-sided affair, you still want to ensure you're making the most informed purchases possible.

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Even if you don't have a lot of technical know-how, you can google common problems with the particular model that you're buying and the costs associated with maintaining said vehicle. You can also run vehicle accident reports to ensure there wasn't any structural damage to the car's frame. If that happens, there are a number of problems that can potentially occur with other parts on the vehicle.

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High mileage doesn't always mean that a car's been beaten up to death either. If you have a conscientious owner who's kept the thing in a garage and can provide meticulous maintenance records, it might be better to purchase a car from them that's got 70,000 miles as opposed to someone whose knowledge of cars extends to "gas go vroom, brake go stop" and their eyes go blank if you ask them if they've used the e-brake whenever they park.

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There are some models of cars and engine types that require more maintenance. For example, turbo-charged combustion engines tend to have more carbon build-up in them over time. Sure, that used Audi may look like a great deal, until you realize there's not a single mechanic in your area that you trust to perform a proper walnut blast to ensure you're not misfiring and redlining your transmission, leaving you with a $6,500 fix. No bueno.

If you're trying to buy a used car, Car and Driver put together a list of vehicles that more than likely won't leave you pouring a ton of money into maintaining.

Speaking of 2017 models, they recommend the Buick Regal. Buicks aren't exactly the most desirable brand, but they share the same platform as other GM vehicles, and since it's a domestic vehicle with great options, it's definitely an attractive purchase.

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If you want something a little more luxurious, then you can't go wrong with Hyundai's luxury Genesis brand; the G60 or G80 have the dependability that the Korean manufacturer's known for, with tons of lush and plus options that are (nearly) on par with some of the more noteworthy German counterparts ... with way less used-car maintenance worries and costs.

You can also never go wrong with a Toyota Corolla from pretty much any year, or a Camry, or an Avalon, or a Rav4, but they're pricier used cards for a reason: they're ridiculously dependable.

The Honda Fit, and Kia Soul are also great options too. But generally speaking, try getting a car that hasn't been in an accident, from a year without significant drivetrain recalls, with as low a mileage as possible that's had its oil changed on time!

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