Should your brand new car have zero mileage when delivered?

How do you classify a brand new car? I’m sure most will say that it has to come off the showroom floor and has to be the latest year and model. I’m sure some of you will also say that a brand new car has never been driven and the interior has that special “new car” smell with matching plastic covers and infotainment protector screens. Well, I hate to break it to you, but everything above may hold true for a brand new car, except for the odometer.

I’m sure many new car buyers actually forget to glance at the odometer once they take delivery of their vehicle, and even fewer actually complain or raise concerns about any mileage. In this article, we’ll be talking about why your car doesn’t actually have zero kilometers on the odometer, and why it actually might be a good thing.

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In essence, a new vehicle, at least according to a dealership, is a vehicle that's not been traded, or for which the warranty has not been registered. They also say that it isn’t unusual to have even up to a few hundred kilometers on the odometer by the time it reaches your garage. Naturally, once a car’s assembly has been completed, meaning all the components and necessary pieces are put together, each time the wheel moves forward, the odometer has already started rolling.

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The best way is to picture the process of the car rolling off the assembly line. These steps may vary according to manufacturers, but the idea is basically the same. Once the car is started, it is driven to the holding area where some checks (visual, mechanical, electrical) will be done. From there, it is driven onto a test track or short road test in order to verify that it is drivable and up to standards. The idea that it’s a good thing that a car has a number of kilometers on it means that, hopefully, a proper road and course test was done to make sure it meets standards.

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After that, it is driven to another holding area where they either fix some issues and do the road test again, or they pass the car off to be delivered. It is then driven onto a car transporter in the lot, then it is taken off the car transporter and driven onto a boat if it needs to be shipped. The car is then driven off the boat and onto a car transporter to be taken to a dealership. If it is not loaded onto a transporter, and the dealership prefers to use drivers to pull-out the car to get to their showrooms, even more so that the odometer rises. You also have to take into account the distance from the delivery point and showrooms if they are driven. All of these add up to a brand new car’s odometer.

Typically, if a car has over 1,000 kilometers on it, it is considered a demo unit used by the showroom or distributor to take customers out on test drives. Or, in our case, media units that may have been taken out on drives and reviewed extensively. If that is the case, then dealerships will market these as demo units with mileage, and will offer these vehicles at a sizable discount, but will never pass it off as brand new. Getting a demo unit might even mean that the car is already broken in, and you can be sure that the service intervals have been followed to the letter. In the end, a dealership can call their car “new” despite some mileage, but always remember to get all the details before making a purchase.

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