'My car came with 50 kilometers when delivered. Is it a problem?'

Jun 09, 2020 | Same topic: Automotive FYIs
Spoiler alert: it’s normal and here’s why.

For those of you who are vehicle owners. You definitely remember the process of buying it. From the test drive to the financing process, you were understandably excited, but while you couldn’t wait to get your hands on your new car, you’re also a bit worried. Why is it taking too long? What if something goes wrong with the delivery? Etc.

For first time buyers, the experience is magnified ten-fold. This is because for a first-time car buyer/owner, there are many unknowns that he/she is yet to encounter.

Sure, the unexpected things can be alleviated by research, but experiencing car buying in actuality is far different than reading it off some guide.

A picture of a new car's odo with mileage

Don't get mad, this is completely normal

In relation to the many uncertainties of buying a car for the first time, some of you who have recently received their beloved brand car will have definitely checked every single nook and cranny.

But then once you get to the odometer, you might have noticed that it already has some kilometers on it – about a hundred or so.

Before you get up in arms to complain to the dealership about why your brand new car’s odo isn’t reading at zero, do understand that this is totally normal, and it’s actually a good thing for a car owner, and his/her car. Now, why is that?

From the assembly line to the test track

Now as you know, most car manufacturers nowadays build their cars in an assembly line. Once a car is done, the car is then started, and then driven off to a holding area.

Next, some checks will then be performed on the said car’s parts. This is a part of quality assurance, and some manufacturers will even drive it on a short road test track to verify its drivability, and if all of its features are working.

If there are issues, then the car is driven off to another holding area for someone to fix the issues. And finally, it is then driven off to another holding area to be loaded to a car transporter.

A picture of a loaded car delivery truck

Loading a truck like this requires the cars to be moved around, hence the mileage

>>> Related: 9 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying A Car In The Philippines

While there is some variance to how different car manufactures do this, we’re of the mind that most car companies will not ship a finished car without testing. That being said, it is virtually impossible to get a brand new car with zero mileage on its odometer.

If a manufacturer didn’t do quality assurance testing, then the chances of handing over a possible car with manufacturing issues to a customer will become greater, and nobody wants that to happen.

If a manufacturer chooses to make their employees push the car from one holding area to another holding area, then the quality assurance process, as well as the manufacturing process would become an exhausting, inefficient mess.

A picture of a car assembly line

Modern day assembly lines are well oiled machines where inefficiency is a big problem

>>> Related: How to track mileage without an odometer & why you need to do it

The Logistics of delivering a car

Apart from the testing, and then moving from the assembly line to a holding area, a brand new car will be driven several times when being delivered.

Say, for example, the car is being loaded on a cargo ship. It would make more sense to drive every single car unit to a ship’s cargo hold directly, than loading each of them on trucks which in turn will then be loaded aboard a ship.

A picture of a cargo ship carrying brand new cars

You can't push a car when loading it on a cargo vessel, can you?

Here in the Philippines, there are even cases that it is significantly more efficient for the manufacturer to drive the fresh new car from the assembly plant to the dealership than loading it up on a truck.

Even those new cars loaded up on a car delivery truck will have to be started and then driven off the said truck and into the dealership.

Couple that with the fact that in the dealership facility itself, they sometimes even move their stock around to maximize space. This is especially true when a particular car model is popular and when the stocks for the said model are being sold at a fast pace.

A picture of a car dealership lot

A dealership's car lot is a busy but well arranged place that's always moving

The delivery of cars to remote areas

Ideally, a car dealership will want to keep the mileage of their brand new cars as low as possible. That’s why in large cities like Davao and Metro Manila, a dealership will most likely deliver a vehicle on board a flatbed truck. In short, a dealership will always choose the shortest route possible.

Do note though that many of us Filipinos live outside of large cities. There are some of us that even reside in areas that are lacking dealerships.

As such, some car deliveries to these provincial areas are mostly done by having an assigned employee drive the unit to the customer as it wouldn’t make much sense delivering every single unit to different locations using a different truck for each wouldn’t it?

>>> Related: [Philkotse guide] What if you have bought a high-mileage car?

Acceptable delivery mileage?

While a bit of kilometer on the odometer isn’t actually a big deal and is pretty normal, the acceptable delivery mileage, as per rule of thumb among car experts, is at 200 miles or 321 kilometers.

Now, this might vary depending on where you live. For that, you can refer to Google Maps to determine the exact travel distance to your delivery point from the dealership where you ordered the car.

Once you received that car check the odometer but do allow for some leeway, because as we’ve mentioned earlier, some mileage may have been accrued when testing and delivering the car.

A picture of the Sta Rosa Laguna Toyota plant

Some manufacturers, like Mitsubishi are assembling some of their models locally. This makes logistics easier

Another rule of thumb that you should note though, is that cars with over 1,000 kilometers are considered as demo units. These were used as test drive units by the dealership, and if sold, are priced significantly lower than the brand new car.

If you have more questions about delivery mileage, don’t hesitate to ask questions from the dealerships you’re buying your car from.

For more car buying guides, keep reading here on Philkotse.com.


Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar learned how to drive a car years before he got his license. Today, he's still looking for that perfect '90s Japanese coupe to drive into the sunset while listening to Crazy Little Love by Nuage. Also has a thing for badass off-road vehicles and weird engine swaps.