Americans are holding on to their vehicles longer than they ever have before. According to a report from the business research firm IHS Markit, the average age of vehicles on the road reached a record 11.8 years in 2018, up from 10.3 years in 2009. The report also predicts the number of vehicles in the 6 to 11-year-old age range will rise 27 percent by 2023.
IHS Markit researchers credit "better technology and overall vehicle quality improvements" as the key driver of rising vehicle ages. KTRH Car Pro Jerry Reynolds agrees, noting today's cars have come a long way from that old beater your grandpa had. "No question, they're lasting longer. Every automaker is building better cars than they ever have before," says Reynolds.
Not only are cars better these days (with many built to reach 200,000 miles), but their owners tend to take better care of them. "I think people have been educated over the past decade especially that maintenance does pay off in the long run," says Reynolds. "If you take care of your car, the car will take care of you."
Another factor Reynolds credits for the trend in aging vehicles is that people are financing cars for longer terms. "Once you get a car paid off, you really want to enjoy that," he says. "And until the point there is a lot of repairs (owners) hang on to them, and with cars being built better than ever before, people tend to hang on to them."
Nevertheless, there's still a healthy market for new cars. "There's two different mindsets...there's the mindset of I want the latest and greatest, and then there's the mindset of I want to drive a car until the wheels fall off of it," says Reynolds. "Well, that second group gets to do that these days."