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Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

Posted November 06, 2015 6:57 AM by Jordan Perch

Over the past couple of years, millions of cars have been recalled due to all sorts of safety issues, indicating that the level of quality and reliability of vehicles nowadays is far from ideal. But, results of a recent survey conducted by IHS Automotive point to the contrary, as they show that the average age of vehicles on U.S. roads today is 11.5 years, which is a record high. This means that the average vehicle in operation now was introduced in 2004. IHS Automotive, which provides consulting services and industry data and analysis for the automotive industry, says that the average age of vehicles is based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation (VIO) taken Jan. 1 of this year.


Researchers found that on top of the average age of vehicles, registrations for light cars have also hit a record high, with 257,900,000 cars registered so far this year, a 2.1 percent jump over last year. However, IHS notes that the pace at which average age is increasing has slowed down lately, predicting that it will only reach 11.6 years in 2016 and 11.7 years in 2018.


"As long as we have tracked average age, it has gradually risen over time due to the increasing quality of automobiles," said Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive. "For the five to six years following the recession, however, average age increased about five times its traditional rate, which we attribute to the nearly 40 percent drop in new vehicle sales in 2008-2009. We're now seeing average age begin to plateau and return to its traditional rate of increase as consumers have recovered from the great recession and have begun buying new vehicles again."


The first thought that comes to mind after finding out that the age of the average car on U.S. roads is at an all-time high, is that the quality of vehicles currently in use is better than the quality of those built more than 15 years ago, featuring more reliable braking and transmission systems, resulting in longer lifespan.


Another reason why the typical car in the U.S. keeps getting older is that many people keep new cars longer than they did a decade ago. IHS says that today's drivers hold on to their cars for an average of 77.8 months, which is 26 months longer than they did in 2006. This increase comes as a bit of a surprise, considering that new car sales are also on the rise. But, IHS estimates that the growth rate of new vehicle registrations is not high enough to prevent a further increase in average age of vehicles in operation.


The main takeaway from this survey is that cars are getting increasingly reliable and durable, making consumers hold on to their vehicles for longer periods of time.

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#1

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/06/2015 7:16 AM

Could be drawing a wrong conclusion. Maybe the "average" age is weighted by the fact that the newer models have already fallen apart, and are off the road, leaving a preponderance of older, more reliable models.

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#2

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/06/2015 7:17 AM

I got rid of my 2000 Oldsmobile Intrique in May of 2014..... after 225,000 miles...... engine ran great,.... mechanically it was sound but the frame was rusting out...... I dropped it off at the salvage yard, and not a minute too soon.

When I braked to turn in, the brake line ruptured. Still had brakes, but was going fast. Winter in the northern states can be brutal,..... but as I was repairing it.... the Oldsmobile Intrique was noted for rusting inside out.

I actually replaced it with a 2007 Buick Lucerne. Another car they don't make anymore.... I like it.

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#3
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Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/06/2015 10:06 AM

Sounds like my wife's Hyundai--the very last time it started was to get it to a dealer to "trade it in" after 8 yrs / 175K. The dealer went to start it and got nothing but black smoke...they gave us $200 for it.

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Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/06/2015 10:39 AM

Should have taken it to the salvage yard.... And got $500 for it.....

Of course as long as it had the original catalytic converter...

but of course if the salvage yard was another mile down the road, the tow would have erased that.

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Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/07/2015 3:08 PM

Step son-in-law had a beater mobile mustang that I finally got running - at least to the point of driving it to a dealership for a trade-in. The brakes were a joke, so after taking a test drive, the dealer (white faced at that point) offered $300 off the car he was buying, if he would NOT trade it in!

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#11
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Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/07/2015 4:54 PM

When I called up the salvage yard, how much for a Oldsmobile Intrique, their reply was $200-$300 dollars.

I didn't say anything and let the phone be quite and waited for them to respond which they did, they responded with 'hello'.

Than I respond with a bland '$300 huh?' Giving no indication of disappointment or that I was getting $300.

Then there response was, "well, does it still have the original catalytic converter on it?"

I replied "yes".

Then they replied "we can give you $500 cash then".

And they did.

I always felt, that a car running was worth $500, but with this one rusting out from the inside out. I was happy.

But this car look great from the outside. Nice paint. But, I had to Jack the car up about 3 weeks prior. And I put the Jack under the Jack point and the body was just crumbled, almost like it was the paint holding it together.

I had already planned on junking it and had my replacement car already picked out.

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#5

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/06/2015 9:36 PM

"My" newest vehicle is a 2004. I bought it for the kid.

My own is a 2001. Then, it's a 1993, then it's a 1972.

Of those the newest one is the worst.

I'll never buy off the showroom floor.

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#6

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/06/2015 10:56 PM

In the 60's and 70's, we had to replace the exhaust system every year or two. There were muffler shops on every corner. I wasn't a big fan of Japanese cars at the time, but I have to give them credit for waking up the American auto makers. In the 80's, American cars had to compete. My dad bought a new car every 5 years in the 50's, 60's and 70's, not because he was status-conscious... He was as cheap as any man who ever walked the face of this nice planet. It was because after 5 years, cars were absolute junk. He wouldn't buy a used car. Those days are gone... I will probably never buy another new car. I presently have a 2001, 2003 and another 2003. They are all great cars. No rust to speak of... A few nice-looking dents... And no mechanical issues, except crap like electric windows.

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#7

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/07/2015 8:04 AM

With platinum tipped spark plugs, more durable exhaust systems, synthetic oils, etc. the wave of quality improvement seems to have crested about 15 years ago. I own 4 passenger vehicles with an average age of 17.8 years and am not likely to acquire or replace with a newer vehicle as long as the touted value increase is nothing more than electronic fru-fru which does nothing more than increase the number of pages in the owners' manuals, the purchase price, the number of recalls and visits to the repair shops.

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#8

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/07/2015 8:44 AM

I think there are a number of factors. Due to an out of control gov that doesn't understand free enterprise and capitalism and an egregious tax system, fewer people are working and those who are are making less, overall. Because of that I think more and more people are coming to understand finances better and realize that it is extremely dumb to borrow money for a depreciating liability.

Most people are drowning in debt and that puts tremendous on them in all areas of their lives. As a verse in the Bible puts it, "the borrower is slave to the lender."

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#10

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/07/2015 3:59 PM

That number would have been 16.8 years, but Chevy Cavaliers badly impacted that average.

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Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/07/2015 4:55 PM

So your saying the cavalier brought the bell curve down.... I know of some people that do that.

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#13

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/10/2015 5:58 AM

One factor is that in 2009 the government (i.e. taxpayers) paid people to destroy their old cars and buy new ones.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_Allowance_Rebate_System

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Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/10/2015 7:31 AM

yes, that missed up the curve... statistically speaking.

In reality, this report is inaccurate.

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#15

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/10/2015 8:16 PM

Does "aged" means "worn out". Ok, so how "worn out" are you? Does it fit? The next time you know your into a slap shock for several seconds.

Or worst "used". Ok, so how "used" are you?

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#16

Re: Average Age of Cars in the U.S. Reaches a Record High 11.5 Year

11/11/2015 1:59 PM

I think some people (myself included) don't trust or want cars with the "latest and greatest" gadgets. All these gadgets cost money and we don't need or want to spend money on glitchy gadgets. Many of us are satisfied with plain old reliable transportation. Another thing is: those of us who still do our own servicing find that the new cars don't allow for this. If it breaks down, we have to pay to have it fixed and that is very expensive as repairs depend on specialized equipment only the dealers have. It's the same as TV sets. Years ago, it was possible to repair a TV. Today, they are throwaway's. I feel it's all part of a much larger conspiracy by unknown powers to extract as much money from the consumer. Almost everything today costs more to repair than it's worth and if it can be repaired, you need to take out a loan to pay for it. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Due to my financial situation, I have had to get rid of a newer car that broke down because I couldn't afford to have it repaired or have dealer servicing. My options were either: buy a new car and go into debt, or get a used car that I can fix if it breaks. I'm sorry; I didn't mean for this to become a rant.

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