Americans Holding Onto Their Vehicles For Longer, Average Model Is Now 11.8 Years Old

Americans are holding onto their vehicles for longer as a new study from IHS Markit has revealed the average age of light-duty vehicles in the United States is 11.8 years.

The study found the oldest vehicles are located in the western United States where they average 12.4 years old. The ‘newest’ vehicles are in the Northeastern part of the country where the average age is 10.9 years.

More specifically, Montana had the oldest average vehicle age in the country at 16.6 years. Vermont was the ‘youngest’ at 9.9 years.

Unsurprisingly, the popularity of trucks, crossovers and SUVs was also reflected in the study. While the average age of passenger cars increased 2.2 percent from last year, the average age of trucks only climbed by 0.1 percent.

Vehicle prices have been climbing, but IHS Markit’s Mark Seng suggested that’s not the reason why people are holding onto their vehicles for longer. Instead, he credits “better technology and overall vehicle quality improvements” as some of the key reasons behind the aging vehicle fleet.

Besides growing older, the fleet is growing larger. According to the study, there are more than 278 million light-duty vehicles in operation today. That’s an increase of more than 5.9 million from last year and it’s one of the highest increases ever recorded by the company.

Also Read: America’s Vehicle Fleet Is Getting Older As The Average Model Is Now 10.5 Years Old

Automakers might be concerned that consumers are holding onto their vehicles for longer, but it’s not all bad news for the industry. In particular, Seng said aging vehicles could be a boon for aftermarket companies as well as service and repair centers.

  • Mr. EP9

    It makes sense. If your current car works just fine and does everything you need it to, what’s the point in buying a new one and potentially taking out loans that you may not be able to pay back?

    • Ilbirs

      You must also add the possibility that someone giving a perfect fine car in exchange for a newer one can have the bad luck of replacing a faithful companion by a pile of junk that will give you two episodes of joy: one when buying it and other one when getting rid of it.

    • Mill0048

      I also feel that the desire for a new car has left most people, as well as the whole ownership experience. The cost of buying, maintaining, and other ownership expenses (taxes, fuel, ins, etc). Then add fun sapping congestion, long commute times, lame ‘drivers’, and poor roads. I agree with your take that people are starting to see them more as appliances. A new car in the driveway just doesn’t seem to impress like it used to. Attitudes appear to be shifting toward efficient transportation.

  • Six_Tymes

    Good, maybe just maybe that will wake up the car industry. They have OUT PRICED most people from being able to buy new.

  • Ilbirs

    Depending on the car and the automaker, you can have it for more than a decade and it’ll still go strong enough for you to not thinking about replacing it with that much urge. If it serves well, less reasons to replace it and its overall maintenance can be even lower than replacing it from a given time to a given time.

  • ErnieB

    The car industry will have is turn at starting a recession. Cars are way too expensive for the average person to afford. While the unemployment rate is at an all time low, incomes are stagnant. The average car loan is nearing $400/mo for a basic new car.. something is wrong!

    • TheBelltower

      I don’t think that the average age of a car suggests that a replacement new car is too expensive. It suggests that cars last a lot longer. I also believe that there hasn’t been enough innovation among mainstream cars, so buyers aren’t all that excited about investing in a new car. A new Camry isn’t much more interesting than a decade old Camry. A new 3 series is essentially the same as a decade old 3 series. Same with essentially every mainstream car and SUV on the market compared to a decade old generation of the same car. Although people can afford a new car, what’s the point in buying something new that isn’t much better? Especially when the current car is still running strong?

  • Nordschleife

    The reason I keep my car 2011 is because it has just enough tech to make it not feel super old.

    • Jarosław Kotowicz

      True. And also new cars are overcomplicated.

      • Nordschleife

        I mean if money was no object, them being over complicated is a non-issue for me personally.

    • Rasta_Farian


    • DHG2605

      I have a 17 Explorer and an 01 Bullitt Mustang. When I go from the Explorer to the stang it’s like going back to the stone ages! But still live the stang even though I have to actually pull the keys out of my pocket to start it.

  • BlackPegasus

    Having the title to your car with no payments is a good feeling.

    • Rasta_Farian


  • DHG2605

    Yep we have and 03 Explorer with almost 200k on it and an 08 Acura MDX with about 160k. Just handed them down to our kids, they are still cheaper to fix than to try and buy something newer.

  • nauticalone

    One only has to compare the rising cost of new vehicles (to the minimal rise / stagnation / or even reduced for some) to see the glaring difference. Yes cars are lasting longer in many cases but many people also simply cannot afford the high cost of new vehicles.

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