Americans keeping their clunkers longer

Here’s further proof of the toll the rotten economy is having on consumer spending habits.

In 2011, the average age of a vehicle in the U.S.  hit 10.8 years _ a record.

That’s up from 10.6 years for the average car or truck in 2010, and more than two years older than the average U.S. vehicle age back in 1995 when it was 8.4 years.

All is not gloom, however, according to a report from the Associated Press in Huffington Post.

An executive with the automotive research firm Polk said an expected uptick in vehicle sales this year, following last year’s rebound, should at lease slow the increase in the average age of cars and trucks in America.

But, he said, it will take several years of a strong economy to boost sales enough to reverse the trend and cause the average age to decline.

Auto sales reached 12.8 million units last year, hardly the glory days of 2005 when they hit 17 million, and still shy of the 16 million mark that’s considered the industry norm. Still, that was better than the 11.6 million vehicles sold in 2010 and much better than the 10.4 million sold in 2009 _ a 30-year low.

Sales of about 13.7 million vehicles are expected this year.

That increase is a relatively slight one and wouldn’t have much effect on the average age because there are so many vehicles on the road, about 240 million.

15 comments Add your comment

Coweta resident

January 18th, 2012
9:25 am

Is this really schocking news to anyone? If you don’t havea job, how can you possibly afford a new car? For those people who are lucky enough to be employed in this economy, they are just hanging on by a financial thread. This is a sad time for our country.


January 18th, 2012
11:39 am

Something else to consider is that the cars are made better than in the past and last much longer before needing expensive repairs. In the past having over 100k miles was considered very high mileage. Now cars easily run into the 200k range without the need for engine and transmission repairs.


January 18th, 2012
12:12 pm

Ford E-350
2000 Model
215000 miles
Tires, Brakes, fluid changes, wipers, and belts…
Priceless…. or at least cheaper than a new asian ride…..


January 18th, 2012
12:22 pm

KWS- Yours must be like my 02 and have the 7.3 engine. Those babies are suppose to go for up to 1 million miles!!! Just hit 285k on mine and still nothing other than tune-ups and tires. Gotta love it. Ford caught on though. They only put that engine in a few 03 models and replaced it with the 6.0 which is a piece of crap motor. In fact, I don’t care how nice the truck looks, if it has a 6.0…I won’t buy it.


January 18th, 2012
12:28 pm

Could get a new car, but proud to drive a 1999, would rather have money for more important things.


January 18th, 2012
4:17 pm

My Acura bought new in ‘02 is going strong and has required nothing other than routine maintenance. I used to buy a new car every 3-4 years, but no more – that’s just nuts.


January 18th, 2012
6:40 pm

“at lease”? or do you mean “at least”. Come on. There are a lot of people who would like your job. Better tighten up.

An executive with the automotive research firm Polk said an expected uptick in vehicle sales this year, following last year’s rebound, should at lease slow the increase in the average age of cars and trucks in America.

Phil Johnson

January 18th, 2012
8:07 pm

Cars last a lot longer than they used to. Even a 20 year old car can be surprisingly reliable (which is a 1992). It’s not unusual at all to see some old clunker from the 80s putting around especially if it’s a truck even up in Wisconsin where the roads are paved in salt every winter.

January 19th, 2012
2:30 am

For auto insurance check whether your state insurance department provides rate comparisons or check “Clearance Auto” website


January 19th, 2012
7:00 am

In March my vehicle will reach 14 years of age and 225,000 miles. I’ve taken good care of it and it runs as well now as it did then. It was the top-of-the-line 2WD Expedition in 1998 and cost $30k. Prices are up so dramatically now over what they were then that I can’t imagine replacing it for at least 6-10 more years.

A. S. Mathew

January 19th, 2012
7:49 am

Thousands of dollars are saved, as long as we can keep the car longer after the final payment. Now the cars last longer than the olden days of disposable cars after 100000 miles. As more older
cars are showing up in front of everybody’s homes, that culture will develop in our mindset. Most
of the people were not concerned with the mechanical condition of their car, but their constant
worry about the neighbour’s eye, what they will think about my old car?


January 19th, 2012
1:53 pm

my clunker’s 8 years old and is a piece of junk—I’ll never buy GM cars again! When I get a better job I’m buying Kia or Toyota–no more american junk.


January 20th, 2012
12:39 pm

I drive my 1995 Geo Prism daily – it just hit 223,000 miles yesterday. Good on gas and get me where I need to go – saves me money :-) who cares how it looks!

Richard Weiner

January 20th, 2012
5:11 pm

I buy a low miles car for $5k and then put 100k miles on it. Been doing it for years. Liability and uninsured motorist coverage is cheap. I don’t care if it gets a ding in the parking lot, and I don’t care if it’s only worth $1k when I’m done with it.

Keep'em rolling

January 20th, 2012
7:06 pm

A car and a house are the most expensive things someone can buy. A house could go up in value. A car will never go up in value. It will only go down. Buy a nice reliable used car. Reliable means Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Hyunda and not GM, Ford or Chrysler. I heard way too many horror stories about Ford and Chrysler and lived my own horror with GM. Change your own oil and rotate the tires every 5000 miles. Take care of it. Avoid cars that are coming off leases. People who lease cars rarely have maintenance performed on the car even when maintenance is included free in the lease. Once your car gets over 100,000 miles, start budgeting the maintenance for the car. It will still be a lot cheaper than a new one. A buddy of mine bought a used Mercedes 300D in 1990. He still has the car and puts 12,000 miles a year on it. Most planes used by Delta, American and United are over 20 years old, some as old as 40 years. A car can last 20 years. Most people never think about maintenance and upkeep on an automobile, they just want a new ride. I have seen way too many people declare bankruptcy because they kept getting “upside down” in car loans. Fact, most millionaires in this country drive cars that are older than 8 years old. Car payments are for suckers. Keep your old auto rolling and save the dough.