People keeping their cars longer these days

Used to be people traded in their cars with some frequency.

Then came the recession, and vehicle owners held on to their existing wheels longer and longer.

Just how much longer can be seen in the results of the latest survey by researcher R.L. Polk.

The company found that owners of new cars and trucks now hold on to them nearly six years, based on data gathered last year. That’s the longest since Polk began doing its survey some eight years ago.

Back then, people held their  new vehicles only about four  years.

Used car and truck owners followed their lead. In 2003, they held on to their rides for about 32 months. Last year that spiked to another record, nearly 50 months. A Polk chart and other details can be found here.

The average age of cars and trucks on the road is 10.8  years, Polk says.

As to why people are holding on to their vehicles longer, there’s not much surprise.

First, there’s the economy. It’s affected all consumer spending, and high-ticket items like cars and trucks are an obvious casualty. With the job market still softish, shoppers lack the confidence to take on more long-term debt.

Also, speaking of long-term, loans run longer these days, so buyers are trying to hang on to their vehicles at least until they’re paid off, or close to it.

Finally, they make them better now, so cars and trucks last longer. At least most of them.

While this doesn’t make for great news for auto dealers, the aftermarkets and service shops ought to be happy: it will take a lot more nurturing to keep aging vehicles on the road.

10 comments Add your comment

Bob Hammer

February 22nd, 2012
10:14 am

Enter your comments here

All the more reason to...

February 22nd, 2012
3:16 pm

Trade it in for a newer, more safety featured car. With so many fuel effecient, safe and better equipped cars available, you may be costing yourself more by hanging on to that old car…


February 22nd, 2012
3:44 pm

I have a 10 year old vehicle manufactured across the pond that I will be trading in this year which had a 10 year 120K warranty. I really like several of the new models by GM, Ford, & Chrysler and would prefer to buy made in USA, but the warranty offered by the likes of KIA & Hyundai is far superior to that of GM, Ford, & Chrysler. American manufacturers need to stand behind their products with a better warranty in order to get back buyers such as myself.

While GM will warranty drive train up to 100k, it is for only 5 years or 100K whichever comes first. Unless you are a high mileage driver that is effectively half the warranty for foriegn competition.

Richard 'Dick' Weiner

February 22nd, 2012
4:04 pm

what heisenberg said


February 22nd, 2012
4:05 pm

I have a SUV that I bought new in 2000. It is a 2001 model Ford. I love it. It has 244,000 miles. Original motor, transmission worked on before 100,000 miles. Only replaced the fuel pump. I try to take very good care of this vehicle.

[...] for Odyssey minivans from the 2008 and 2009 model …Americans keeping cars longerThe ProvincePeople keeping their cars longer these daysAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Americans keep their new cars for almost six yearsLos Angeles [...]


February 22nd, 2012
4:43 pm

2007 MBenz – paid for!

Not a Kenyan

February 22nd, 2012
7:04 pm

As long as knuckledraggers keep electing a jive-talking, socialist Kenyan (as in non-American) as President, the rest of the economically suffering populace will continue to NOT buy new things.

[...] new-car owners in 2003, people were keeping new vehicles for about four years, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Now, Polk reports that buyers are waiting for an average of 71.4 months to sell or trade their new [...]

[...] has recently been in the news a study that showed that people are keeping their vehicles for 6 years. Compare this to the 4 years people kept their vehicles just a short 8 years ago. What factored [...]