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.