Average US vehicle age reaches record 12.6 years as high prices encourage people to keep them longer

Cars, trucks, and SUVs in the United States are continuing to age, reaching a new milestone with an average age of 12.6 years in 2024. This trend can be attributed to the fact that people are holding onto their vehicles for longer periods of time, mainly due to the rising cost of purchasing new ones.

According to S&P Global Mobility, the average age of vehicles in the United States has increased by approximately two months compared to last year’s record.

The average age growth is beginning to decelerate as the automotive industry bounces back from the challenges caused by the global chip shortage. In 2023, the average age of vehicles only increased by three months.

According to J.D. Power, even though the average selling price of new vehicles in the U.S. dipped by over $2,000 from its peak in December 2022, it still stands at just over $45,000. This high price point makes it difficult for many people to afford new cars.

According to Todd Campau, aftermarket leader for S&P Global Mobility, the cost of owning a vehicle has become too expensive for many households. As a result, consumers are finding themselves in a situation where they have no choice but to keep their vehicles on the road for a longer period of time.

Many individuals are currently contemplating whether they should opt for an electric vehicle, a gas-electric hybrid, or stick with a traditional gasoline vehicle. One of the concerns that often arises is the availability and reliability of the charging network. People want to ensure that they can travel without the fear of running out of battery power. Additionally, modern vehicles are built to a higher standard and have a longer lifespan compared to previous models.

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According to Compau, new vehicle sales in the U.S. are gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels. Instead of being driven by illness and supply-chain issues, the main factors influencing sales are prices and interest rates. Compau predicts that sales will reach approximately 16 million this year, surpassing the figures of 15.6 million in the previous year and 13.9 million in 2022.

According to Compau, the average age of the nation’s fleet of 286 million passenger vehicles should stabilize and stop growing as more new vehicles are sold to replace aging ones. Additionally, he notes that the average price may decrease as more lower-cost vehicles are being sold compared to the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.

The fact that people are holding onto their vehicles for longer periods of time is actually great news for local auto repair shops. According to the expert, approximately 70% of the cars currently on the road are 6 years old or older, which means they are no longer covered by the original manufacturer warranties.

According to Campau, individuals who manage to hold onto their vehicles for several years typically ensure that they regularly change the oil and adhere to the maintenance schedules recommended by the manufacturer.

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