The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
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Americans Are Driving Older and Older Cars

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A Honda Civic undergoing testing in 2007.
A Honda Civic undergoing testing in 2007.
Photo: Mark Lennihan (AP)

New cars are overrated, as most of us who buy cars from questionable people and mutants online know. But the rest of America is catching up to that mindset—the “new cars are overrated” one, not the one about questionable people and mutants online—as the average age of vehicles on the road just keeps going up.

At this rate, the average will be a teenager soon. Get the Converse and general distaste for authority out.


The average age of cars and trucks in the U.S. just hit 11.8 years, according to an Associated Press story via Autoblog, and it makes a lot of sense if you’ve got a vehicle from around 2007 in the garage (or in the driveway, or parked on the street). That nearly 12-year average is a new record, the story said, and it’s up from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s numbers showing an average 9.3 of years in 2009 and 10.5 years in 2017.

The data this time came from London company IHS Markit, which expects the average age to pass 12 years early in the next decade. But it’s already past that in some parts of the U.S., according to the story:

Western states have the oldest vehicles at 12.4 years, while in the Northeast the average age is only 10.9 years. That’s due largely to less stop-and-start traffic that wears on a vehicle. Weather conditions also play a part.

Montana has the oldest average age at 16.6 years, while the youngest is Vermont, with an average age of 9.9 years.


IHS Markit said one of the reasons people are fine with older and older cars is because they’re built better than cars considered “old” 12 years ago would have been, allowing owners to feel more comfortable about keeping them on the road longer. Another reason is one that we’re all familiar with: Original owners are keeping their cars longer and maintaining them better, because those terribly long financing periods require it.

That helps both the entities financing it and the vehicles being financed, since IHS Markit said the better attention to maintenance “helps improve the overall life of the vehicle.” Surely, the vehicle is happy. The owner, probably less so.

But, hey, old vehicles need love too, and it looks like there’s more and more to go around—even if the circumstances forcing that into play aren’t ideal.