Americans are Keeping Their Cars Longer in 2019

100,000 Miles is Nothing!

Back in 2014 we posted a blog about Americans keeping their cars longer than ever. Back then it was 11.4 years according to several sources. The trend for keeping a car for many years and over 100,000 miles seems to have started during the recession years of the late 2000’s. It was a time when families were rethinking household budgets while at the same time realizing that the old car, while not providing the street cred of a new one, still had some life in it.

For many, a quick calculation of how much that 8 or 10 year-old car will cost to maintain each year vs. a new car payment (six years of $500?), the decision becomes easier. In most cases, todays cars are built to last. 100,000 even 200,000 miles are just numbers. Getting a car past 200,000 is not too difficult with some sensible and regular maintenance. In this writer’s family we have a 2007 Silverado diesel with 245k, a Toyota Rav 4 with 135k and a Dodge Caravan with 230k!  The Dodge has become an experiment in longevity and the Silverado is about to be traded. Oddly, the dealership is excited to get the trade-in on a 12-year-old truck and says he already has a buyer. How things have changed. It wasn’t long ago when most people wouldn’t have dreamed of buying an old vehicle with almost 250,000 miles on it!

Soon People Will Keep Cars for 12 Years

Fast forward to 2019 and the latest data from IHS Markit, shows that Americans are now keeping their cars for an average of 11.8 years, expected to pass 12 years in the next decade. Western states have the oldest vehicles with an average of 12.4 years thought to be due to less stop and start driving. Another fun fact is in Montana where people keep their cars (trucks?) for 16.6 years – the longest in the U.S.

Since cars are built better, stronger and of better quality materials, it makes sense they will last longer. Higher priced cars and higher interest rates means many will continue to keep their old cars. According to Kelley Blue Book, the estimated average price in 2019 for a light vehicle is a whopping $36,843!

With people financing their cars for longer periods, it makes sense to maintain the car well so it will outlast the loan. Once the vehicle is paid off after a lengthy loan period, many will decide to keep it even longer. The thought of no car payment after 5,6 or even 7 years is a big relief to most

Good News for Auto Mechanics and Paint & Body Shops!

This is all good news for auto mechanics and paint and body shops since older cars will require more maintenance and a new paint job for street appeal. Auto mechanics who have specialized in newer cars may want to rethink their business model to include good sources for affordable parts for older cars.

What does this mean for the auto manufacturers? They’ve spoiled us with better cars which creates brand loyalty for them. How will they manage and who will survive a slow down in new car sales? Will there always be enough of a rotation of old cars to the junkyard with owners then buying new? Or enough people who must have that “new car smell” every 3 years? Only time will tell, but for me – I’ll keep my 2011 Rav 4 for as long as it stays the reliable, “old shoe” it has been for the past 8 years.

If you have an older vehicle and you’re thinking about giving it a facelift, check out Econo’s Locations page to find an Econo Auto Painting shop near you!

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