Average Age of U.S. Vehicles Hits Record High as Prices Climb

High prices push average U.S. vehicle age to a record 12.6 years as consumers hold onto cars longer.

The average age of vehicles on U.S. roads has reached a record 12.6 years in 2024, as consumers grapple with the high costs of new cars. This milestone, reported by S&P Global Mobility, reflects the economic pressures forcing people to keep their cars longer.

According to S&P Global Mobility, which tracks vehicle registration data across the country, the average vehicle age increased by about two months from the previous year’s record. Despite the recent slowdown in this growth, the average age of vehicles has risen steadily over the years. In 2023, the average vehicle age grew by three months compared to 2022.

Todd Campau, an aftermarket leader at S&P Global Mobility, noted that the high prices of new vehicles are a significant factor behind this trend. With the average price of a new vehicle hovering just above $45,000 in April 2024, many consumers find it prohibitively expensive to upgrade. Although this figure represents a decrease of over $2,000 from its peak in December 2022, it remains a substantial financial burden for many households.

“It’s prohibitively high for a lot of households now,” said Campau. “So I think consumers are being painted into the corner of having to keep the vehicle on the road longer.”

Additionally, consumers are cautious about transitioning to electric or hybrid vehicles due to concerns about the reliability and availability of charging infrastructure. This hesitation, combined with the fact that modern vehicles are built to last longer, contributes to the growing average vehicle age.

Despite these challenges, new vehicle sales in the U.S. are beginning to recover from pandemic-related disruptions. Campau predicts that sales will reach approximately 16 million units this year, an increase from 15.6 million in 2023 and 13.9 million in 2022. As new vehicles replace older ones, the average age of vehicles is expected to stabilize.

The rising average age of vehicles presents a boon for the auto repair industry. With around 70% of vehicles on the road being six years or older, beyond their manufacturer warranties, local mechanics are likely to see increased business. Regular maintenance and repairs will become essential for consumers aiming to extend the lifespan of their aging vehicles.

In summary, the record-high average vehicle age in the U.S. underscores the financial constraints faced by consumers amidst rising new car prices. As the market begins to adjust and new vehicle sales recover, this trend may eventually stabilize, but for now, the longevity of vehicles and the services of auto repair shops remain crucial.

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