September 22, 2023

In 2022, the typical age of a car on the highway within the U.S. surpassed 12 years—a document excessive. The rising age of American automobiles is a longtime pattern—the average age of automobiles in operation within the U.S. has grown by about 45% since 1995—that gained momentum within the final 5 years because of a constellation of adjustments inside the automotive business starting from a decline in stock to rising costs for brand spanking new and used automobiles.

The Common collected information from official authorities and numerous personal sources to grasp how the age of automobiles working on U.S. roadways has modified. Sources embrace the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, IHS Markit, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Trade analysts and the dealerships servicing lots of our automobiles and SUVs credit score technical developments for our longer relationships with automobiles. Suspensions are extra rugged right this moment, whereas engines are extra fuel-efficient and might last more than ever: Reaching 200,000 miles in your odometer with out main points is no longer unheard of. However new automobiles have additionally elevated in value as producers have produced fewer fashions yearly since 2017.

In 2018, the automotive business noticed a shift from a U.S. market saturated with new automobiles. Automotive gross sales had been slumping because of the Nice Recession, however Individuals rising from it took benefit of the low-interest charges set by the Fed to take out loans. New automobile gross sales, in flip, soared.

An getting old car’s proprietor would possibly incur extra upkeep prices because the car racks up miles on the odometer. However ultimately, the automobile mortgage is paid off and maintenance, insurance coverage, and gas grow to be the principle prices of proudly owning the car. Since a automobile sometimes loses worth because it ages, an older car additionally tends to be cheaper to insure than a brand new automobile. These elements could make holding onto a paid-off, getting old car—fairly than buying and selling up for a brand new journey—a stable proposition nowadays for on a regular basis transportation.

Plummeting car affordability for the reason that onset of the pandemic threatens so as to add one more issue to extending car possession. The most important spikes in current historical past for the price of new and used automobiles jumpstarted in 2021, as pc chip shortages and provide chain troubles plagued producers already hit exhausting by COVID-19 disruptions. Hovering demand and decrease provide pushed costs to unaffordable ranges for a lot of potential consumers.

Well-liked mainstream automobiles such because the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, which had been reasonably priced as just lately as 2019, are actually out of attain for the typical shopper, based on a current evaluation by the used car search engine iSeeCars.

The average monthly car payment for a new vehicle hit an all-time excessive of $648 earlier this yr, based on Edmunds. Whereas a five-year car mortgage was once frequent, customers are extra generally signing six- and seven-year notes for brand spanking new automobiles. Learn on to study extra about how the size of automobile possession has modified within the U.S. over the previous couple of a long time.


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Cars are actually sometimes on the highway for greater than 12 years

The common age of automobiles on U.S. roads elevated on the quickest clip recorded throughout the begin of the twenty first century. It’s maintained a gentle upward pattern by the 2010s. The sudden enhance in common possession spans for automobiles is essentially attributed to the 2008 monetary disaster and ensuing Nice Recession when many American customers held on to what that they had and delayed main purchases.


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The value for brand spanking new vehicles has elevated greater than 17% since 2020

As the typical age of automobiles on American roadways gained steadily over the past 5 years, vehicle costs skyrocketed over the past 24 months.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, many U.S. auto dealership showrooms got here to a standstill as nervous prospects stayed away and social distancing tips compelled many to quickly shut— whilst their upkeep outlets remained open as important companies. Dealership gross sales groups who didn’t have sturdy on-line buying and supply programs in place shortly hit the fuel on streamlining on-line buying and socially distant supply processes just like that of their rising opponents like Carvana.

Line chart displaying automobiles accessible on the market was lowering quickly even earlier than the pandemic.

Shoppers have observed an ever-dwindling choice of new automobiles to select from on dealership tons as stock inventory has plummeted since 2000. Producers noticed a listing dip after the onset of the Nice Recession however had steadily replenished inventories within the mid-2010s to pre-recession ranges. 

Home auto inventories are at their lowest since information assortment started in 1993. Demand for brand spanking new automobiles fell after 2018 however shot again up in 2021 simply as automakers had been struggling to ship new models to dealerships.


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Line chart displaying that new passenger automobile registrations are additionally trending downward.

New automobiles on the highway are a boon for the automotive service business, which positive aspects a bigger market of potential prospects with every new Toyota Corolla and Ford Bronco. Stock crunches on dealership tons that started in 2021 have given approach to rising costs, fewer new car gross sales, and fewer passenger automobiles being registered in every state.

Written by: Dom DiFurio