Average Age of U.S. Owned Vehicles Continues to Rise

October 15, 2018

The average age of a vehicle driven in America has steadily risen. The latest study reveals that the average is a higher than ever– 10.5 years in 2017 up from 9.3 years in 2009. The study’s findings also unmasks some other interesting facts.

First, trucks are kept much longer than vehicles on average while SUVs are kept less, although that could be related to the recent surge in SUV sales offsetting the overall ages of utility vehicles in the market. Cars sit in between, the two.

The average age of a pickup truck in 2009 was 11.2 years and now it is 13.6 years: a difference of 2.4 years. Meanwhile, SUVs in 2009 were an average of 7.1 years old and as of last year, they were 8.5 years old.

Additionally, there has been a correlation between your income, how old your car is and how long you keep it.

If you are earning $25,000 a year or less, you are driving the oldest car on average: 13 years, which is up from 11.9 in the latest report from Wolf Street. Not really a shock and perhaps even less surprising, the more money you make, the newer your vehicle tends to be.

People earning $25,000 and $49,999 saw the average age of their vehicles jump from 10.2 to 11.5. Those earning $50,000 and more annually, have the newer cars, but they also appear to be keeping them the longest.

Their average car in 2009 was 9.1 years old, but now it is 10.7 years: a gap of 1.6 years. Bigger earners beyond that see the gap dropping again. This appears to be where the sweet spot is among earnings, car price and durability.

The quality of vehicles across the board is on the rise, allowing them to be kept longer. Also, new vehicle prices continue to rise, meaning buyers of used cars will typically get better value for their money than those that buy new.

It is very likely that the situation of expensive new vehicles will worsen with tariffs on imported cars and the tariffs’ estimated impact on American employment.

So, when is it time to get rid of your old vehicle? Common sense says when repairs become frequent and it is unsafe. Some say when repairs exceed $1,000 in addition to regular maintenance. Others suggest when repair costs are 50% more than the market value of the vehicle.

Take time to know what your vehicle is worth. You may be surprise how much your vehicle dropped in value as soon as you drove it off the car lot. It may also be a good idea to calculate the difference in annual insurance costs between your old vehicle and a new vehicle. There is a lot to consider before getting rid of your old clunker.

(2018). Strong, Michael. “Average Age of Vehicles in the U.S. is Higher than Ever”. Retrieved from

Data sources from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and National Household Travel Survey to determine the ages of vehicles driven by different socioeconomic groups.