THE BLOG
08/09/2013 11:52 am ET Updated Oct 08, 2013

American Drivers Keeping Cars on the Road for Longer: Average Age Now 11.4 Years

A recently released report has shown that American drivers are now keeping their cars on the road for longer than ever, with the average age of vehicles hitting a record 11.4 years at the start of this year. Motorists are keeping their cars on the road for longer for a variety of reasons, from increased quality of vehicles through to being unable to afford a new car.

There are nearly 250 million cars and trucks on the roads in the United States, and the average age has increased to 11.4 years from 11.2 years at the start of last year. Compared to 2007, prior to the financial crisis, the average age has increased by almost two years according to research company Polk. This has seen the number of cars being sent to the scrap yard falling by around 50 percent.

Financial and environmental impact

Drivers who are keeping their vehicles on the road for longer because they are still in pretty good condition and do not need changing are able to reap the financial benefits. However, there are also many people who are keeping their vehicles on the road purely because they are unable to afford a new car, and these are the drivers that could be doing themselves more financial harm than good.

In addition, those who are driving around vehicles that are not in particularly good condition purely because of the cost of replacing the car could also be doing a lot more damage to the environment. Whether or not drivers should be keeping their cars on the road for longer and longer periods is really down to the individual car, its history and its condition.

Janet Wright, an industry professional from SellMart, said:

"The fact that drivers in the United States are keeping their vehicles on the road for longer periods of time is partly down to the higher calibre and quality of cars that drivers have been purchasing. Being able to keep your car running for longer is great providing it is still safe, reliable, and in good condition. However, there is also a downside to this report - the fact that some people are keeping cars on the road that are not in good condition and are having a negative impact on the environment as well as on the drivers' wallets. Those who fall into the latter really need to consider whether it is worth shelling out on repairs time and time again or whether they should just bite the bullet, sell their old car and invest in something newer."

Age of cars set to continue to rise

According to officials from Polk, the average age of cars and trucks on the roads of the United States is set to continue rising over the next few years. Over the next five years the research firm claims that the number of cars aged twelve years or older will increase even though new vehicle sales remain healthy, standing at around 15.5 million a year in the United States.