Average Age of Cars on Road Hits New High

By Sean Tucker 05/24/2022 10:08am

How old is your car? We’re surrounded by ads for up-to-the-minute cars with zippy electric drivetrains and screens that double as phone screens. But if your car dates to the days of the iPhone 3, you’re not alone. In fact, half of our cars are older than that.

The average car on American roads was built in Barack Obama’s first term. It’s 12.2 years old.

The figure comes from S&P Global Mobility Reports – formerly the automotive data team from IHS Markit. Analysts there combed through registrations nationwide to get the data.

Cars Outlasting Trucks

Despite the image of pickup trucks as bulletproof, tough immortals, Americans are more likely to hold onto a car than a truck. The average sedan or coupe, the report found, is 13.1 years old. The average truck or SUV is 11.6 years old.

“This is the fifth straight year the average vehicle age in the U.S. has risen. This year’s average age marks another all-time high for the average age even as the vehicle fleet recovered, growing by 3.5 million units in the past year,” the report says.

That’s due, in part, to Americans renewing lapsed registrations on vehicles they had stopped driving during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cost May Be a Driving Factor; But so is Quality

We may be holding onto our aging cars longer because it’s so expensive to replace them. In April, the average new car sold for $46,526 — an increase of $5,354 in just one year.

But we may also be holding onto them because they simply last longer.

Quality studies like those performed annually by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports repeatedly find that the average car is growing more dependable.

Repair studies show the same. Americans are seeking fewer car repairs than ever this year, though the repairs they do seek are more expensive.

Electric Cars on the Rise

Those of us who do replace our cars are quickly going electric. The total number of electric car registrations jumped 40% in just one year, S&P says. “The average age of electric vehicles in the US is 3.8 years of age this year, down from 3.9 last year.”