Average Age of US Vehicles Hits Record High Amid High Prices, Supply Chain Issues

Average Age of US Vehicles Hits Record High Amid High Prices, Supply Chain Issues
Used cars are available for sale on a used car lot in Los Angeles on March 10, 2022. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

New data has found that car and light truck owners in the United States are holding onto their vehicles longer.

“The average age of cars and light trucks in the United States has risen again to a new record of 12.6 years in 2024, up by two months over 2023, according to new analysis,” from S&P Global Mobility, a provider of analytic automotive data.

The organization said during 2023, the average age of cars increased by three months, data showed.

The trend, however, is showing signs of slowing as new vehicle sales are starting to recover.

Since the pandemic, many industries— including the automotive sector—have been facing supply-chain issues, which led to shortages of parts and components, including computer chips.

New Car Prices Unaffordable for Many

The average price of a new vehicle in the U.S. still remains at over $45,000 as of April—around $2,000 down from its December 2022 peak.

According to Todd Campau, aftermarket leader for S&P Global Mobility, the price, however, is still significantly higher than many can afford.

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

Nonetheless, there are other contributing factors to the equation. Some people are undecided as to whether they’d be better off with an electric vehicle (EV) or a gas-electric hybrid instead of a gasoline vehicle. This, however, is contrasted by an increasingly more common concern about the wider availability of charging stations.

Another contributing factor lies in the fact that vehicles appear to now last longer than they did before, Mr. Campau added.

The trend, according to Mr. Campau, appears to be returning to pre-pandemic levels, with new car sales being mostly influenced by prices and interest rates as opposed to illness-related issues or problems pertaining to the supply chain.

Mr. Campau said new car sales are expected to increase to around 16 million this year, which shows an exponential increase from just under 14 million in 2022 and around 15.5 million last year.

NTD Photo
Ford pickup trucks for sale in Carlsbad, California. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Effectively, Mr. Campau said, the sale of new vehicles will gradually replace older vehicles in the almost 300 million-strong nationwide fleet of passenger vehicles, leading to a reduction in the average age and eventual price stabilization.

Meanwhile, auto repair shops are seeing increased business from people holding on to their rides for longer and beyond manufacturer warranties. Currently, nearly three-quarters of vehicles on the road are six or more years old.

Since those keeping hold of their vehicles for an extended period of time are generally more likely to follow manufacturer maintenance schedules and regular oil changes, Mr. Campau noted that this is proving to be good news for the auto repair industry.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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