Family Fleet: Average Car Age is 11.4 Years Says Polk

Family Fleet: Average Car Age is 11.4 Years Says Polk
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    While consumers continue to flock to new car dealer showrooms to view and purchase new vehicles, the average age of cars on the road continues to increase.


Americans are keeping their cars longer says Polk.

A Polk study released earlier this month pegged that age at 11.4 years, an all time high. Polk data is based on the 247 million cars and light duty trucks registered in the United States.

Registrations Snapshot

The latest numbers are based on vehicle registrations as of Jan. 1 each year, reflecting a snapshot for that date only. Thus, there is likely some change since then, information that won’t be assembled, analyzed and reported for another year.

The Polk study was first conducted in 2002. As always, Polk records passenger vehicle and light duty trucks separately and also offers an average for all vehicles as part of its “total light vehicles” tally. In 2002, the average age of passenger cars was 9.8 years; for light trucks it was 9.4 years. The average for all vehicles was 9.6 years.

Notably, the average has increased unabated year over year, except for 2004 and 2005 when there was no change. Earlier annual increases of 0.1 years eventually gave way to fleet averages of 0.3 years as the recession kicked in and the recovery lagged. This year’s figure reflects a gain of 0.2 years, the slowest rise in five years. Still, the upward fleet average continues despite consumers buying cars at a rate last seen in 2008.

Fleet Facts

Polk found that the volume of vehicles aged 6 to 11 years old is falling while those vehicles that are at least 12 years old is on the rise. Polk noted that the increase on the upper end is something that aftermarket parts suppliers would be particularly interested in as older cars generally need more repairs. Both the “do-it-for-me” (garages) and “do-it-yourself” (retailers) can gain from the older inventory.

Besides analyzing the current national fleet, Polk has been projecting where it expects these numbers to be several years out. For 2018, Polk predicts that the current fleet will grow by five percent, with 260 million registered vehicles. Polk expects the pool of six to 11 year old cars to shrink by more than 20 percent while the pool of vehicles aged 12 and over should increase by 11.6 percent. Again, this data is just as important to repair shops and aftermarket providers as it is to consumers, as all parties will look for ways to benefit from the aging fleet.

Consumer Considerations

For consumers, continuing to drive older vehicles can save them money on car insurance, taxes and other car costs. Even if you budget $1,500 to $2,000 per year for repairs and maintenance, that amount can come in significantly less than the $3,000 or more you might pay for annually for car payments. Work with your mechanic to follow a repair schedule that aligns with the manufacturer’s guidelines to keep your car functioning for years to come.

See Also Simple and Effective Ways to Keep Your Car’s Value High


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Categories: Autos Express

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".