- Helping you drive happy

Average Age of Vehicles in Use in U.S. Hits New Record: 12.5 Years

This average has been rising steadily for the past six years Automotive columnist: , Updated:

•    The average age of vehicles on the road in the U.S. reaches a new record at 12.5 years.

•    The pandemic, supply chain crisis, new vehicle prices and interest rates can all be cited as causes.

•    It’s expected the average age of vehicles on the road will stabilize this year.

U.S. consumers are keeping their vehicles longer than ever. A new study by S&P Global Mobility Group concludes that the average age of personal vehicles in the U.S. has reached a new high of 12.5 years. 

That's up three months from last year. It’s also the sixth consecutive year the numbers show an increase in the average age of vehicles on the road. 

This is not a surprise and there are multiple factors. Covid 19 dampened new-car sales and it has also led to an ongoing global parts shortage and supply chain crisis. Concurrently, the prices of new vehicles have skyrocketed, as have interest rates. It's understandable that many owners are holding onto their vehicle longer than ever. 

We should also consider that vehicles are more reliable and durable than ever before, even if owners sometimes think otherwise. When a vehicle is working well, owners are in less of a hurry to switch.

The study doesn’t provide numbers for Canada, but there’s no reason to think the situation is much different here. In Canada, vehicles normally have slightly shorter life spans because of the climate, but the differences aren’t major, and the same factors leading to this vehicle-age trend apply here. 

Wintertime traffic
Wintertime traffic
Photo: D.Boshouwers

For a long time the average age of vehicles on the road was around eight years. But with purchases of new vehicles being delayed and the used-car market exploding as it has, that average has risen steadily. 

The study also found that there are more than 284 million vehicles on U.S. roads. 

Sales of new vehicles are expected to increase this year, and if so the average age of vehicles should stabilize in 2023 and begin to decline in 2024. Consider that many consumers have simply postponed their next car purchase. When they do buy new, it will have an effect on the average age of vehicles on the road.