July 29, 2012

"The average car on the road is 11 years old, the highest figure ever recorded."

"[B]esides the economic reasons to hang onto cars longer... today’s drivers are more comfortable driving cars into the ground because today’s technology allows them to do so without too many worries...."


madAsHell said...

Dating myself, but....

When I first started driving, you got rid of a car at 50,000 miles. That was the time when the maintenance costs started rising.

Today, I can easily get 100,000 miles out of a car, and with very little maintenance. There are no more points, and condenser to swap out. I haven't used my timing light in 15 years.

The rubber (tires, belts, hoses) lasts much longer too.

edutcher said...

The Blonde drives a car until it falls apart.

Given some of her adventures, that takes less time than one might think.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

So what if the standard of living for Americans is declining, we have health care you dopes!

Inflate your tires and vote Obama!

Roux said...

I have 200K miles on my Silverado and I'll probably just keep it as long as I can. The newer vehicles have a lot of gadgets that'll just break. Also, with more stringent emission controls the older cars run better.

If we could just get ethanol out of our gasoline we'd all be better off.

Unknown said...

An older car that has 50% of its lifespan in miles left on it for less than 20¢ on the original dollar is persuasive. No financing cost, little capital tied up, cheaper insurance, and virtually no depreciation. I can spend generously on repairs with my local mechanic and still come out way ahead on a per-mile basis. Granted, I'm in the sunbelt where winter does not shorten the life span of the body. Simply budget in a stereo upgrade and the likelihood of a timing belt service and new shocks to restore the original ride.

I mount my android phone on the dash, and voila, internet radio and GPS in car from the last millennium!

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Average age of our cars: 13 years

mikee said...

I drive an 11 year old Chevy Silverado with 276,000+, mostly highway, well-maintained miles on it. Until this summer, the largest maintenance/repair items on it were brake rotors (2x) and tires (4x). Recently the differential and transmission needed work. I paid to have it done, because I know the truck is now good, after these repairs, for more tens of thousands of miles.

The reason I keep driving it is it keeeps going.

My first car was an AMC Gremlin rustbucket handed down to me when my older sister went away to college. Every time I put the key in the ignition was a roll of the dice on starting, moving, and living through the ride.

Perhaps technological advances in durability have occurred in the last several decades, along with increased gas mileage?

leslyn said...

Unknown! That was my Dad's formula for buying cars! It works, too.

I used it until last week. Then I traded in my two used 60,000 mile cars for one with a 10 year 100k warranty. I intend to keep the car for the next ten years (I put on about 10k/year) and want someone else to worry about and pay for repairs. Routine maintenance is easy.

Dad's formula--it served me well for many years. This is my first new-new car ever.

Hagar said...

Communications majors know about and understand motor vehicles like they do firearms.

In the old days of "hand-made" cars,50-60,000 miles was about it before the things started to fall apart and maintenance became a hassle.
Today, the manufacturing is computer controlled and uses much better materials. Change your oil regularly and replace your belts, etc. as the manual calls for, and it is more a question of when you get tired of driving the same old beastie.

Meade said...


MadisonMan said...

We have one car, an '04, with 135K miles on it. We'll drive it 'til it dies.

My parents got a car every 3 years when I was growing up. That's about how long those old Dodges lasted.

sydney said...

My car is thirteen years old. I plan to drive it until it dies. Then I will replace it with a used car if I can. I just need it to get me to and from the hospital for rounds. If we take a long trip, we rent a more reliable car. This is what we used to do when we were young and had lots of education loans to repay. Now we have three kids in college and the consequences of Obamacare to worry about. We have gone back to our early frugal ways.

Dante said...

There may be many reasons for this. A contributing factor may be young people not getting jobs, and buying "Their first car."

Another reason may be the Baby Boomer lump trying to save money for retirement, or trying to live less conspicuously.

People may also not be driving as much, or as hard, since so many people are out of work.

As someone pointed out, cars are probably better built than they used to be.

People have less money.

It's time for the government to get involved, and start providing incentives to buy up, like cash for clunkers. And oh yes, "Green" cars.

Christy said...

My Olds with 188k miles on it has been at the mechanic's for a while waiting on a new motor. He tells me high scrap metal prices means motors are getting melted down rather than recycled or rebuilt.

I've always kept cars until my mechanic has begged me to get rid of them. This new mechanic is just being too polite.

Christy said...

I do feel guilty driving an ancient Fleetwood right now that gets 17.8 mpg, I just hate, hate, hate to go car shopping. And it is a very comfortable car....

Paul said...

I have a '96 Lexus ES300 that still runs and looks new with 180k miles on it. It's so comfortable and quick, with a huge trunk for carrying and concealing my musical equipment, I can't justify replacing it. It's had very few problems and been one of the cheapest cars to maintain I've ever had. It still holds up style-wise too. I get complimented on its appearance all the time and people can't believe it's 16 years old.

Pastafarian said...

The fact that cars are older than ever despite the broken-window fallacy stupidity of cash for clunkers is really amazing.

Cars (and many other complex mechanisms) are better now than ever before because of almost universal adoption of ISO standards in manufacturing; improvements in CAD and physical simulation; advances in surface finishes, measurement, tribology, etc.

Combine this with the fact that few people can afford to get a new car in the Obamaconomy, and you get this horror show for auto manufacturers. My Accord is four years old and I'm sick of the damned thing. You can just tell it will run forever.

Lyssa said...

My 2005 Mustang has 123K miles on it, and I think that it's been to the shop twice. It has a few easily worked around problems (the speedometer and oil pressure gauge don't work, which I can live with, and I can't work the emergency break (stronger fellows can, so no one believes me when I claim there's something wrong with it), but as long as I leave it in gear, it's fine. I'm sure those all could be fixed, but why spend the money?

If I'm not still driving it well into the 2020's, I'll be extremely disapointed.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Our newest vehicle is 12 years old. 2000 Blazer. Every other vehicle is much MUCH older. 67 chevy stepside p/u with v-8 crate motor, 700R4 trannie and many other upgrades (a sweet hot rod!)--- 72 K5 Blazer-- Business use vehicles 72 GMC diesel 4x4 p/u---72 chevy service utility body truck---and two other mid 70's trucks for business purposes including a hydraulic boom truck.

Each vehicle is easy to repair. No computerized components to fail. Cheap to insure and to register. Easy to upgrade if we want with new engines and trannies. The cost of a new paint job and upgraded power train and chassie you have a "new restored" vehicle at less than 1/4 of the cost of a newer car. Throw in some new upholstery or upgraded bucket seats/console combos. In addition, our cars are not made out of cheap plastic crap that crumples up and falls off of the vehicle.

Why on earth would we want to buy a new 40K truck?

Plus, when we go on an extended trip, we rent a highway cruiser and put the mileage and maintenance on the rental company.

rhhardin said...

I'd get a new car if I had a use for it. I can't justify it at 500 miles a year.

Maybe if they put hefty inverters in them so they could power the house when the power goes out.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If you are feeling guilty about driving a gas guzzler instead of a green weenie vehicle.....just think of it this way.

Your carbon footprint on the old vehicle has been paid off many years ago. The carbon footprint to make a new care is much higher than just driving an older used vehicle....even if you are getting crappy gas mileage.

See. You are saving the earth by recycling and using an old vehicle.


Michael said...

If you have really crappy credit you can qualify for a sub prime car loan from GM. Sub prime. Where have i heard those words?

GM is having trouble keeping up with other car companies and has decided that poor people who are sketchy in the matter of bill paying might be an untapped buyer source.

Cars. Houses. Sub prime.

Joe Schmoe said...

I also hate paying the higher excise taxes and insurance rates that go with a new car purchase. So you can blame the government for me not buying new cars more frequently.

The Crack Emcee said...

I drive a 20-year old pick-up, with 170,000+ miles, and plan on keeping it until around 300,000. And why not? It runs, it's paid for, and - except for improved gas mileage - there's nothing a new vehicle can offer me.

People laughed when I got it (very religious, that - Mormons are big on looking down at those not attempting to appear stereotypically "prosperous") but my thoughts have always been geared towards the practical over displays of vanity - looking at a car this way:

1) Engine

2) Interior

3) Exterior

Which is TOTALLY the opposite of my cultish neighbors. One of my friends has 8 kids he needs to move around in a huge Dodge van. Between the kids, the van, his wife's many insane keeping-up-with-the-Jones' desires and wants, and that gigantic house (with it's equally gigantic mortgage) to cover, we guys figure our friend will be dead before he turns 50.

I'll be driving the same truck to his funeral,...

bagoh20 said...

I just like a new truck. The improvements, the smell, the nice tight feel, and the quiet. I usually buy one that is last year's model with zero or low miles to get a deal, but I change it about every 70K miles. That's when they start feeling and sounding loose.

Bruce Hayden said...

If you have really crappy credit you can qualify for a sub prime car loan from GM. Sub prime. Where have i heard those words?

GM is having trouble keeping up with other car companies and has decided that poor people who are sketchy in the matter of bill paying might be an untapped buyer source.

This is what happens when you use taxpayer money to bail out companies (and, in this case, a union and its pensions and benefits).

What could go wrong? This is, after all, Government Motors, and I am sure that they figure their sponsor can just print more money if these loans go bad.

But, I think that highly unlikely if Romney is elected. $35 or so billion loss to support the UAW and its pensions and benefits was way too much, and that money is mostly down the drain, and, esp. with the Obama Administration at the helm, guaranteeing continued losses. If the next time they go into bankruptcy, and a Dem is not in the White House, I expect to see a real reorganization, with the unions getting creamed this time. They should have shared in the pain last time, and didn't, and so the company is still in trouble - maybe more now that it has shown that it can't make it without government help and is willing to shaft preferred creditors in reorganizing.

bagoh20 said...

The way I see it: somebody gets my used truck and it's perfect for them and their budget, I get a newer one that's perfect for me, and demand for one more truck employs someone. Everybody wins.

MadisonMan said...

Plus, when we go on an extended trip, we rent a highway cruiser and put the mileage and maintenance on the rental company.

Same. I'm driving to PA next month to do some Dad-minding, and am leaving our one car behind with my wife. I'll get a rental, and try not to abuse it too much.

Bruce Hayden said...

I have never understood the allure of new cars, unless you have money to burn. If you are Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, then sure, buy a new car. I have bought two in my life, the last over 25 years ago. This just isn't a place where I want to spend my money. They are a luxury, and one that I have little interest in paying for.

My newest vehicle is a 2005 Chevy Tahoe that I bought with maybe 45k miles, and now am nearing 75k. The loss in value for that two years and 30k miles is maybe $3k. Replaced a windshield this last week from rock damage. Free. And, traded out the low profile, high speed, tires it came with last fall, and all of a sudden, the ride improved and it didn't get stuck in 4 inches of snow any more. And, that has been it. Nothing on the horizon either. Will probably have the oil changed and tires rotated today, in preparation for a thousand or two miles over the next week or two.

Other two vehicles are high millage, but low usage. 95 GMC Suburban K2500 (biggest one they built) has about 250k miles and some problems. Starter needs to be replaced. But, it will still tow my other two vehicles, if necessary. And, a 2006 Audi Quattro A6 with similar miles - I expect to replace it this next year with maybe a 5 year old Audi Quattro, as they are much better around big cities than my two large SUVs. The Tahoe gets maybe 10 mpg in the city, and, I am not kidding, 25 mpg in the 60 mph range on the highway. Recently did 300 miles between Durango and Dillon, CO, over 5 mountain passes, on 10 or so gallons of gas. And, surprisingly, I got almost 20 mpg with the Suburban driving from Tahoe to Dillon two years ago, despite having 250k miles on the 7.4 liter engine.

Peter said...

Cars today are much more durable than those of past decades, with one huge exception: their ability to be repaired after suffering body damage. I live not too far from several large commercial junkyards and it's a common sight to see flatbed trucks carrying "wrecked" cars to the junkyards. "Wrecked" is in quotes because many of these cars are barely damaged. Unfortunately, we are in a throwaway society where no one bothers repairing damaged cars any longer. It's a true obscenity, and an enormous waste of resources. I really wish the government would force things to change and require that lightly damaged cars be repaired rather than junked.

rick said...

2000 Lexus RX300 with 235K miles.
2002 Acura MDX with 108K miles.
1966 Corvette with 82K miles.

Will keep them all 'til the wheels fall off .... except for the Vette. I will put those wheels back on.

JohnBoy said...

Bought the 2011 Explorer for my wife. Despite a few glitches with the Sync system (fixed with March 2012 upgrade), we freaking love that car, especially the fully-loaded, tricked out electronic/nav/satellite package.

I wrecked my ancient Lexus and am driving my son's, stripped down 2007 Highlander. Feels like a different epoch. Thinking about getting a newish Edge.

Rabel said...

Cars do last longer.

Also, aerodynamic design has muted the year to year changes in appearance. It's tough to determine a car's age based on styling. Status still matters.

Shanna said...

My car is a 2003 model. I really would a new one...actually it doesn't have to be new so much as different. I want to be higher up and have a little more room and I have gotten to a point where it is kind of louder than I like on the highway. I just got a tune up and it hasn't really fixed it. (I also want XM, but that's a stupid reason to buy a car).

But it runs fine and I like having no car payment. It's still under 80k miles.

When I break down in a few years, I will probably buy a new to me used car.

J Lee said...

Mine's an '06 Mercury Mariner which will turn 7-years-old next month and just went on a 5,000 mile vacation drive after going over the 200,000 mile barrier. Pretty much just regular maintenance, other than using the higher-priced synthetic oil, and no problems other than a couple of blown fuses and the mule deer that ran out in front of the SUV a couple of years ago.

Part of the low maintenance concerns is because the mileage has mostly been highway driving (out in the West Texas land of the 80 mph legal speed limit). But given the gaps between available services out here, especially at night, having a reliable vehicle is important, so when it gets to the point that the Mariner does start making me guess if something new is going o wear out it will get traded in (though obviously not for another Mercury, though the Mariner, Ford Escort and the Mazda Tribute are the same basic small SUV).

chuckR said...

Then - points, condenser, distributor, leaded gas to crap up to valve train, ungalvanized steel bodies
Now - coil packs, ECU that catches the worst of your deferred maintenance issues, galvanized bodies, powerful and reliable disk brakes in place of drums

Also the internet where by going to the Audi forums, I've done a lot of small maintenance jobs myself. By internet, I spent $300 on filters, coil packs, ignition control module, and a temp sender - stealership cost well over $1100. No wonder they are always suggesting that the muffler bearings need lubing....

rick said...

My new car purchases are behind. A 2-4 year old car is the answer. Let the original owner pay the big depreciation $$. And I never buy from a dealer. Search the publications for a highly rated car, check the ads for private owners, size up the owner's integrity, ask if it's been wrecked, engineer a deal.

rick said...

My new car purchases are behind "me".

Unknown said...

Jeep thing. I like it not less than something earnestly approaching "a lot."

lewsar said...

the newest car we have is from the 98 model year: a volvo and and an audi. we also have a pair of 95s: a pathfinder and a gmc k1500 pickup truck. and then there's my 84 911.

all have well over 100,000 miles. all have a lot of life left.

the 84 is by far the easiest to work on, with minimal electronics. as the cars age, the plastic in the connectors gets stiff and the connectors fill up with grit and pebbles. this makes them very hard indeed, sometimes, to get them to disconnect. and there are literally hundreds of connectors in a modern car.

i do most of the maintenance myself, and right now they are breaking faster than i can fix them :(

Michael Haz said...

My daily driver is a Honda that has been driven (by me) nearly 250,000 miles. It is in good condition and the engine burns less that one-half quart of oil between oil changes.

I plan to keep it in service until at least 300,000 miles, and hopefully much longer.

What I do: Oil and oil filter change every 7,500 miles using Mobil 1 synthetic oil.

Change air and fuel filters every 50,000 miles.

Fix stuff, even minor stuff, when it breaks.

Don't abuse the car.

Every 100,000 miles: New cam belt, water pump, brakes, rotors, shocks and struts, all fluids, front-end alignment, spark plugs and spark plug wires. It costs about $2K for everything, but then the car is good to go another 100,000 miles, so it's money well spent.

My previous car was a Suburban that I sold at 328,000 miles. The engine hand transmission were original and had never been taken apart for repair. I sold i only because it didn't fit well in the smaller garage of a different home I had moved into.

I happily beyond the phase in life where I borrowed money to buy cars I didn't need in order to impress people I didn't know.

Wally Kalbacken said...

I can still recall the first time I saw a new car and recognized it as a new car, a new design just hitting the market. It was a
1965 Chevrolet Impala SS
, and I noticed it as it passed the driveway of my parents house in what had to be about October of 1964. The slope of the rear fascia and the three circular tail lamp housings jutting out of the fascia caught my eye.

My 2004 Acura has 86K on it and runs phenomenally, a perfectly reliable, fast (RSX-S), fun drive. Not suitable for a drive to Atlanta (very hard seats, relatively high noise level at speed, in spite of excellent fuel economy - 33mpg all day long at 80 mph in 6th gear.)

At around 80K I had mistakenly assumed it was going to need a timing belt replacement and I took it to a Honda/Acura specialist who laughed in my face. He informed me that this was the only Honda engine with a timing chain, good for at least 150K miles.

The only thing on the horizon is a tune up (the first required) at 115K miles. I hear it is a tad expensive, so I may be trading this car when it gets to 110K, by which time it will be 11 years old.

My wife has a 2012 with all the current integration of communication, navigation, etc., etc., etc. It is impressive and I realize there was a watershed somewhere between 2004 and 2012, and my car is on the far side of it in terms of electronics. Heck, my car has a cassette player in the dash. Never been used.

Whatever I get next will be purchased for long haul economy - and so I am watching the diesel VW and Audi offerings. But this current vehicle is so good that I don't feel compelled in the least bit to drive something newer.

ken in sc said...

When I was a teenager, a 100,000 mile car was a junker. If anyone bought one it was as a hobby; to rebuild the engine, carburetor, transmission, brakes, bearings, upholstery, paint job and more. Or for parts. Today, for a good price, I would not hesitate to buy a 100,000 mile car.

Also, I no longer borrow money to buy cars. For a daily driver, I buy a three year-old car and pay cash, and keep it until it is ten years old. I usually donate them to charity at that point.

ken in sc said...

When I want a newer car, I go to a local used car dealer who has a good reputation, and tell him what I want and what I am willing to pay for it. I ask him to go to the dealer auctions and find what I want. If he does that, he earns a reasonable profit. I learned this from my step-father who owned a car lot. It works for me. He's not selling me a car. He's working for me on commission.

Alex said...

New cars these days are designed to go 500K miles with proper maintenance. it's amazing.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The introduction of A/C in the 1960s and 1970s was the last game-changing auto innovation.

It may be the plug-in hybrids will be the next wave.

Michael Haz said...

The most recent game-changing innovation was the introduction and perfection of the ECU - the engine control unit - a very high-tech computer that monitors all aspects of an engine's fuel, ignition, air intake and exhaust output thousands of times per second.

The ECU is why we have great high-horsepower engines that also get great fuel mileage. It's why modern engines and transmissions work so well together. It's why the ABS systems work, and the anti-skid systems as well. It's why modern cars have fuel injection rather than carburetors.

It's also why routine tune-ups every 10,000 miles have become a thing of the past.

Indigo Red said...

@Wally Kalbacken -- My 6th grade teacher drove a 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS back in 1966. It was her first car after becoming a teacher in '63. She's retired now and her husband has a Lexus. I saw her at the supermarket a few months ago and she still drives the Impala.

I bought my car new in 2004. It was at a fortuitous time because I had a job and tens of thousands of dollars in credit with lots of offers of 12 month credit at 0% interest and no transfer fees. As soon as I could I moved the entire car loan to a credit card. When that card's offer expired, I moved the remainder to another. I paid the car off in two and a half years and paid only a few months in interest. My usual car care is oil change, fluid check, and tire rotation and it has only 50,300 miles on it. I've no reason to buy a new car.

Dante said...

I realize this will probably be lost, but: "
Your carbon footprint on the old vehicle has been paid off many years ago. The carbon footprint to make a new care is much higher than just driving an older used vehicle....even if you are getting crappy gas mileage."

Consider that you are keeping people employed, driving to work, and all that. Really bad on the carbon footprint side of things.

Why, given the profligate consumption of Americans, that we import so many new ones, is beyond me. One of the many fascinating incongruities of leftist hate America.

BigFire said...

My previous car was a hand me down 1992 Toyota Camry wagon. I finally have to get rid of it since the frame sealant is gone, and I get accumulation of rain water whenever it rains. It has 165K milage when I finally replace it with a new '05 Prius. Still driving the Prius, now on its 116K.

Gene said...

The United States is becoming the new Cuba, driving old Detroit iron for 40 or 50 years.

EMD said...

I have never understood the allure of new cars, unless you have money to burn.

We just bought a 2012 Ford Explorer with 20k on it. Got it for at least 12 grand less than sticker. The thing is practically new. It gets great highway mileage but is lousy around town.

It's my first Ford. So far, so good.

I wanted a used Land Rover LR4, but I couldn't get the right deal and I thought it would be more expensive to maintain.

The only upside to buying new is if you can get 0% financing -- if you are financing.

I had to replace a 2005 Mazda MPV, which was starting to go through rotors too fast to keep it around. It had 125k on it at trade-in time.

Unknown said...

Heh. That reminds me of the line from Armageddon when Billy Bob's character is describing the Russian space station the shuttles will hook up to for fuel. Something along the lines of 'That station is 11 yrs old. Most of us don't drive cars that old.'

We should really all have flying cars by now, shouldn't we? Damn futurists...setting us up for disappointment.

Rob said...

The occasional smacking of a donkey between the fetters is not likely to cause much malfeasance on the part of an incoherent, south-east Malaysian hound-dog, but on the other hound who want to take a chance on a transmission failing on a 100,000 mile old car? Replace it before it fails, my friends!