Most Americans Will Hold On To Their Car Until It Dies. What About You?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Pretty soon, car salesmen will chase wreckers with the same fervor as lawyers chase ambulances. Finding a dead car might be their only chance to sell a new one. At least if a survey of nearly 4,000 car owners by is right. Three in four respondents agreed that buying a vehicle every two to three years is a thing of the past, and 78 percent now say that 10+ years (or until it dies) is the appropriate vehicle lifespan. Is that how you think?

Ah, you think it’s because of the bad economy? Over half say that a better economy would not change their habit of holding onto their vehicle for longer.

Drivers Keep Vehicles for Over 10 YearsOver 10 years78%8 – 10 years15%6 – 7 years4%3 – 5 years3%

The survey jibes with data that shows the hooptification of America. The average age of cars and light trucks currently in operation in the U.S. has increased to 10.8 years. The AutoMD study agrees: 60 percent of the survey’s respondents say their primary vehicle has over 100K miles on the clock.

And what about you? Do you live in Cuba or New Carlisle? Vote!

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Solracer Solracer on Jul 24, 2012

    I tend to fall into multiple categories. With my autocross car I tend to turn it over every 3-4 years though I am in year 5 with my Solstice which may or may not be replaced next season. Same thing for my 2011 Fiesta, if the ST ever gets here or if some hot hatch catches my eye I'll trade it in by the time it's 4 or 5 years old. However I've had my Miata for 23 years and my Corvair for 37 years so I do hold on to cars as well. In addition I have two old cars, a '22 Essex my dad bought 40 years ago and a '28 Franklin he bought way back in 1957 before I was even born.

  • Mike Mike on Jul 24, 2012

    Why do I get the feeling in response, manufacturers will just start building crappier cars, designed to become irreparable after a few years? Works like a charm for home appliance and electronics. Wife has an '02 Camry that has just received new suspension and drives like a brand new car. About 160k miles. I see it lasting another three or four years. The only thing wrong with my '07 Fit is that it's SO basic. I wish I had a little more comfort and luxury since I spend a couple of hours a day in it. The seats aren't all that comfortable, the stereo isn't all that great, it's somewhat underpowered to deal with the blast off then brakes nature of traffic here, and it's somewhat small to accommodate kids and accouterment on the rare occasional I'm tasked with taxiing. A new Focus looks awfully appealing. I bet I could get around $8k for the Fit and use the $6k we have in our car savings to pay for half a new ST, then pay off the other half in only a couple of years. But then I think about those two or three years of car payments and I balk. It just doesn't seem worth it, especially considering the Fit is such a strong commuter in most respects.

  • 84Cressida 84Cressida on Jul 25, 2012

    Totally depends on the car. My mom's 2006 BMW will NOT be here in 10 years, nor 5, and likely will be replaced no later than 12-15 months. My dad's 2007 Camry? Definitely. Our 1998 Avalon and my 1994 Hilux with 56,000 miles will also be here long term, but the Avalon could use a little TLC in the body and a new paint job, which we will likely do soon.

  • LittleMac LittleMac on Jul 12, 2013

    I just bought my 1992 Volvo 940... I figure that a modest new car will cost me between higher insurance and taxes, and then a car payment somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-6K per year easily. So that $2500 car which will need few repairs in the next couple of years is great sense since I can put 500 into every month and still break even, on top of that I really enjoy my old car more than I enjoyed my 6 year old xc70. Not too mention I could replace my engine in the 940 for the cost of almost any repair on the xc70. I figure that I should save close to 25k in the next five years if I can keep repairs under 5k. Not to mention my old ass volvo looks pretty classy in my opinion for a fraction of the cost.