Americans Continue to Keep Cars Longer

americans keep carsAmericans are keeping their vehicles longer despite an uptick in the average family income, according to federal data.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in an analysis published this month that the average age of household autos increased from 10.1 years about 11.3 years between 2007 and 2012, while the average household income rose from $63,091 per year to $65,596 during the same period.

The share of newer vehicles, or those less than 5 years old, dropped from 22 percent to 15 percent during that timeframe, while the proportion of older autos, or those manufactured at least 11 years ago, jumped from 34 percent to 42 percent.

The numbers, which come from the agency’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, suggest Americans started holding onto vehicles longer after the start of the recession but have not reversed that trend since their incomes started to rebound.

The BLS analysis highlighted other notable trends in U.S. auto ownership. For example, the average age of vehicles sold in 2012 was 15 years, while the average age of trade-ins was 9-years-old.

Additionally, the data show that the average annual cost of maintenance and repairs on a vehicle “pales in comparison to the cost of purchasing a new vehicle,” according to the report.

The average vehicle maintenance and repair costs in 2012 amounted to 1.6 percent of a household’s income, while the purchase price of a new automobile was 16 percent of income that year.


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