Quality makes average age of American cars hit a record 11.4 years image

Even with new car sales increasing, the average American is keeping longer than ever its cars and trucks, and this trend will continue, an industry research company says.

Polk research firm gathered the latest figures from state registration data and concluded that average age of the 247 million cars and trucks on United States roads hit a record of 11.4 years in January, up from 11.2 years in 2012, and nearly two full years older than in 2007, before the Great Recession started.

According to Mark Seng, a Polk vice president, people keep their cars due to the quality being so much better and also to avoid the monthly payments incurred by a new acquisition. He also noted there is a drop of 50% in the annual percentage of cars and trucks sent to the scrap yard since the start of the recession.

The research firm foresees a continued trend for at least five years from now, although vehicle sales are running at an annual rate of around 15.5 million, which is near pre-recession levels. It even goes as far as predicting a rise in the percentage of cars age 12 or older. This change means a great opportunity for repair shops and auto-parts stores, Seng said. Customers from independent and chain repair shops should be paying close attention to their business plans and making concerted efforts to retain business among the do-it-for-me audience, while retailers have a unique and growing opportunity with potential consumers wrenching on their own vehicles,” he noted.