Question of the Day (Updated): What is the average age of a car on the road today?

Aug 16, 2020
Question of the Day, Purchase Decisions

Answer: Almost 12 years


  • What do you think goes into the decision to purchase a new car when you have a car that is working ok?
  • As cars age, what would you expect to happen with their maintenance costs?
  • What are the factors that you think determine the longevity of a car (i.e., how long a car can stay on the road)?
  • What are the pros/cons of owning the same car for 12 years?

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Behind the numbers (the Economist): The average age of cars on American roads has approached almost 12 years, and around a quarter are at least 16 years old, according to ihs Markit. That is the highest in two decades; in 2002 the average age was around 9.5 years. Improved mileage and better- built vehicles mean that motorists are more inclined to hang on to their Betsy, perhaps more so now that commuting times have dropped during the pandemic, so cars should last even longer. 


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About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.