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Old Cars Are the New Normal

Written by Gary North on January 18, 2012

Americans are wising up. They are not buying replacement new cars. They are buying used cars.

I have done that ever since the 1970s.

The average age of American cars is 10.8 years. This is the highest since 1995, when it was about 8.4 years. Year by year, the average increases.

I still drive a 1993 Dodge minivan. Not too often, though. It was my car for hauling my dogs around. One died, and the other is too old to go on walks. I keep the car as a back-up, in case my car or my wife’s must go into the shop. It hasn’t happened yet.

The number of cars under warranty is now the lowest it’s been in the last 12 to 15 years, he said, and drivers whose cars aren’t under warranty tend not to go to the dealer.

It is obvious that the weak economy has changed drivers’ habits. They drive less. But car repairs and auto parts are booming.

A decrease in annual miles driven, tied to the struggling economy, has somewhat offset increased demand for car parts, said Mike Odell, chief executive of the Pep Boys (PBY) parts and service chain.

It will not be easy for the auto industry to change these habits. People are learning the truth: they don’t need a new car. The longer the weak economy lasts, the harder it will be to persuade buyers to spend $20,000+ on a new car.

Continue Reading on money.cnn.com

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2 thoughts on “Old Cars Are the New Normal

  1. Bill McCroskey says:

    Free advice from a retired new car dealer, this is a GREAT article, let someone else take that new to used depreciation hit. Don't fall for leasing scams either. Look for something that if it has a overhead cam or camshafts that is a NON-INTERFERENCE designed engine. If the timing belt or chain breaks or slips the valves CANNOT come in contact with the pistons causing MASSIVE damage and pretty much a fatal end to said engine if it is a N.I.E. Due your research with friends, trusted gearheads and the internet to determine other pitfalls other than the above noted engine caveat. To make myself clear look for a non-interference designed engine (simply google the year make, model and engine size i.e. 2006 Toyota Camry 3.0 liter non-interference) when google is back up.

  2. I think this is also a testament to the quality of cars built in the 1990s. Both my parents cars from the 90s were excellent and still run well (they were Japanese.) I see many cars from the 90s that still look good too. I don't remember 10 year old cars back in the 90s being anything like what is available today.