Cars on American Roads Keep Getting Older

Scott J. Ferrell | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

The average age of vehicles on U.S. roads has been rising for decades as cars grow ever more durable — and expensive.

The average age of a car on U.S. roads rose to 12.1 years in 2021, according to IHS Markit. The average age had been 11.9 years in 2020. In 2002, the average age was 9.6 years.

There was a time when drivers didn't expect to get more than 100,000 miles out of their cars at the most. These days, however, it is not unheard of for cars to last 200,000 or more.

Car shopping site iSeeCars publishes a list of the longest-lasting cars on the road. Recently, it found that 16% of the Toyota Land Cruisers on the road have at least 200,000 miles on them. Meanwhile, at least 2.5% of several other models — from car makers including Toyota, Honda and General Motors — also have at least 200,000 miles on their odometers.

Industry analysts say there is some concern that rising vehicle prices and improved durability might affect the frequency with which buyers seek new cars in the future. But as vehicle age has grown, so has the overall size of the American fleet.

A very rapid pace of technological change, such as improved performance, rising fuel mileage, electric powertrains and safety features, may be enough to keep consumers returning to dealerships.

Copyright CNBC
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