Unexpected COVID-19 effects: Older, better, dirtier … cars, trucks, RVs

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By James Raia
The average age of cars, trucks and RVs still on road will soon surpass 12 years — the highest level among American drivers in nearly two decades — according to industry analysts.

The current rate is 11.9 years, a slight increase from 2018, reports IHS Markit Ltd., the England-based global data company.

The average age of vehicles stil on the road wil soon surpass 12 years, like this 2008 Ford F-150
The average age cars, trucks and RVs still on the road will soon surpass 12 years, like this 2008 Ford F-150.

While vehicle longevity was increasing before the pandemic, the health crisis has resulted in further economic decision-making. As a result of keeping vehicles longer, emissions and safety issues increase, but parts manufacturers and repair companies could see an increase in business.

“We definitely expect to eclipse the 12-year barrier,” said Todd Campau, associate director of aftermarket solutions for IHS Markit. “People working from home could put fewer miles on vehicles, allowing them to last longer.”

The average age of cars and light trucks has been increasing steadily for nearly 20 years, reflecting rising prices for new vehicles and improved durability. It allows older vehicles to travel more miles with more owners before they are scrapped

The aging U.S. vehicle fleet has been an issue as U.S. lawmakers have debated economic stimulus plans. Proposals to provide government-funded incentives to retire older, more polluting vehicles, or encourage drivers to get new vehicles with more advanced safety technology have not proven popular.

Manufacturers of repair parts and vehicle repair shops should benefit from America’s aging and expanding vehicle fleet, IHS Markit forecast. The United States has more than 280 million vehicles on the road.

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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KellyR
2 months ago

If a vehicle treats me well, I keep it. My two cars are each 24 years old. Neither has cost me any more than normal maintenance – so far. Heck 1996 doesn’t seem THAT long ago does it? RV is only 7 years old. Got after I retired. It will probably outlast me. My 1971 Toyota Celica was with me for 43 years before it started costing rebuild money. A young kid has rebuilt inside and out and it is now in its second life.

wally
2 months ago

As a hard core car guy, I always want new vehicles, but, having said that, my tow vehicle is now 14 years old. Replacing that truck with today’s version, would cost in excess of $80,000! I know a new truck would have better ride and certainly not have the minor imperfections my truck has earned with time, but my 2500 Dodge with a Cummins has a lot of miles left in it and, for that amount of money, will do us just fine.

Magee Willis
2 months ago
Reply to  wally

2006 Dodge diesel coming up on 200,000 miles. I consider it just broken in. Never had any major problem; it runs as well as the day I bought it.

Doug
2 months ago

Given the automakers have all but abandoned the entry-level market (cars under $20-25K) and moved to much more expensive SUVs, it is no wonder. Many cars are now selling in the $50K+ range with monthly payments approaching $1,000 and for many, especially young people and retired senior citizens that is not affordable. So keep them longer or buy used are quickly becoming the only option for many.

Alvin
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug

Doug, you’re right but the message is incomplete. What about insurance, the cost of keeping a warranty up, maintenance that warranty does not cover or replacement of a tailight someone backed into while you were shopping, that falls under a $1000 dollar deductable. Lots to consider – which rarely is in the beauty of free coffee, donuts and newspaper in the showroom.

I worked for a General Motors dealership my entire working life. We had a truck in one time, a trade in that the buyer missed a “headlight” out on. To get that headlight operational, cost the company $1000. As unbelievable as that might sound it happened – 14 years ago.

Tom
2 months ago

Our current vehicles have proven to be both reliable and durable. See no real need to replace any of the fleet.
I admit that the new safety features are very tempting.

Alvin
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Tom in my area we are seeing 20 year old – plus- RV’s of every description & class, on the roads and advertised in the papers – some at crazy prices.

They are selling no question about it, witnessed by what we observe.

I’d like to think for the sake of everyone on our highways and by-ways those
dealers have worked overtime to get proper rubber, brakes,steering components etc, on this ancient equipment and they have reaped a windfall keeping everyone safe.