New Study Shows That We're Keeping Cars Longer

July 7, 2011

Sales of luxury brands like Audi and BMW may be up, but those of us Americans not in the “luxury car” tax bracket are keeping our cars longer, according to a recent study by AutoMD.

Their survey asked over 3,000 participants questions relating to the anticipated lifespan of their current car versus previous cars, how many more miles they expect to get from their current ride and, if applicable, why they’re shopping for a new car in 2011.

The results should surprise no one, and seem to indicate that most Americans aren’t feeling any economic recovery just yet. In fact, most seem to be putting off spending money unless it’s absolutely necessary, which doesn’t bode well for sales of high profit car dealer add-ons, like extended warranties.

The survey showed that:

Car Owners Expect Their Current Vehicle To Last Longer Than Previous Ones

Mileage versus Last Car

Mileage versus Last Car


Over 67 percent of those surveyed plan on keeping their current vehicle for more than 50,000 miles beyond their last vehicle, and only 9.4 percent expected to drive their current ride for fewer miles than their last one.



Over Half Expect To Drive Their Car Until It Dies


How many more miles will you keep your car

How many more miles will you keep your car


The trend of upgrading to a new car every few years appears to be over, as over 55 percent of respondents expect to drive their current car until it dies. Another 25.7 percent expect to add at least another 100,000 miles to the clock before giving up their present vehicle.


Cost Savings, Economy Driving Vehicle Retention

Compared to 2010, 20 percent more respondents in 2011 cite the economy or cost savings as the reason they’re holding onto vehicles longer


Few Plan To Buy New Cars Unless Absolutely Necessary


Reasons for buying new

Reasons for buying new

Forty-five percent of respondents who are buying cars in 2011 are doing so because their current vehicle is end-of-life. Much to the dismay of manufacturers, only 19.6 percent are car shopping because of new models on the market, and only 8.8 percent are shopping because of low interest rates. Most telling, perhaps, is that only 5.7 percent of respondents are car shopping because of confidence in the economic recovery.

If there’s good news to be had in the survey, it may be for the future of independent repair shops. Nearly half of new-vehicle buyers won’t opt for an extended warranty, with most citing the cost of service contracts as their primary objection. When repairs are needed outside of warranty, most plan on taking their cars to an independent mechanic rather than back to the dealership. A surprising number (26 percent) plan on repairing the vehicle themselves, something that is considerably more challenging in 2011 (and beyond) than in decades past.

Cars are lasting longer than ever before, and Americans are scrapping more cars than we’re buying. That may not make automakers happy (which explains why the Chinese market is so important), but it  should keep mechanics and auto parts stores in business for the foreseeable future.



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