The Definitive Guide to How Long People Keep Their Cars

How long do people keep cars?

Automotive research firm iSeeCars.com says car owners in the US keep their cars for an average of 8.4 years. New cars with the most prolonged average ownership age are primarily sports cars or SUVs, with sports cars accounting for five of the top 10 new cars that owners keep the longest, followed by SUVs. 

Many factors determine how long people keep their cars. For instance,  keeping an older car going is sometimes cheaper than making payments on a new one. Other times, life’s changes like having kids demand a bigger car, and longer commutes may require better road performers.

So, how long do people keep cars? This article breaks down the length of time the average Joe keeps a car by car type and brand.  

How Often Do People Change Their Cars?

The same iSeeCars research shows the following details about the length of time people keep their cars depending on the car type:

1. SUVs

SUVs typically spot a larger frame, giving you enough space to transport large luggage without dropping the back seats. They also carry more weight than the standard hatchback without being weighed down. 

They also handle collisions better than smaller cars making them safer, and modern SUVs come with hybrid and electric powertrains that stretch how far a fuel tank or battery recharge can get you. 

People keep their SUVs for 8.3 years on average, with full-size models edging out midsize models by a margin of six to four years –mainly because people use them as family cars, and they are more expensive to replace. 

The Toyota Land Cruiser takes the first spot in the list of ten top longest kept SUV models (11.4 years), followed by the Ford Expedition (10.1years) and Toyota 4Runner (10years). 

The bottom 3 SUVs are the Nissan Pathfinder, which scores 9.3 years, Lincoln Navigator 9.1 years, and Chevrolet Tahoe, which also scores 9.1 years. 

2. Passenger Cars

The most significant advantage of passenger cars is the voluminous space it offers –may be as big as 7 feet 6 inches wide, 18 feet long, and 6 feet 5 inches tall, and comfortably seats ten passengers. They are also great for carpooling and make the most dominant car type on the roads.

The longest kept passenger car is the Toyota Avalon, clocking an average of 9.7 years. The BM3W Series and Toyota Camry follow closely with 9.5 years each. The Ford Taurus takes the 5th spot with 9.4 years, while Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Mercedes-Benz S Class take the last three positions with 9.1, 9.0, and 8.9 years respectively. 

The BM3W Series is often the first car people buy when their status moves up and they want to use a luxury vehicle. Thus, they may want to see the value for their money by having it run for as long as possible. Together, passenger cars stay with their owners for an average of 8.4 years. 

3. Trucks

Trucks are work vehicles forcing their owners to want quality and longevity rather than style. The average truck score is better than other vehicles at 8.7 years. The famous Nissan Frontier, for example, stays with its owner for an average of 9.1 years. 

Other big scorers are the Toyota Tacoma with nine years, Nissan Titan at 8.9 years, and Toyota Tundra at 8.8 years. The Ram Pickup 1500 sits at number 5 with 8.7 years, followed by Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (8.6 years), GMC Sierra 1500 (8.5 years), and lastly, Ford F-150 (8.5 years)

How Long Do People Keep Different Car Brands?

When determining how long is a car kept or replaced by brand, here’s what another research found:

1. Lexus

People keep their Lexus for an average of 6.8 years. Lexus tend to be reliable, have a high resale value, and score high on safety and advanced technology to drive efficiency. Some Lexus owners keep it for up to ten years (28%), with 49% changing to a new car in half that time.

2. Toyota

It takes 7 years for the regular Toyota owner to change their car. And because Toyota also has some of the best resale values, 27% keep the vehicle for more than a decade, with 44% of them replacing it in less than 5 years.

3. Honda

Affordability, reliability and longevity make Honda one of the most loved brands in the USA. Honda owners keep them for a little over 7 years on average while 27% use them for over 10 years and 43% get a replacement in less than 5 years.

4. Subaru

Most Subaru owners hold on to their car for an average of 8.3 years, leveraging its reliability and safety features, and 42% keep it for more than a decade. On the other hand, 34% replace their Subarus after less than five years of using them.

5. Volvo

Volvo owners tend to keep their vehicles for about 9.0 years. Again, the Volvo brand is big on safety and reliability causing 48% of buyers to keep it for longer than 10 years with only 22% of them replacing it before the vehicle turns 5 years.

With auto loan terms extending as long as 72 months, people are prompted to choose a vehicle that can clock considerable mileage without looking old and worn. 

For people wondering how long to keep a car, a 200,000 mileage or more counts as a reliable vehicle. Here are some of the brands that can comfortably bear 200,000 miles and above according to Insider based on findings from iSeeCars.com:

6. Toyota

Toyota is best known for building strong, efficient, and reliable vehicles. Most Toyota vehicles perform well in consumer testing due to providing five factors that determine how long to keep a car: advanced powertrains, good fuel economy, comfy rides, peaceful cabins, and smart controls. 

At least 1.8% of Toyota models were sold with 200,000 mileage in 2019. 

7. Honda

Although Honda is Japanese, some Honda vehicles, like the Odyssey, are primed for American roads’ needs. The most notable attributes of Honda vehicles are the sleek look while offering comfort, reliability, and efficiency. 1.6% of Honda vehicles sold in 2019 had reached 200,000 miles. 

8. GMC

GMC focuses on utility and manufactures SUVs and light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks. The iSeeCars.com study found that 1.4% of GMC models sold in 2019 clocked 200,000 miles on the odometer. 

9. Chevrolet

Chevrolet is among the most versatile vehicle brands –spotting a vehicle for almost every use and lifestyle. Chevrolet sold the same percentage of cars (1.4%) with 200,000 miles on the odometer as GMC models. 

10. Ford

Ford has been on a going-green campaign for some years now. Ford has a knack for pursuing the latest car technology, which gives it a competitive edge over other brands. 1.1% of Ford models sold in 2019 had reached a 200,000 mileage. 

How to Navigate The 2021 Year-end New Car shortage

Instead of the usual stacked to the roof picture of car dealerships we’re used to at the end of the year, the pandemic introduced a chip shortage that caused a significant decrease in inventory at many dealerships.  Many barely have enough to sell or customers to sell to. If you intend to buy during this shortage, you may pay almost what the price tag says if not more.

However, you can still get a fair price with these tips:

Don’t Rush

Unless you must get a car by the end of 2021, wait it out for the chance to get exactly what you want in the new year but at much better prices.

Shop Around

Consider getting a car from another brand. Some brands are better at finding their way and keeping their inventory decent during the shortage.

Sell Your Current Car

You don’t have to wait for your lease term to end if you have a new car you can sell. Selling it early will free you from the lease so you can look for more options.

How To Navigate The Model Year Turnover Affected By The 2021 New Car Shortage

Experts project that the chip shortage will cost the car industry $210billion in losses as demand continues to rise and the supply of most models continues to fall. This shortage also affects how long to keep a car. If you want to buy or lease a new car, consider these tips to navigate the car shortage dilemma:

Be Flexible

Chances are you won’t get the exact model and color of the car you want. An expert car dealer can help you choose other options that’ll serve you just as well as your first choice.

Reserve the Model You Want

You can book a car you want in the incoming inventory. Remember that the shortage may change that forcing you to compromise on some features but it’s better than nothing and you may discover the new model meets your needs better.

Find a Dealer that Can Get You Exactly What You Want

Some dealers can help you get just what you want if you know where to look. These include well-established dealerships or car brokers with extensive experience. 

Final Word

As these statistics reveal, the most satisfying answer to how long does people keep cars is an average of 5 years. Factors such as comfort and style are also important, but the primary determining factor is quality because it promises a longer tenure.

Plus, a vehicle that stays in top shape for longer can help you get more value for money. Whether you want a stellar road performer, a car built for longevity, or a cozy interior, you can get it from Autoswiftly.  The best thing about us is we get the car much sooner than you would with dealers and at much lower prices. Let’s help you get your dream car. Apply now.

Recommended reading: The No. 1 Guide to Leasing or Buying a Car Online With AutoSwiftly

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