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The average car is now over 12 years old — that's a problem if you're in the market for a used vehicle

Cars on Manhattan's Upper East Side give way for a street sweeper before returning to their parking spaces in New York City, USA, 21 December 2016.
Drivers are holding onto their cars for longer and longer.Chris Melzer/Getty Images
  • For the sixth year in a row, the average age of cars in the US increased.

  • Drivers are holding onto their cars for an average of 12.5 years.

  • That means your service waits could get longer — and good, used cars will be hard to find.

Drivers are holding onto their cars for longer and longer — and that will impact buyers in the service department and at the used car lot.

The average age of a vehicle on the road hit 12-and-a-half years, according to a recent analysis from S&P Global Mobility. That's up more than three months from 2022's average and marks the sixth year in a row that the average age of the vehicles on US roads — more than 284 million cars — has increased.

Following the impact of the pandemic on the car-buying market, new vehicles remain expensive, with the average listing price of one at $47,409 last month, per Cox Automotive, as automakers prioritize profits over market share and capitalize on consumers' mad dash to get their hands on any vehicle available.

The state of inventory for both new and used cars has been completely upended, and wait times for new cars are long (disincentivizing people to get rid of their current vehicles). Coupled with economic headwinds and skyrocketing interest rates, some have decided to simply keep what they have while they wait for better deals.

How does the average car age impact consumers?

But the older cars get, the more service and maintenance they'll likely need — a potential boon for the auto repair business.

Aftermarket operations are poised to cash in as drivers invest more to keep their aging vehicles on the roads, according to S&P Global Mobility.

This could create a supply-and-demand issue. If more and more drivers need vehicle fixes, that could mean wait times for work go up, with prices following.

What this means for the used car market

Buyers in the market for a used vehicle are also in trouble.

The longer vehicle owners hold onto their cars (combined with more and more people buying out their leases instead of returning them), the fewer cars that make their way to the used vehicle market.

That impacts supply and demand — and keeps the cost of used vehicles up. The average used car was listed for $26,799 in April, according to Cox Automotive, stabilizing a bit but still substantially up from pre-pandemic.

Once those older vehicles do make their way to the used market, buyers will be choosing from an older fleet with higher mileage, as opposed to a more middle-aged fleet with a reasonable number of miles.

Have you been holding on to your vehicle for some time? Contact this reporter at astjohn@insider.com with a photo and your information, and we might reach out to you.

Read the original article on Business Insider