Drivers keeping their older cars around longer, study shows

Local mechanic says he’s seen more people try to fix their cars than buy new ones

SAN ANTONIO – A study by S&P Global Mobility shows the average car on the road is more than 12 years old, and several factors are contributing to the trend that experts say will be around for a while.

Juan Manuel Salazar, owner of 911 Auto Mobile Repair, has been in business for 15 years. In recent years, he’s noticed a change in owners’ habits when fixing their cars.

“Before, they used to say, ‘It’s too much money to put into this car. It’s pretty old, so I want to trade it in for a new one.’ But lately, it’s the other way around,” Salazar said.

The change started during the COVID pandemic when new and used car prices shot up, and the vehicles were harder to find.

Todd Campau with S&P Global Mobility says the average vehicle in the U.S. is up to 12.5 years old.

“It’s one of the fastest increases we’ve seen since the Great Recession in 2008, 2009 timeframe,” Campau said.

He explained that the economy and how cars are made all factor into vehicles staying in service longer.

“The consuming public is just realizing that not only do we -- are we in a situation where we need to keep our vehicles on the road longer, but they are actually surviving OK. They’re still usable. They’re still safe,” Campau said.

The trend might stick around for a while, so Salazar says anyone who wants to keep their vehicles around longer should consider routine maintenance an investment.

“Treat it like a baby. It’ll last longer,” Salazar said.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.