Average Age of Automobiles in the US


Inspired by Buzzcut's comment on Steve Verdon post on smog, I would like to look at the mean age of autos in the US, and the median age of autos in the US. Since the mean is persistently greater than the median (as expected), the distribution is persistently skewed towards older cars. Is this distribution becoming less skewed over time?

Mean and Median Age of Automobiles and Trucks in Use, 1970-2003


Up to 2000, it doesn't look like many of the oldest cars are dropping from the sample. The mean and median of the distribution are just shifting out. Increased durability lowering the scrapping rate is to blame for the average increase...


I don't know where that blank space is coming from...

Yeah, sorry, I just don't believe the data.

9 years old is the mean?!?

The mean?


Maybe I am relying on too much anectdotal info, but it just does not seem realistic to me. I am a gearhead (I KNOW cars), and I just don't see many junkers out there. I see so many new cars that there would have to be tons of junkers out there to bring the mean back to 9.

Just out of curiousity, how would antiques and collectible cars effect the mean? How many 70 year old cars does it take to offset 1 new one to make the mean 9?

Uh, buzz, it takes 1/4 of a 70-year old car to average out to 9 with a brand new car....

Just to make trouble, what about the comany which is now stamping out, minus drivetrain, 1970s Camaros into which hot rodders install new crate motors and rebuilt transmissions?

Still, a median of 8.6 years is pretty surprising. Of course, I drive a 1993 Cadillac, so maybe I shouldn't be so surprised... :P

'70s Camaros?!? Come on, man, you HAVE to provide a link for that!

I wonder how one goes about registering such a vehicle?

Low volume automakers can get emissions waivers. The current model year Lotus does not meet US emissions standards, for example. Lotus has promised the Feds that their next iteration will meet US standards. The Feds figure that a few hundred sports cars won't make a difference one way or the other.

My current cars are: 1. 1993 Dodge Caravan 2. 1993 Ford Escort 3. 1972 Ford Maverick I don't really care about all of these hotsot new "Green" cars. By the time I can afford them, I will be too old to drive. When I was young my family bought a new car every 2 years. With trade-in the cost wasn't much (my parents never had a car loan). Then we changed 1. Safety standards 2. Emission standards and 3. Mileage standards. When my parents died their cars had gone from an average age of 2 years to 12 years. At the same time, Colorado (the state they lived in) dropped its Safety Inspection in favor of federally mandated Emission Testing. Car wrecks jumped. No longer do we care if a car has decent brakes, tires, shocks or windshields, only emission output matters. Who cares how many unsafe cars are on the road? At the same time the average age of cars rose. People cannot afford the price of new cars that fit the new federal laws. Which would you rather have? New safer cars with airbags (that you can't afford) and an average age of 9 years on the road, or, dump the stupid laws and go back to having the average age of a car on the rad around 4-5 years? Oh yeah, drop the price by about 60% as well. Of course without the enormous prices of cars people could afford upkeep on their cars too. And we could reinstate safety inspections as well. Just an opinion, but I personally would rather that people on the road with me had decent tires and brakes, even if they did use more gas. Also, You take a new car, I'll take a '72 Olds Delta 88, and we'll try a head-on crash test. Who do you think will walk out and who will go into an ambulance?


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This page contains a single entry by Kevin published on October 8, 2004 10:55 AM.

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