Americans love their cars. In the pre-recession era, people changed their cars much more frequently buying an average of 13 vehicles in their lifetime. Recently, times have been a bit tougher, so how has this affected car ownership? Let’s take a look.

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Why The Average Age Of Cars Is Increasing

The latest report from IHS Automotive states that 11.5 years is the average age of U.S. automobiles on the road right now. This number has been increasing steadily since 2002. Today the average person buys 9.4 cars per lifetime. There are several reasons for these trends.

Economic factors certainly make a difference as people are more frugal these days. Another factor is that lenders have extended financing terms which means paying off a car loan can take longer. Finally, improved manufacturing quality often helps keep people satisfied with the same car even for over a decade.

Not All Are Long Term Owners

One report says that some car owners think of their cars like cell phones. These people are quite happy to make a car payment month after month as long as they can change cars frequently. This report, however, only asked about preferences and not about actual behavior. Changing cars every 1 to 2 years is only a reality for those with no financial restraints.

Safety Issues

It’s important to consider that older cars may not carry the latest safety features. This can translate to higher car insurance rates. So the next time you upgrade, try to get a model that has at least electronic stability control (ESC) and side curtain airbags.

In 2007, ESC was available on about 50 percent of cars in the U.S. By 2010, ESC was standard on 88 percent of cars. Built upon anti-lock braking systems, electronic stability control helps drivers maintain control over the car during a turn to avoid sliding and skidding. A June 2006 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety predicted that over 10,000 lives could be saved annually if all cars had this feature.

More Reliable But Not Perfect

Cars have never been built better. They last longer, have fewer breakdowns, and are safer. But every car, old and new, can be subject to mechanical failure. If the vehicle is under factory warranty, then the repairs are covered. If not, the costs can sometimes be very high.

One way to deflect these costs is by investing in an extended car warranty. Extended warranties are very much like their factory counterparts. This gives you the peace of mind that even if your vehicle is pushing its 10th birthday, you still have warranty protection.

No matter how old your vehicle is, keep it covered by an extended car warranty. Get a free used car warranty quote from CARCHEX now.

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