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Replace your car soon or drive it until it dies?

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Americans have no plans to replace their cars every few years, even if the economy is fine, according to a survey by, a free auto repair website owned by US Auto Parts Network.

Just three percent of the more than 4,000 car owners surveyed said they plan to replace their car every three to five years, and just four percent pegged buying a replacement at six to seven years. A whopping 78 percent of those surveyed said that they would keep their car "more than 10 years or until it dies," while the remaining 15 percent of owners said they'd replace their cars every eight to 10 years.

While numerous studies have shown that Americans are holding onto their cars longer than ever before, notes that this survey shows the trend to keep cars longer is growing, even though the economy is improving. More than half of those surveyed said an improving economy would not encourage them to buy a new car sooner, while 80 percent of all of those surveyed said they plan to drive their cars for more than 100,000 miles. The top reasons why were:

  • Economy -- 47 percent.
  • Vigilant repair/service -- 44 percent.
  • Cost Savings -- 37 percent.
  • DIY-ing -- 28 percent.
  • Better-built cars -- 19 percent.

Keeping your car beyond the length of your auto loan means you can save money by not having a monthly car payment, plus car insurance gets cheaper as a car gets older.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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carl Young
August 20, 2012 at 4:47 am

the ecomony is getting better?? You all must be reading CSMBC or CNN. Our ecomony in Tennessee is in the tank and going down hill as we speak.layoffs almost weekley..showing no signs of improvement. I am a small business owner and believe me..Im not hiring..Im laying off..

Jose C
August 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I have a 2005 Scion xB (the "box" on wheels lol) with 83,000 miles. 98% of my coworkers drive new (cars (should I say "lease" cars they can't afford otherwise) and as a previous poster, Mike R. , said i get constantly skuffed at work for not only driving a more "normal looking" car but becuase its not new. I fell into the "keeping up with the Jone's" BS years ago and paid dearly with a filing for bankruptcy. I don't have a car payment now, my insurance is low and the Toyota reliability is showing thru with only wear and tear plus maintenance required on my Scion - nothing else. I always take car of my cars and this car looks/runs almost new with not one squeak or rattle. I refuse to pay $300 and ups A MONTH (excluding insurance, gas, etc) to impress strangers...hell no.

August 18, 2012 at 8:38 am

Is it worth purchasing an extended warranty for a car? I have a 2004 Dodge Neon. Which auto warranty company do you recommend?

August 17, 2012 at 12:04 am

I have a ford 350 with 272000 and it still gets me to job to job its a gas and have done just small stuff to it to keep it running im happy with what i get out of it just wish gas was cheaper

mike rondeau
August 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm

i don't agree with ur article at all. i work nights i see the traffic jam going the other way every morning. i see lots of new cars. i also see lots of gas guzzling trucks cars and suv's with just one person in them. i get scoffed at all the time at work because i don't have a shinny new car that i just bought.
i have a 1997 with 340 000 miles on it and still going. done little in repairs. i have never been straanded. so its a keeper

Elizabeth Z
August 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm

My brother pays himself a car payment into an a/c, even when his car is already paid off. by the time he has about $20,000 saved up, it is time to trade in his old one., He absolutely refuses to make car payments to anyone . good habit to have.

August 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I have a 98 grand prix purchased it new,it has 187,522 miles on at first sight and still do .I've taken very good care of it over the years. Body ,paint,interior all in very good shape.Mechanic says i can get another 30,000 thousand if continue to take care of it.Only thing is, recently it has been needing repairs costing in the hundreds.The heat and air has been the most recent,which i refuse to get fixed.Last week the metal brake hose and some spring near the tire broke $300.I Want to get a new car but i detest car payments.So where do you draw the line and dump the car that was a virgin when you intentions are to drive it until it dumps me for good.

Ron M
August 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Y'all always want to talk about how long you keep a car, but I never see anything about saving money by keeping your shoes, clothing, TV, CELL PHONE, furniture, et al until they wear out.
How about never going to a ball game, concert, theater? After all, you can always read about it in the paper tomorrow. Or better yet, don't buy a paper, just hear about it on your 40 year old radio.
Sorry folks but there is no free ride. your current vehicle keeps depreciating in value and your next car ( new or used) is going to cost more than your last one. The Piper must be paid.

August 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I (we) have a 1998 Ford Expedition with 187000 miles and is not costing to much in repairs yet but I'm waiting. I take care of all my own repairs/services so that saves a little. Would love to get another vehicle as it's a pain to only have one for two drivers, but with the cost of everyday living increasing by the day it's just not possible. Especially not a NEW car.

August 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm

My 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee will turn over 150,000 this week. However, I have been spending way too much the last 6 months on repairs which average $400-600 per visit. I was hoping to go to 250000 but as Jeep is a Chrysler product it isn't going to happen. Looking for a reliable used Toyota or Honda SUV to replace it. Refuse to buy new.