Years ago, owning a car for ten years was seen as driving the car into the ground. Today, now that’s pretty much the norm.

Research shows that American drivers are keeping their cars longer than ever. In 2012, the average age of the 247 million vehicles on American roads pushed past 11 years for the first time. That’s almost two years longer than Americans kept their cars in 2007.

Experts expect the average age to remain at today’s average of 11.4 in 2015 before it increases again and reaches an estimated 11.7 in 2019.

So why are American drivers keeping cars longer than ever? There are many reasons, including the following:

Better vehicles

Part of the blame falls at the feet of the automakers themselves. Quite simply, auto makers are simply building better vehicles that offer increased durability. That translates into drivers feeling more confident about driving their vehicles longer.

The changing face of high mileage

Increased mileage expectations provide proof of the longevity in today’s vehicles. In the 60s and 70s, vehicle odometers could not exceed 99,999 miles before “rolling over” to zeros once again. Today, many vehicle owners view 100,000 miles as a vehicle’s midlife – just as they view five to six years of age to be a marker of the same.

Increasingly in today’s market, 200,000 miles is the new 100,000. Research from shows that five different models have three percent or more of their current fleet eclipsing the 200,000 mile mark on America’s roads. As technology continues to improve, experts believe 200,000 miles will become the new mark for a high-mileage vehicle.

The role of the recession

The recession is over, but its impact cannot be discounted when considering the average age of the vehicles on American roads. Many of these autos were purchased before the recession; as the market soured, lowered consumer confidence and employment concerns prevented Americans from buying new vehicles. It also caused them to favor older, more inexpensive vehicles through used car and leasing options.

The recession impacted the automakers themselves by causing them to decrease production. This resulted in millions of fewer new cars being available for sale.
While the average age of vehicles on the American road continues to climb, auto sales are rising right along with it. New vehicle sales have risen six percent in 2014, and the market is on pace to sell 16.4 million vehicles this year. This represents the most since 2006.

Next, learn what can go wrong with your old car–and how you can prevent a small issue from turning into a major problem.

Read the full story from Erie Insurance: “What’s Behind Drivers Keeping Cars Longer