Rising Car Prices Drives More People To Keep Their Older Vehicles

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Just like gas, car prices are breaking records and driving more people to keep their older vehicles.

Many cars on the roadways right now are more than a decade old. Linda Burns’ Volkswagen Beetle has been around the block.

“This is 22 years old,” she said of her Beetle.

And it looks like she will be behind the wheel a while longer.

“I’d love to have a new car but the cost of cars these days is prohibitive,” Burns said.

She’s not alone. A new nationwide survey shows for the first time the average age of vehicles on the road is now over 12 years old.

“Cars and parts are hard to come by,” said Spencer Harris, a mechanic at Frank’s Automotive.

Supply chain shortages and manufacturing delays are creating a limited supply of new cars – and making used cars more expensive. Local mechanics say they’re seeing a huge increase in customers trying to keep their clunkers.

“Sometimes people look for a new car, and they go out there and get frustrated and they come right back,” Harris said.

So what should people do to keep their older cars running?

“Maintenance is key,” Harris said. “A small leak can cause a major problem.”

Mechanics recommend replacing oil and fluids regularly, not ignoring check-engine lights when they come on, and keeping the gas tank at least one-quarter full to help keep the fuel pump cool.

“It’s just like your body,” Harris said. “Maintain your body, maintain your vehicle, it will run better and last longer.”

More and more drivers are pushing the pedal on aging automobiles. It’s a trend that may last until there’s a shift in record-breaking car prices.

“As long as they keep on running, that’s where I’m going with it,” Burns said.

The average price for a new car is now more than $46,000 — that’s up more than $5,000 over the same time last year.