The average age of vehicles on the road reached a record high of 10.8 years last year, according to Polk, a global automotive market intelligence firm headquartered in Southfield, Mich. That was an increase from an average age of 10.6 years in 2010.
Passenger cars showed a modest increase in age since 2010, from 11 years to 11.1 years at the end of June 2011. Light trucks, including pickups and SUVs, show a more sizeable gain, from 10.1 years to 10.4 years. Overall, average vehicle age has been increasing quickly over the past five years. Polk reports average age based on an analysis of national vehicle registration data.
In many cases it makes sense to drop collision and comprehensive auto insurance on older cars that have lost most of their value. Owners must still maintain liability insurance, according to laws in most states, but collision and comprehensive are optional. Collision pays for damage to the car caused by traffic accidents, and comprehensive covers theft and damage from other causes, such as natural disasters, vandalism and collisions with animals. Dropping collision and comprehensive coverage lowers car insurance rates.
In July 2011, there were just over 240.5 million vehicles in operation, an increase of 500,000 over July 2010, according to Polk. The highest volume of vehicles on the road was achieved in July 2008, when more than 242 million passenger cars and light trucks were in operation.