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Consumers Kick the 3-Year Car Buying Cycle

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Cars may not be like fine wines and cheese, getting better with age, but more Americans are holding on to their aging vehicles and that behavior isn’t expected to change with an improving economy.

A new survey from AutoMD.com of almost 4,000 car owners shows that Americans overwhelmingly see themselves owning their car for 10 or more years, or until the car dies. Three in four of those surveyed said owning a car for two or three years is a notion of the past that won’t be returning post-recession.

The survey participants are already practicing what they preach, it seems. Of those surveyed, 60% said that their primary car has more than 100,000 miles on it, with 23% saying their car had 60,000-100,000 miles.

What’s spurring this return to car loyalty? The economy is still the leading factor (47%), but interestingly a return to vigilance about car repairs and maintenance is also ranked highly, with 44% of respondents citing it as a reason they’re keeping their car longer.

“There is nothing surprising about the economy driving car owners to hold onto their vehicles for longer — our data has been showing this trend for the past three years; but what is most compelling is that longer ownership has become an embedded habit for car owners, regardless of what the economy does,” said Brian Hafer, VP of Marketing at AutoMD.com, in a press release.

It seems that credit is not a major factor in respondents’ reasons to buy a new car. Only 11% of those planning to buy a car this year said historically low finance rates and more credit availability are a factor. The top reason was necessity, with 54% of car buyers saying they have no choice but to buy a new car because their current vehicle is about to die.

For those readers looking for an auto loan, check out our recent piece to understand what a good auto loan rate is when looking at industry averages. Or, if you’re unhappy with the current rate on your auto loan, you can always refinance to a lower rate and save some money. The first step to refinancing to a better rate is understanding the areas in which your credit report is strong and weak. You can do this through the Credit Report Card.

Image: epSos.de, via Flickr

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    Am retired and FINALLY two years ago traded in a 10 year old car with 140000 miles on it. And that was a mistake. I ended up with a new Prius and the primary reason for buying was outstanding gas mileage and 0 (zero) interest for 5 years. The previous car was a 32 valve Lincoln v-8 that was in very good shape. and I felt it was time to get a car with great gas mileage as gas was getting more expensive. Even with 0 interest I still am behind financially. I have saved over $4000 in gas over the first 40,000 miles but the pymts were about $9000 pver that time. The unknown of course is what I would have paid in repairs over that time. I had put over $2000 in the an the previous 2 years.My otherc ar is a 1998 Merc Mountaineall wheel driver now with 192000 miles on it. RUns great leaks a little oil and gets only 20 mpg but am keeping it for a while longer as it is a second vehicle driven only infrequently and we have a place where we have much snow in the winter. Anyhow, for me, the right decision is indeed to keep the clunker as long as it is reliable.

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