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THE average age of used cars has rocketed by more than 30 per cent in the past four years and buyers who could afford a three-year-old car in 2019 can now only aspire to a six-year-old, or older, car.

In addition these cars have racked between 60,000km and 160,000km more.

The startling find comes from an iSeeCars study and research from the US market both prior to and after the pandemic. iSeeCars is a data-based search and research company. 

It reflects not only the additional funds needed by motorists to buy a car, but also the increased likelihood that these owners buying higher mileage vehicles will have to pay for increased wear and tear repair problems.

Because of the higher age bracket and distance covered, many would also have expired OEM warranties, putting the buyer in line for paying out on these additional repair costs.

The trend has ramifications in the Australian market as the lower number of new cars sold during the pandemic years starts to hit home as it flows through to used vehicle market supply. 

The iSeeCars research looked at 21 million vehicles in the US sold in 2019 and 2023 and found that the average age of used cars increased from 4.8 years to 6.1 years, while the average price across all ages increased 33 per cent, from $US20,398 to $US27,133.

iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer said: “Pandemic plant shutdowns have come home to roost in the used-car market.

“With between 20 and 45 per cent fewer one-year-old to three-year-old used cars available, there simply aren’t enough models to meet demand. 

“This is forcing used car shoppers to buy much older cars to stay on budget,” he said.

When looking at 2019 pricing for popular models compared to today’s market, iSeeCars’ analysis shows that consumers must buy a car over twice as old to get the same model at the same price in 2023. 

Those extra years also mean between 64,000km and 160,000km more will be on these cars compared to the three-year-old models selling in 2019.As we know, the pandemic plant shutdowns and supply chain issues limited new car production from 2020 to 2022, dramatically driving up new and used car prices. 

Those restricted new models now make up the bulk of one to five-year-old used cars, reducing used car availability while continuing to drive up prices. “While the pandemic only restricted production of new cars between 2020 and 2022, the impact can be seen across one- to 11-year-old models,” Mr Brauer said.

“This will influence used car market prices for several years, and with inflation compounding the effect, we’ll likely never see pre-pandemic prices again.”

Here is a comparison of average price by age of used cars in 2019 vs. 2023:

Here is a price and age comparison for popular used models in 2019 vs. 2023:

 

You can see the full study for more information, including:

  • The change in market share for used cars between 1 and 11 years old
  • The full list of 48 popular cars that must be over twice as old for consumers to pay the same price in 2023 vs. 2019

By Neil Dowling

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