The automobile occupies a special place in the American psyche. For most of the 20th century, it was the economic backbone of the nation, spurring growth and innovation across industries including steel, rubber, glass, and petroleum. It was the impetus for the geographic spread of cities and the dispersion of families across the continent.
The car symbolizes freedom, status, and utility. It remains the first major acquisition for many Americans, and obtaining a driver’s license is a rite of passage for every teenage boy and girl. While aircraft and railroad passenger miles have steadily increased over the years, auto passengers still log 7.25 miles for every airplane and rail passenger mile combined.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 192,513,278 automobiles and light trucks registered in the United States at the end of 2011. In 2013, the average age of the typical American’s car on the streets was 11.4 years.
Even as new cars are added to the total, older cars continue to be maintained and driven on a daily basis. On average from 1990 to 2010, for every 100 new cars purchased there were an additional 220 used cars purchased and 23 cars leased. In 2012, approximately 7.25 million new cars were bought, with an additional estimated 16 million used and 1.6 million leased vehicles.
Considerations When Buying a Car
When buying your first car or trading up, there are a number of factors to consider.
Whose heart doesn’t beat faster to the deep rumble of a big V-8? Who doesn’t imagine rolling down the broken shoreline of Highway 1 in a red convertible, top down and hair streaming in the breeze? The trick to managing ego is understanding the trade-offs. A new Corvette is fun to drive, but it costs considerably more money than a Honda Civic.