The lengthening life of your ride

  @Money September 7, 2012: 6:34 AM ET
fsa 09 lengthening life of your ride

The average age of cars and light trucks on the road is now double what it was in 1970.

(Money Magazine)

More and more, people are in a committed relationship -- with their wheels.

The average age of cars and light trucks (SUVs included), says Experian, is now 11 years -- double the age in 1970. Driving this: higher quality and, lately, a poor economy.

Plus, as auto historian John Heitmann notes, buyer frenzy about new tech and dramatic model changes isn't at the car lot anymore; it's at the Apple Store.

Roadmap

Keeping your car? Regular oil changes are a no-brainer, but most people neglect to replace the timing belt every 60,000 miles or so, says Russ Evans of the Under the Hood radio show. Skipping that $800 to $950 job can lead to major engine failure.

Behind the wheel of the first Shelby Cobra

Fixing it? A broken transmission or a blown head gasket can cost thousands to mend; your cash may be better spent renting a car while you shop for a new ride, says Autoblog's Jeff Sabatini. Steer clear of repairs costlier than your car's trade-in value.

Selling it? Because of high demand, late-model cars can get a surprisingly good price from a dealer these days.

Related: 5 most stolen cars

Even clunkers, though, will move on sites such as Craigslist. A $200 wash and detail could make you $500 or more in return, says Richard Arca of Edmunds.com: "Clean junk brings in more than dirty junk." To top of page



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