Does the quality of new cars relate directly to how long people hang on to them? There’s a big market for classic vehicles, however, these have been around longer and satisfy some individuals’ taste for nostalgia. The trends suggest people are hanging on to new cars longer, it went up from 4.3 years in 2006 to 7 years in 2019, while the average age of cars is up from 10.3 in 2009 to 11.8 years today, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. In 1969, the average age for a car was just 5.1 years!

The truth is cars are made differently than they used to. But is this for the better or worse? To answer this, one must look into these specific factors:

Drive Trains/Transmissions

The drive train of cars has changed on many fundamental levels. Connecting the engine to the wheel axles, the drive train allows the car to move. Today, drive trains are more complex yet more reliable thanks to improved materials and mechanical and technological advancements.

Older transmissions relied on various gears to function. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) does not go through different gears at different speeds; its belt-and-pully system delivers the necessary power, providing seamless shifting and delivering maximum power and more responsive acceleration. As quality has improved, CVT’s have become more common in the U.S.

Fuel Economy

Auto manufacturers tend to stick to federal standards when it comes to fuel economy. For economy passenger cars in 1978, this was just 18 mpg, but this went up quickly to 27.5 mpg in 1985 and was around 35.5 by 2016. The availability of alternative fuels, including diesel and even cooking oil, is accommodating people concerned about the environment and climate change. All-electric and hybrid technologies have reduced fuel consumption as well.


If you still own a classic car, it may not even have a seatbelt. They weren’t required until 1968, while state laws didn’t mandate their use until the 1980s. Numerous safety improvements have been realized since. In addition to larger and brighter headlights, automobiles now have airbags, anti-lock braking systems, and high-tech safety features such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, collision warning systems, tire-pressure monitors, lane departure warnings, and rollover prevent systems with stability control.


The latest car models incorporate navigation systems, avoiding reliance on standalone units or your smartphone. A built-in navigation system provides a clear line of sight of the map while you keep your eyes on the road. Voice-recognition systems and turn-by-turn directions make navigation much safer. The future is here with cars that can parallel park on their own; as far as safety and navigation, autonomous tech certainly makes it a positive that cars aren’t made like they used to.


On average, cars do cost more than a few decades ago, even when you consider inflation. It costs time and money for manufacturers to produce cars that meet all current regulations and industry standards. Repairs are generally more affordable, thanks to the availability of parts and cheaper labor. But any repair price depends on the vehicle, model year, and the parts you need.

Find Late-Model, Low-Mileage Pre-Owned Cars at Hawthorne Auto Square

At Hawthorne Auto Square, our used car dealership near Los Angeles sells multi-point inspected used vehicles at affordable prices. We offer in-house financing with fast approval, a wide range of makes and models, and a comprehensive warranty and service and maintenance plan. Visit our Hawthorne, CA, dealership or call our friendly sales team at 866-707-7664 today!