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America Sets a New Record for Old Cars

Mechanic Harrison Garcia works on a Ford Mustang at Brake and Wheel Service Center in San Francisco, California.
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Mechanic Harrison Garcia works on a Ford Mustang at Brake and Wheel Service Center in San Francisco, California.

Feel like you're driving an old car? You're not alone. In fact, the average age of vehicles in the U.S. has hit a new all-time high. Experian Automotive says the average age of the 245 million vehicles registered in the U.S. in the first quarter of this year was 11 years.

That's an increase of just over 2 months compared the first quarter of last year.

What's behind the increase? Part of it is because the recession and sluggish recovery forced many people to put off buying or trading-in for a new or used car. Another factor is the fact cars and trucks are built to run longer. That quality improvement picked up momentum in the early '90s. Now, many of those cars and trucks are 13 to 22 years old, and yes there are millions of them still on the road.

In fact, Experian says more than 52 million cars and trucks in America are 16 years or older. (Related: What models will become collectibles?)

Ford Runs Strong

In its analysis of vehicle registrations, Experian found more Ford Motor models on the road than other model. That shouldn't come as a surprise since the Ford F-Series truck has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 30 straight years. According to Experian Automotive, here the top 4 brands of vehicles in operation in the U.S.:

Ford: 17.2%
Chevrolet: 15.8%
Toyota: 10.4%
Honda: 7.3%

The four most popular models on the road in the U.S., according to Experian Automotive, are:

Ford F-150: 3.4%
Honda Accord: 2.6%
Toyota Camry: 2.6%
Chevy Silverado: 2.0%

One final note: For all the attention that's been given to hybrid and electric vehicles over the last decade, they are just 0.9 percent of the vehicles in operation in the U.S. That works out to a little over 2 million alternatively powered vehicles.

—By CNBC’s Phil LeBeau

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