Lower average income and the tight financial market are prompting Northlanders to hold on to their mostly used imported vehicles longer than desirable.
Figures obtained from the Ministry of Transport by the Motor Trade Association show the average age of used imported vehicles in Northland is 15-16 years while the national average is 13 years.
The situation is prevalent in most provincial areas, with Waimate having the oldest fleet at 17 years followed by Tasman and Waimakariri. Auckland, North Shore and Wellington boast the newest cars but the association said it was not surprising because these were where most of company-owned vehicles were based.
MTA spokesman Ian Stronach said anecdotally, higher rates of older vehicles were representative of average income because people did not go out of their way to change aged cars.
While old cars were just as good as new ones, provided they were road-worthy, he said they did not have safety features such as airbags, and that was not good in the long run, said Mr Stronach.
AA spokesman Mark Stockdale agreed that socio-economic factors meant Northlanders kept their cars for longer than expected.
Ministry data shows that in 2000, New Zealand-new vehicles were being scrapped at 18 years and used imports at 15 years.
In 2011, the average scrapping age of imported used vehicles had jumped to 19 years.