Many Americans are clinging to their older wheels

A study by researchers at the auto firm Polk finds the average age for vehicles on America's roadways has climbed to an all-time high of 11.4 years.

The study cited a combination of factors that play into why Americans have a tighter grip on their wheels, like slow economic recovery and reliability of newer cars.

Robert Stringfellow of Connecticut has been driving his car for 20 years.

"It was a good, strong, durable car. And the way the economy is, it's kind of hard to afford a new car at this time," Stringfellow said.

Steven Small, General Manager of Car City in Conway, said it wasn't always this way.

"Back about five, six years ago, everybody wanted a new car every couple of years," Small said.

He said cars are made much differently now.

"Probably in the last 10 to 15 years, they've made a lot of new innovations, things that make cars go for longer time spans, and they actually last longer," Small said.

He said anyone looking to buy a car right now can tell.

"The manufacturers now on a new car, they're going up on their warranties. You used to get a car and it was 3 years, 36,000 miles. Most of your manufacturers now, they went to 5 years, 100,000 miles. So that manufacturer knows, they know, that the cars are being built better.They're not going to set themselves up for failure," Small said.

Both the study and Small said as people start trading in these older models that just won't run anymore, they're confident newer vehicle sales will rise.

Polk calculated the age of the 247 million cars, trucks and SUV's in operation throughout the country by reviewing vehicle registrations earlier this year.