The average car is older now than it was a quarter of a century ago, according to new figures, which are being blamed on motorists buying older cars as the recession continues to bite.

The average age of cars on UK roads is 7.44 years – a significant rise from 2008 when it was under 7 years (6.93).

The report from auction firm British Car Auctions shows that the volume of 6-8 year old vehicles sold in 2011 grew by 7.4% and there are now in excess of 7 million cars in this age bracket on UK roads.

However, this is dwarfed by the number of cars aged 9 years plus, with more than 13 million of these older vehicles on the roads with sales increasing by 7.5% last year.

A number of factors have changed the car ownership and buying patterns of UK motorists since the start of the recession, according to Tim Naylor of BCA: "A slowdown in the new car market from 2008 onwards has certainly had an impact on the availability of good quality used cars for motorists to buy.

"But crucially, company fleets have been holding onto their cars for longer and changing them less frequently and this has affected the supply of cars aged up to five years old. As a result motor dealers are buying older vehicles for their forecourts."

"The squeeze on household spending means motorists are looking at different ways of managing their travel costs. Some are deciding to choose slightly older, cheaper cars when they change their vehicle. Others are looking for more economical cars that deliver a better MPG as they try to combat rising fuel costs. We have also seen a decline in the number of multi-car households which suggests families are having to economise with their personal transport needs."