Car and truck sales plunged during the Great Recession. Instead of buying new models, Americans clung to their depreciating automobiles. This explains the steep drop in the median value of household vehicles between 2007 and 2009.
In 2007, the median value of the vehicles owned by the average household was $16,200 (in 2009 dollars). By 2009, the figure had dropped to $12,000--a 26 percent decline, according to the Federal Reserve Board's analysis of household wealth. For much more data by demographic characteristic, see the appendix tables that accompany the Fed report, Surveying the Aftermath of the Storm: Changes in Family Finances from 2007 to 2009. For important information on how to interpret the tables, see my earlier post.