Every year the top auto manufacturers announce that there will be discontinued options on some of their models that didn’t produce the way they had hoped they would. While this can cause alarm for those who bought those cars, as replacement parts become increasingly harder to find as the years go by, it can also be a good thing for you.
Just because a certain model or option has been discontinued doesn’t mean the inventory magically dries up. Instead, dealerships do everything in their power to get these models off their lots to make room for a new wave of vehicles that are on their way. Discontinued doesn’t mean they’re off the market completely, and that can be very good for you as a customer.
According to a study released in 2019, well over 50% of the vehicles purchased in the United States between 2000 and 2018 were used or pre-owned vehicles. That means if you’re in the market to upgrade your personal vehicle, there’s a better chance than not that you’re already considering a pre-owned ride. If you’re taking this approach to your next vehicle, consider looking for a pre-owned model that has something you like that has been discontinued. Not only can you get a reliable vehicle, but you can also find yourself in a position to save even more money.
Why Are Vehicles or Vehicle Options Discontinued?
Ultimately, a manufacturer’s decision to discontinue a particular model or upgrade a feature is a business move. Every year the top engineers at different automobile manufacturers find a way to improve their most successful models, but they also look for new options to put on the market. Some of those new options are hits among consumers while some are misses.
While the misses are few and far between, what typically ends up happening is that a particular type of car just simply runs out of market viability. For instance, it was announced that 2020 would see Dodge and Chrysler stop producing small and midsize sedans.
No one would argue that small or midsize four-door family cars were “failures.” The market for this type of vehicle has simply dried up to the point where it is no longer worth the investment of some companies to continue to produce them. Other vehicles that won’t be produced going forward include the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Fiestas and the Lincoln MKC. While these were all wildly successful models with popular options during their long production runs, the companies have decided to change their focus going forward.
It’s also possible that a vehicle is “discontinued” but is actually replaced by a new, yet very similar version. This was the sort of move that was made in the early 2000s when General Motors announced that they would no longer be making the long-tenured Chevy Blazer, but would be replacing it with the new, sportier-looking Chevy Trailblazer. In this case, Chevrolet decided it was time to give their SUV a new look, a new power package and even a new class size. This prompted the discontinuation of the Blazer and the introduction of the Trailblazer.
Now that you know that vehicles aren’t necessarily discontinued because they weren’t “up to par” or there was something wrong with them, here are some of the other myths you may have heard about options that have moved on to the “big dealership in the sky.” Sometimes the decision to discontinue has nothing to do with poor sales of a particular make or model. Ultimately, while vehicle manufacturers do make money off of every sold vehicle, the profit margin of each individual vehicle also plays a role.
Manufacturers spend huge amounts of money on vehicles before they ever make their way onto a dealership’s lot. For instance, Toyota plans to spend about $10 billion dollars just on research and development. That figure doesn’t account for payroll, advertising budgets, and the money that it takes to assemble an entire line of vehicles for each new year. When the amount of money spent is added up, there simply isn’t enough to continue to fund the manufacturing of every vehicle a given manufacturer has ever made.
Those manufacturers have to always be looking to the future, trying to be innovative in their own right while also trying to outdo their competitors who are evolving and introducing new models or upgrading their features and aesthetics. Everything takes money, and that money typically comes from the models which aren’t in such high demand anymore.
There is also a common myth that says once a manufacturer discontinues a certain model, you’ll never be able to find replacement parts for it again. That’s simply untrue. For instance, Chevrolet has not produced the Nova since 1988 but there are still plenty of places where you can get parts when you need them. Refusing to buy a discontinued car out of fear of not being able to find parts is simply misguided concern. Unless you’re looking at a vehicle that was made overseas by a relatively small company, you shouldn’t run into issues when it comes time to replace a part.
What Are the Benefits of Buying a Discontinued Car?
By now you’ve already established that buying a discontinued, pre-owned vehicle can save you money. Ideally, you’ve also figured out that buying a discontinued model won’t put you in a tough position when it comes time to find parts. But what are some of the benefits to grabbing a car that isn’t going to be made anymore?
First of all, it’s very possible to actually build equity when buying a discontinued car. While your vehicle may no longer be in circulation, there are cultural impacts that can cause your chosen ride to soar in value. One such case of this happening recently was when the TV show Breaking Bad featured the Pontiac Aztek, which hadn’t been produced since the early part of the 2000s. The long-discontinued General Motors SUV saw a surge in popularity after being used on the TV show. While every discontinued vehicle won’t be used by a fictional character, those that are can see a new wave of demand.
Another vehicle that is discontinued but is now largely sought after is the Honda S2000. This two-seater sports car from Honda wasn’t on the market for very long, but quickly developed a loyal fan base who still look for ways to get their hands on one of these cars, which haven’t been manufactured since 2008. There have been some reports of collectors and Honda enthusiasts paying nearly $50,000 dollars for the S2000.
Secondly, the savings associated with a discontinued vehicle aren’t just found on the sticker price in the window. These vehicles are also often marked with dealer financing options that can be as little as 0% interest. While every discontinued car may not be offered at such a premium deal, you can certainly ask your dealer about it.
Finally, discontinued cars generally have more room for negotiating when you find yourself at the desk with your salesman. While dealerships aren’t looking for ways to lose money, the need to get these vehicles off the lots so a new wave of vehicles and options can come in will often leave lot managers very motivated to make a deal to get the old inventory out of the way.
Ultimately the decision that you make when deciding whether or not to opt for a discontinued vehicle or a car with discontinued features comes down to one thing: getting the vehicle that will make you the happiest. A recent study indicates that Americans spend over eight hours every week behind the wheel of their vehicle, which translates to over 18 days a year. That’s more than two weeks out of a calendar year that you’re going to spend in the vehicle that you choose.
There is a host of options that you’ll have to consider when picking what will make you the happiest, but many of those things may be found in a discontinued vehicle. If you’re looking for a great economic option, a pre-owned vehicle that is no longer in circulation will allow you to save money on two fronts: asking price and financing. If you want to treat your vehicle as an investment, there’s also the potential of your vehicle being worth more than you paid for it thanks to collectors.
Avoiding a discontinued vehicle out of fear of not being able to find parts is the ultimate example of a catch-22; the vehicle that you choose today may be discontinued by next year. Don’t let fear keep you out of the vehicle that you want the most.
Sit down and decide what matters the most to you when you’re looking for a new vehicle for your personal use. If a pre-owned, discontinued vehicle provides your top priorities, don’t hesitate to take the leap and get what you’ll love. If you adore a paint color or seat type that no longer comes in your favorite car, used vehicles can be a great way to attain this. After all, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time behind the wheel.