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Is It Bad To Buy A Discontinued Car? Myths and Misconceptions

Getting yourself a brand new set of wheels is probably not the wisest way to part with your money. Most personal finance experts agree that the best way to buy a car is to pay cash for a used model in reasonably good condition. Sometimes, buyers come across discontinued cars standing in the corner of a dealership lot. More often than not, they are sold at a steep discount. That makes them a tempting purchase. But is it a good idea? Let’s weigh the pros and cons and dispel the myths that surround discontinued vehicles.

Is it a good investment?

Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes, if you are well-informed about that particular model, have a trusted mechanic service provider on a speed dial, and know where to get the parts. Otherwise, look for other options. If you are not very knowledgeable about cars in general, or just going to buy your first vehicle, then you probably shouldn’t toy with the idea of owning a discontinued model. If you still want to give it a try, make sure to bring along a mechanic or another expert who can give you an estimate of how good or bad the deal is going to be.

You may do some of your research online before going to a dealership. There are quite a few automotive forums and communities that discuss everything from the newest sports vehicles to used cars. Ask the owners of discontinued vehicles for tips and get a clear picture of what it’s going to be if you buy a similar model. In terms of finances, if you want to make it a smart investment, you should drive that car for at least five years. Some discontinued models have abysmal resale value because the repairs are expensive and the parts are hard to get.

On the other hand, if you’re not used to trading in your ride every year, buying a discontinued one is a financially sound choice. First, you’d probably get a nice bonus or a buying incentive to take the car off the dealership lot (dealers want to get rid of slow-moving inventory). If the car’s manufacturer follows a unified platform strategy, then getting new parts won’t be an issue at all. And not all discontinued models have low resale value, some are even considered cult items or status symbols. For example, after the hit TV drama “Breaking Bad” aired, thousands of buyers started searching for Walter White’s infamous car. Sales of the Pontiac Aztec surged because of its newfound cool factor.

Is it hard to maintain and service?

In 80% of the cases, buying a discontinued model changes nothing when it comes to maintenance and potential repairs. If your car is produced by a well-known manufacturer and considered a mainstream model, then you shouldn’t worry about getting parts at all. Manufacturers keep stocking parts to assist customers with repairs. You can find all you need by shopping online.

If the model is fairly recent, then there’s a good chance that a lot of its parts are interchangeable with other models from the same automaker. On the other hand, single-make cars and ancient clunkers made by companies that ceased to exist a long time ago can prove to be a real challenge when it comes to finding fitting parts. Buy those vehicles only if they provide you with some sentimental value or if you’re looking for a rare collector’s item.

What about reliability?

Reliability is a tricky question when it comes to buying any car: used, new, expensive, or cheap. If you are well-informed, it won’t be a big problem. Finding out a vehicle’s personal history is possible with some apps. You can also learn the safety score of any car by visiting specialized websites. Bring a professional mechanic along with you to the dealership lot. Let them inspect your possible purchase and provide you with their expert opinion. Then you can decide whether the deal is good or not by factoring in the estimated cost of potential repairs. Another good piece of advice is to check for recall reports, safety issues with a particular model. Find out how the company solved recall issues and if there were many of those.


There are good sides and bad sides to buying a car that was discontinued, which we have briefly discussed. However, it could be a very financially sensible move, if you know what you are getting into. Visit your local dealerships, give them a call, or look online. For example, if you live in Pennsylvania, searching for used cars in Philadelphia is your starting point. Always make sure that your vehicle is safe and reliable, doesn’t need extensive repairs at the moment of purchase, and has plenty of spare parts available.


Jeff Campbell