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Do Old Navigation Systems Still Work?

As more new models come out each year, a growing number of vehicles with old navigation systems enter the used-car market. These days, some of the oldest systems are more than a decade old. So if you buy a used car that’s equipped with one of these systems, should you expect them to work? And can you actually use them? We have all the answers.

Expect Them to Work

In the vast majority of older cars, you’ll find that their older navigation and infotainment systems work just fine. Earlier navigation systems aren’t as complicated as you might think — and they often have the capability to perform their functions for a long time, just like an old television or computer. As a result, if you’re buying an old car with an old navigation system, you should absolutely expect the technology to work.

But …

But there’s a problem: While an old navigation system usually works as designed, it won’t always work very well by modern standards.

In today’s world, we’re spoiled by smartphones, tablets and new in-car infotainment systems that respond perfectly to the touch and do exactly what we ask them to do. That isn’t always the case with older navigation systems, which can be slow to respond, tiring to use and cumbersome to operate. What takes only a few seconds on a new navigation system may take a minute with an older system. An older navigation system may also be somewhat out of date, lacking the latest roads, businesses and directions.

Most automakers also don’t offer updates for their navigation systems anymore. And because many cars have seen major navigation system changes over the years, including screen size, button function and clarity, most older navigation systems can’t be brought up to newer navigation system specifications. Imagine trying to get your old black-and-white rear-projection television to look just like an LCD flat-screen.

Not a Selling Point

Because older navigation systems are so compromised, we don’t think they’re a strong selling point if you’re buying a used vehicle. Yes, it’s sometimes nice to have a map in the center of your control stack — in case you’re taking a shortcut or looking for a gas station, park, restaurant or rest stop — but most drivers and passengers will find it’s far easier to operate a modern cellphone navigation system than an older in-car system.

As a result, here’s our take: While an older in-car navigation system may provide some advantage over a car without such a system, we wouldn’t base our purchase on it, and we wouldn’t pay much extra for an older navigation system compared to a car that doesn’t include such technology.

Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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