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Buying a Car: Should You Consider a Discontinued Model?

When searching for a new car or truck, it’s important to understand all the offerings from trim levels, comfort and safety features, and how the vehicle performs compared to its direct rivals.

But what do you do when your ideal new car is in its final year of production? Should you consider buying a discontinued car?

Cars that disappeared for the 2021 model year included the budget-friendly Honda Fit hatchback, the roomy Chevrolet Impala sedan, and the wildly fast Alfa Romeo 4C coupe.

No matter if your car hunting involves zeroing in on a fancy sports car or a long-running sedan that happens to be in its twilight year, a vehicle that’s soon to be canceled can have many benefits, plus a few potential drawbacks.

Keep in mind, some cars coming to the end of the road might lack features offered in more up-to-date competitors. This could include anything from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity to safety items like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems. A lack of features like these could be a deciding factor for many shoppers.

Here are some key things to consider if the car, truck, or SUV you’re craving will soon be discontinued.

Parts Availability 

Let’s start things off with some good news. When a car shopper learns the vehicle they’re considering is due to be canceled, one of the biggest worries is whether essential parts will be available years into the future.

After all, you don’t want to encounter a problem down the road and not have the means to have your vehicle fixed. So, the first and possibly most important question is whether automotive parts will be available after a car is no longer manufactured.

The short answer is yes, with a small caveat. When an automaker stops building a car, it continues building parts for years after the car goes out of production. Other third-party companies also routinely build car parts, too.

For example, the Honda Fit is no longer available brand new. Yet, finding parts for this popular economy car won’t be a problem until long after this chirpy fuel-sipper qualifies for antique status. The same holds true for canceled mainstream models like the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Toyota Yaris, and Lexus GS.

Fear not: None of these vehicles will be short on parts for many years to come.

Also know that many modern cars and trucks share parts with other makes and models. This means even if the vehicle you’re considering has been canceled, the automaker will still build parts for other vehicles. This includes those that share its engine, transmission, or smaller pieces such as headlights, seats, ventilation dials, or window switches.

What if the Car Brand Goes Away?

In some cases, however, the plug isn’t being pulled on only one model, but the entire car brand is going away.

This isn’t as much of a problem if the brand is part of a larger automaker that’s still churning out millions of vehicles. Examples along these lines include the youth-oriented Scion brand that was part of Toyota, along with General Motors’ defunct brands like Saturn and Pontiac.

What can truly throw a wrench in the works, so to speak, is when an entire brand pulls out of the United States market or goes out of business. The ranks of these well-and-truly departed automakers include Saab, Suzuki, Daihatsu, and, for all you loyal Gremlin owners out there, AMC.

Parts for these makes and models won’t necessarily be made out of “Unobtainium,” but they could be trickier to source. This is particularly true if the vehicle you’re considering sold in very small numbers.

The Cool Factor

While we’re on the subject of sales, when considering a car that’s being canceled, chances are good it’s being pulled from an automaker’s lineup due to slow sales. It only makes sense that a car company wouldn’t stop selling a vehicle people are clamoring to get into.

For some shoppers, this isn’t a major factor in their purchase decision. In fact, having a car you don’t see filling every spot in a parking lot can be a point of pride. Recently discontinued models like the Lincoln Continental sedan and Mercedes-Benz SLC roadster never roared to the top of any sales chart. But they’re perfectly fine vehicles and could be the perfect choice for some people.

On the other hand, some shoppers might prefer to avoid any perceived automotive stigma that comes with choosing a car on the chopping block. At the end of the day, buying a car is a highly personal choice. It can’t always be rationalized via MPG figures or 0-60 mph times.

Some models simply get discontinued for being old and outdated — and we wouldn’t recommend buying a vehicle with these flaws.

The recently discontinued Dodge Journey, for example, was long overdue for a major overhaul. It trailed a wide range of SUV rivals in terms of available active safety features. Those include lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring,  and tech touches such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Finding a Great Deal

Bargain-hunting shoppers might focus solely on vehicles going out of production because they believe they’ll score a huge deal. But is this really true? Are dealers especially eager to offer big markdowns simply because a car or truck is in its last model year?

There’s more good news in store because, with few exceptions, the answer is a resounding yes.

When a car gets canceled, dealers are often happy to get that specific model off their lots. This can be due to a new and potentially more popular model arriving to take its place.

Other dealerships might start slashing prices, which means less of a profit for every example sold. Whatever the reason, you can often find great deals on cars due to be canceled.

There’s one big drawback, and it’s related to resale value. A car slated for cancellation usually has worse resale value than a typical model. If you buy a canceled car and keep it only a few years, those initial savings could be wiped out when it’s time to sell.

There are exceptions, particularly if only a specific trim level is due to be axed. The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is a 710-horsepower SUV set to be built in limited numbers for only one model year. Good luck trying to score a bargain on this tire-melting, Hemi-powered speed machine.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Discontinued Car

When the dust clears and you’ve done all your car buying research, the simple fact is there are advantages and drawbacks that come with buying a canceled car or truck.

You might land an amazing deal, but the resale value could nosedive once you drive off the lot.

Or you might find something rare and ideal for your driving needs. But if the vehicle is too much of a vehicular unicorn, finding parts could be increasingly difficult. This is especially true if you plan on keeping the car for an extended period of time.

If the pros still outweigh the cons for the soon-to-be canceled car that caught your eye, then buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Read More Stories on Car Buying:

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published. Nick Kurczewski contributed to this report.

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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

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