Car brands come and go. The number of discontinued cars on the road has climbed over the past decade, as brands such as Pontiac, Suzuki, Saab, Hummer and Saturn exited the market. Sometimes specific models are canceled as well, such as the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart, leaving owners wondering how long parts will be available for maintenance and repairs. Fortunately, the supply chain for some eliminated models is relatively strong, especially in retail aftermarket stores like NAPA AUTO PARTS. Here’s how to keep your discontinued cars running for years to come.
1. Gone or Not Quite
Although some brands are gone, similar models from other brands may still be on the market. This is where you need to determine the status of your vehicle. For instance, although the Pontiac brand is gone, the majority of models had a GM equivalent, which means parts availability shouldn’t present a problem. The Pontiac G6, for example, was also sold as the Chevrolet Malibu.
On the other hand, owners of the Suzuki Kizashi and the Saab 9-5 sedan may find the parts market especially challenging, particularly as their “orphan cars” age. Orphan cars are vehicles that have outlived their parent company. Neither brand is tied in with a surviving domestic manufacturer, although some Saab products share components with certain GM models. Other brands no longer present in the U.S. include Daihatsu and Isuzu, and auto parts for both may be difficult to find. As for other discontinued brands, such as Mercury, Oldsmobile and Plymouth, equivalent brand vehicles from their parent companies still exist.
2. Make a Parts List
If you are determined to stay with your orphan car, acquiring parts while they’re still available can help you avoid headaches later. Items such as Saab brake pads are available through a local NAPA AUTO PARTS store. Hoses, belts, timing chains, electrical switches, sensors, struts, tie rods, trailing arms, gear couplings and clutch cables are just a few of the parts you may need to eventually replace. Acquiring these parts while they’re still available is wise. Don’t forget that your local NAPA may be able to locate and cross reference many of the parts you need using their extensive parts catalog selection and first hand experience. Some stores keep parts catalogs going back for decades that contain a treasure trove of parts information found nowhere else.
Replacement auto parts for the car body can be much more of a challenge to secure, especially if the car wasn’t particularly popular in the first place or if it was discontinued more than a decade ago. What body parts you can’t source through normal channels like NAPA and NAPA AutoCare Collision Centers may require you to make some calls to a salvage yard as a last resort.
3. Don’t Do It Alone
A great resource for finding replacement parts once the supply chain dries up may come from other owners of your make and model. There is a chance other people facing the same predicament and might be willing to help you track down parts. Build a network of like-minded people, and it’ll be easier for you to acquire what you need. A Facebook page dedicated to your make and model would be an ideal way to make that connection. You might also attend various orphan car shows held around the country as a way to discover what other people are doing to keep their old rides running.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on maintenance and repairs on discontinued cars, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.