Suzuki cars leave the US. So should you buy one?
Suzuki recently announced it will stop selling cars in the US, and now there are bargains galore on new Suzuki models. But are there any drawbacks to buying a car from a defunct automaker?
There's nothing like a bargain price on a brand-new car.
But is buying a brand-new car from a departing manufacturer a good deal?
That depends on how the carmaker exits; unlike Saab last December, Suzuki isn't bankrupt and it hasn't stopped making cars. It's just stopped selling them in the U.S.
It also depends on whether your local Suzuki dealer plans to stick around for a few years to service the cars, or whether it plans to close its Suzuki business and transfer warranty claims work to another dealer somewhere further away.
But, first, the purchase price on that new Suzuki--which likely just got lower.
As the case of Saab just this past January showed, dealers may offer 25 percent or more off the new-car sticker price when a brand pulls out of the market.
The tactic worked, too: An Ohio Saab dealer sold 55 of its 122 new cars in one week by slashing prices 25 to 45 percent.
We know of a Detroit buyer who was able to get $4,000 off the $20,399 price of a brand-new 2013 Suzuki SX4 with all-wheel drive and the value package that includes a navigation system. He closed that sale yesterday.
Unlike Saab, however, Japanese carmaker Suzuki isn't defunct, however; only its U.S. unit declared bankruptcy.
That means that not only will parts continue to be available, but that warranties on existing Suzukiswill continue to be honored, and parts availability shouldn't be a problem.
When Saab declared bankruptcy last December after several failed sale attempts, its dealers were left without warranties on their brand-new cars--and had to sell them that way.
That Ohio Saab dealer created a $1,995 service contract for 60,000 miles to substitute for the defunct factory warranty.
Suzuki dealers won't have to do that, and owners shouldn't see any change in warranty coverage.
But it's entirely possible that Suzuki buyers will have to travel further to get their cars serviced, if their local dealer shuts down its Suzuki service business before the warranty ends.
As for parts, because Suzuki is a global automaker and will continue to supply replacement components for its cars elsewhere in the world, service parts shouldn't be a problem.
That ensures that owners (and former Suzuki dealers) can at least get the parts that independent service mechanics need to keep their cars on the road.
In June, the parts-making piece of Saab (which wasn't part of the bankrupt carmaker) set up a new U.S. company that will continue to sell parts for Saabs.
Another factor to consider: Potential buyers should check carefully with their financial institutions if they don't plan on getting a purchase loan through the dealership.
Some banks have more restrictive policies about writing loans for new cars from dead automakers.
In the end, buyers should consider not only whether a new Suzuki represents value for money, but whether it's a car they really want to drive and live with for several years.
Except for the Kizashi sport sedan--larger than a compact, but smaller than a mid-size--Suzuki's lineup of cars and crossovers is now old and not particularly refined.
The SX4 hatchback offered a model that was the lowest-priced all-wheel drive car sold in the U.S., but it and the sister sedan model are now in their seventh model year.
Similarly, the Grand Vitara is aging and uncompetitive on equipment.
And most Suzuki models have lower EPA gas-mileage ratings than competing cars from other makers.
So if you like the price you can get on a new Suzuki, make sure you like the car.
Then weigh the risks carefully...and quiz your dealership about its future plans.
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