How to Service a Car From a Discontinued Brand

Tips to keep your car running after its brand disappears.

2007 Toyota ScionToyota

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Unlike the sense of relief and satisfaction after a long road trip comes to a happy conclusion, that’s not the case when your car’s brand comes to its journey's end. Millions of car owners regularly get behind the wheel of an automotive nameplate that no longer exists. Brands like Suzuki, Isuzu, Plymouth, Pontiac, Saturn, Oldsmobile, Saab, and Scion were all relegated to the automotive scrapyard in the sky.

What does a car owner do when their car brand no longer exists? The key is not to panic. There are many ways to keep a vehicle from a discontinued brand on the road and running strong for years to come.

Where does your car go for service?

Let’s start with some good news regarding keeping your vehicle serviced and in top-running condition. Parts sharing is widespread among car brands, especially sub-brands within a larger company. That’s the case with former General Motors (GM) brands like Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, and Oldsmobile, and the case with Toyota’s defunct Scion brand as well as Chrysler’s nearly-forgotten Plymouth brand.

These brands operated like divisions under their parent company umbrellas. That means that although a 2010 Pontiac G6 sedan may not look like a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, the two share major components including some of their engines. A part that fits a Malibu may also fit a G6, and that also means that a shop servicing Chevy models can handle Pontiacs.

Things get tricky when a vehicle doesn’t share its underpinnings with a model developed by an automaker that’s still in business. For instance, the Suzuki Kizashi and Isuzu Rodeo were developed by automakers that no longer have a dealership network in the U.S. for their car business. Though Suzuki still sells motorcycles here, they’re not going to work on your Rodeo. You may have to find a local mechanic familiar with these models. In some cases, it may be worthwhile to join a make or model-specific car club for your discontinued vehicle to help source hard-to-find parts, and get maintenance tips.

How to stay on top of recalls and service bulletins

Staying on top of recalls and service bulletins is as simple as locating your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). It’s located along the bottom half of the windshield or on a metal plate on the driver’s side door jam. Once you have it, go to and enter your vehicle’s VIN. You’ll immediately see any recalls related to your specific vehicle. If you’re buying a used car from a discontinued brand, insist on a car history report to ensure the vehicle received proper maintenance and any necessary recall work.

What happens to the warranty?

Most discontinued car brands we’ve discussed are well past any basic- or powertrain-related warranties. However, when a brand closes its doors, its warranty doesn’t necessarily disappear. This obligation often means warranty servicing is transferred to another location capable of handling the work.

For example, General Motors (GM) says that Pontiac, Saab, and Oldsmobile owners can visit Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC dealers. The same is true for Scion owners, who could fall back on Toyota’s extensive dealer network. In fact, some Toyota dealers even advertise that Scion owners can use their services.

Things become more complicated when an entire dealership network shuts down, as with Isuzu and Suzuki. Multi-brand dealerships where your car’s brand once existed may be able to handle maintenance needs without you having to drive miles out of the way or even change service centers. In time, however, it might be necessary to source a specific shop with technicians familiar to your specific discontinued car brand.

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Nick Kurczewski
Nick Kurczewski is a freelance automotive journalist based in the New York metro area. With approximately 20 years of experience, he has covered all aspects of the car world, from the pit lane at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to car shows around the world, and a Zamboni lesson in Lower Manhattan. He’s also adept at providing helpful car advice and steering people towards the ideal car, truck, or SUV for their driving needs.