When It Makes No Sense To Buy a Used Pontiac

Pontiac's Demise Makes It a Mistake in Most Instances

1965 Pontiac Bonneville
Archive Photos / Getty Images

With the demise of Pontiac as a brand by GM in October 2010, there is no good time to buy a used Pontiac, except in one case.

Even though the Pontiac Firebird, and Trans Am are among the all-time classic American cars, Pontiac is no more, one of four brands killed off after General Motors declared bankruptcy. The others were Hummer (discontinued in February 2010); Saturn (October 2009); and Saab (June 2012). The days of the sleek, high-performance muscle cars of the 1960s or 70s are long gone, but should you still consider buying a used one of the newer models?

Reduced Resale Value

After Pontiac’s demise, the value of its vehicles (new and used) began to plummet. Good luck getting anywhere near the value of your used Pontiac when it comes time to sell.

Depreciation of Pontiac Cars
Car 2009 book price 2018 Kelley Blue Book
2009 G8 GXP Sedan with 50,000 miles, and very good condition $37,000 $27,000
2009 Pontaiac Vibe GT Sports Wagon with 50,000 miles and very good condition $25,000 $4,500
Compare depreciations for used Pontiacs

Depreciations tend to vary greatly, given the state of the car. The average price of a Pontiac G8, according to the Gar Gurus, is around $12,000 and slowly slipping away.

Financial Institutions May Not Be Welcoming

The dealer network has disappeared and the cars are no longer under warranty and will be even more difficult to get fixed. Resale values are weak. Good luck getting anybody but a sub-prime lender to back your loan. Count on paying a ridiculously high interest rate even if you have good credit.

Very Few Good Pontiac Cars at the End

Obviously, one of the reasons the brand was discontinued is, they just weren't very good cars, to begin with. However, a lot of people raved about the Pontiac G8. So, a used G8 might be a good value, but apart from that (and perhaps the Vibe), Pontiac didn't produce a car in its last 10 years worth owning. None of the G-series is appealing, and the Solstice was an over-hyped vehicle from the start and it had a convertible top that was simply infuriating to use. The Pontiac GTO was appropriately nicknamed the Goat. The Pontiac Aztek has been the punch line to endless numbers of jokes.

By the way, Consumer Reports largely agreed. Out of its 36-member “Worst of the Worst Used Cars” in 2009, three were Pontiacs: Pontiac Aztek; Pontiac G6 (V6); and, Pontiac Montana. So, don’t take my word from it. Those guys at Consumer Reports know a thing or two about cars.

Your Friends Will Laugh

Let’s face it. Buy a used Pontiac and, unless you can produce a bill of sale showing you saved 30 percent or more, your friends are going to question your judgment. They’ll whisper behind your back, “Did you hear he a bought a used Pontiac? And he seemed like such a nice person.”

Unless You Plan on Running it Into the Ground

Then you don’t have to worry about resale value. Take the Grand Prix. It’s going to serve you well as solid Point A to Point B transportation. It can seat five adults comfortably and its trunk is spacious.

There is one Pontiac that Consumer Reports recommended: the Pontiac Vibe. The Vibe never made my heart go pitter patter but it is a good practical used car that you should be able to run into the ground.

Our new car reviewer Aaron Gold had this to say, "Pontiac's Vibe is all-new for 2009. Though the wedge-shaped roofline and 5-door "wagonette" body style hark back to the first-generation Vibe, the new car is an up-to-date package that's strong on safety, practicality, and versatility. As you can tell, I really liked it."

It’s basically a kissing sister of the Toyota Matrix. Here's what Aaron had to say about that car (at least the 2005 model). "Though mechanically identical to the Vibe, the Matrix has different sheet metal, which has been updated for 2005. The wedge shape of the side windows is one of the features that sets it apart from the Pontiac."

You Can Save A Lot of Money

Since the dust has cleared and the depreciation has been in effect for most of a decade, you can find out what the used cars are worth, by using the various car comparison websites.

Always be leery when you're dealing with private Pontiac owners. Make sure any pre-purchase inspection was especially thorough. People losing money on their used cars rarely impart a lot of tender loving care on them.