Why you want to buy a used Chevrolet Avalanche

Unique Position Helps Discontinued Pickup Hold Its Worth

2013 Chevrolet Black Diamond Avalanche. (c) GM

The fact that the Chevrolet Avalanche pickup was discontinued after the 2013 model year will not hurt its value. Here's why you want to buy a used Chevrolet Avalanche.

Analysts interviewed for an AutoRemarketing.com article say they will hold their value. It's a sentiment I agree with in spite of the Chevrolet Avalanche becoming an orphan vehicle. That's my term for used cars, trucks, and SUVs that are discontinued by their manufacturers. (The entire Saturn line, for instance, would be considered orphans.)

Typically, when a vehicle is abandoned by its manufacturer (they prefer to use the term discontinued) its resale value drops. There is a perception, rightly so, that the vehicle has diminished appeal because the market no longer wants it to the point that the manufacturer won't build it.

There is also a misguided fear among some buyers that it will be difficult to get parts for a discontinued truck like the Chevrolet Avalanche. That's not going to be a concern because it shares a lot of its underpinnings with the Chevrolet Silverado and the Chevrolet Tahoe pickups.

Alec Gutierrez, Kelley Blue Book's senior market analyst of automotive insights, told AutoRemarketing.com, "In terms of used-car values, I would expect to see values of the Avalanche remain relatively firm. It's a relatively low volume truck with no true substitute available today. Parts availability will not be an issue since it shares so many components with the Silverado and Tahoe."

For its entire 10-year run (not counting this model year), the Chevrolet Avalanche has sold 580,000 vehicles. As GM recounted in a press release announcing the truck's demise, it once had a bright future.

Here is the GM spin on things, "This concept of a well-equipped light-duty pickup that could tow, haul, and carry the family attracted enough interest to generate 93,482 sales in 2003, its third full year of production. Recognizing the appeal of the Avalanche, Chevrolet and other truck makers began developing light-duty crew cab pickups. By 2011, crew cabs accounted for more than 65 percent of light-duty pickup sales, and helped transform the pickup from a workhorse into a true multipurpose family vehicle.

"Through it all, Avalanche retained a core of passionate fans who loved its style, comfort, and versatility. Avalanche was named 2002 Motor Trend Truck of the Year upon its introduction, and 2007 Truck of the Year by the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Avalanche also has been top choice in a number of consumer publications."

In other words, at one point, people really liked the Avalanche. (It's interesting that it could win truck of the year in Canada a full five years after being introduced.) However, the fact that 16% of its sales came in one year of its 10-year run did not bode well. The Chevrolet Avalanche the last two years sold slightly more than 20,000 vehicles.

That largely makes it a niche vehicle, especially compared to overall sales of more than 12 million vehicles in 2011. Niche vehicles aren't affected as much when discontinued, which is why analysts feel bullish about it.

However, that doesn't mean the average buyer can't take advantage of sellers - in this case private sellers. Franchised dealers (in this case Chevrolet dealers) and independent dealers are going to be too savvy but you might gain some headway with private sellers. (Remember, I represent both used car buyers and sellers.)

Private sellers can be swayed to come down on their prices by taking these simple steps.

  • Point out the Chevrolet Avalanche is discontinued.
  • That makes your resale value even lower when the time comes. (Most sellers don't think about potential buyer's resale values. This confuses them.)
  • Play the parts card. Claim it's going to be difficult to find people to work on the truck and to buy parts.

Your honest goal is going to be a 5% to come down on price. Plus, a savvy seller may not buy your line of thinking (especially if he or she has read this article). Don't be afraid to try though. You have nothing to lose and a few hundred bucks or more to gain if everything goes right.