Suzuki Owners: What You Need To Know Post-Bankruptcy
Only the Cars Are Going Away
American Suzuki Motor Corporation announced on November 5, 2012, that it will wind down and discontinue new vehicle sales in the continental U.S. The American subsidiary of the Japanese automaker also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
American Suzuki has struggled in recent years. Through a press release, the company acknowledged that it was facing a number of serious challenges, including low sales volume, a limited number of models in its lineup, unfavorable exchange rates and the high costs of state and federal regulatory requirements.
American Suzuki plans to restructure its business to focus on the more profitable motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle and marine products that it offers.
What does all this mean for current and prospective Suzuki car owners? Here is a list of the most common questions about the issues they face. This is an evolving situation, so the facts could change in the coming weeks and the answers here represent only what's known at this time.
Does My Suzuki Car Still Have a Warranty?
Yes. Suzuki says that all warranties will continue to be honored at Suzuki dealerships. Suzuki vehicles have a three-year or 36,000-mile basic warranty, three-year or 36,000-mile roadside assistance, a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a five-year corrosion warranty for the body panels.
Where Do I Go for Parts and Service?
"All parts and service will be provided to consumers through our planned continuation of a service and parts dealer network," Suzuki said in a letter to consumers.
But in a separate FAQ, the company put some limitations on its position, saying: "We intend to plan to continue to provide parts and service, as long as there is consumer demand, for a reasonable period of time beyond the warranty period."
Edmunds.com tried to reach Suzuki for clarification and was unable to get any further details. If finding factory parts becomes a problem, there are many aftermarket parts makers that consumers can turn to. These parts are readily available at major auto parts chains such as Napa and Pep Boys.
Time will tell if Suzuki dealers can afford to stay in business by relying on parts and service alone. Suzuki's network of 220 dealers is already down from 246 at the start of 2012, according to Automotive News.
A search of dealers on the Suzuki Web site turned up three dealers that already were re-branded and selling Hyundai and Kia vehicles. One dealership reaffirmed that it is still selling Suzuki parts and servicing Suzuki vehicles, however.
This is similar to what happened when Saab declared bankruptcy, as some General Motors dealers continued to service Saabs. If your local Suzuki dealer has switched to sell another automobile brand, don't give up hope. Check with the service department and ask if it will still service your Suzuki vehicle.
Where Do I Send My Monthly Payments?
Consumers who financed vehicle purchases through American Suzuki Financial should continue to make their payments as they normally would. If for some reason American Suzuki Financial ceases to be the lien holder, it would likely notify customers by mail.
Owners who want to maintain their accounts online are being redirected to the main page for Ally Financial. It appears that Ally has taken over the online management portion of Suzuki's finance contracts.
Who Gets My Suzuki Car When Its Lease Expires?
Your lease agreement should indicate where to turn in your vehicle. It is often the same dealer from whom you leased the car. If the dealer is no longer around, call the Suzuki customer hotline at (877) 465-4819.
How Does This Affect My Car's Value?
Every Suzuki model already had a True Market Value (TMV®) of a few hundred dollars below invoice. Edmunds analysts aren't anticipating the fire sales that occurred when Saab went under, since Suzuki vehicles still have valid warranties (whereas Saab vehicles did not).
Edmunds analysts predict that Suzuki dealers will be willing to negotiate lower prices on their remaining inventory. As of October 2012, Suzuki still had more than 5,000 new vehicles on dealer lots. Our analysts say that supply should last into early next year.
No additional incentives were placed on Suzuki vehicles immediately after the company's bankruptcy announcement. The current incentives range from $500 customer cash on a 2013 Suzuki Kizashi to $2,000 on the 2012 Suzuki Equator. Any additional discounts will be at each dealer's discretion.
Prices for used Suzuki vehicles will drop, though not by much. They were already low when compared to the more notable brands.
Is My Car Insurance Affected?
A final note of caution came from the Edmunds forums, where a user noticed an interesting pattern in the insurance prices of vehicles from orphaned brands:
"I'm an independent agent and I represent seven companies that offer personal auto coverage. Two of them have increased premiums substantially for comp and collision on all Saab vehicles...as in 200 percent or more in some cases! All of our companies have increased their rates somewhat on Saabs, but only 25-30 percent on average, so far...the same is true for most Saturn and Pontiac models."
The user predicts that same thing might happen to Suzuki. "Moral of the story," he adds: "Before you buy a Suzuki, call your insurance agent for a quick quote!"