Is two years on the lot too long, for a new car?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 2008

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm interested in purchasing a new, 2006 Dodge Sprinter with a 2.7-liter diesel engine. It has 75 miles on it, and has been on a dealer lot, unsold, for two years. The dealer offers a full three-year/36,000-mile warranty, and it is fully loaded with everything I need. I use an electric wheelchair and need an "accessible" vehicle. I have always used Ford Econoline vans. However, the Sprinter will cost less, give me double the mileage and is just a cool vehicle. Oh, it also can use biodiesel, according to the dealer. Should I buy a vehicle that's been sitting on a dealer's lot for two years? I love it; I just need an objective opinion. -- Katie

TOM: We'll give you two objective opinions, Katie. I say, go for it.

RAY: Me, too.

TOM: I wonder why it's been sitting there for two years. Is it Day-Glo orange or something? In any case, you should be able to get a great price on it, and the only parts that really degrade while sitting on the lot are those made of rubber.

RAY: Right. Ozone in the air breaks down rubber over time. So, things like the weatherstripping around the doors may last, say, eight years instead of 10. The only rubber parts that are worth worrying about now are the tires and belts.

TOM: Other than that, and some faded paint (which might be a blessing if it's Day-Glo orange), this van should be as good as new.

RAY: It's a nice vehicle. It has several advantages over standard Ford and Chevy vans. It has a five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (the newer ones now have six cylinders), which gets very good mileage, and with its raised roof, there's room to stand up inside it -- which is probably great for anyone helping you with your wheelchair.

TOM: So, ask for a new set of tires and a change of belts. The dealer probably will be happy to throw those in, just to get this eyesore off his lot after two years. And you'll have a great vehicle. Enjoy it, Katie.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One