By on August 5, 2014

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt Kia Store

Are your children about to start college? Maybe it’s their senior year in high school? Looking for a cheap vehicle and don’t mind if it’s been recalled to death by its automaker? Then a vehicle caught up in the General Motors recall parade might be the one, as prices have fallen hard as of late.

Jalopnik reports a study by iSeeCars.com says the six vehicles that kicked off the parade — Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice, Pontiac G5 and Chevrolet HHR — saw their used car prices drop 14 percent between March and June 2014, compared with 6.7 percent for other used vehicles in the same period.

The biggest loss leaders were, of course, the Cobalt and its sister G5, with a 13.7 percent drop in price. That said, if you ever wanted a Cobalt SS coupe or sedan (or XFE for that Prius-esque fuel economy without the hipster connotations), or a Saturn Sky Redline, this might the time to pick one up.

iSeeCars GM Recall Price Drop Average Chart

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38 Comments on “Recalled GM Cars See Bigger Price Drop Over Other Used Vehicles...”


  • avatar

    ISeeCars pitched this story to me, too, but I didn’t write it because it smelled funny.

    I’d be very careful putting much faith in this conclusion until/unless Edmunds or KBB or someone confirms the trend — there’s a certain group of plaintiffs’ lawyers who would very much like this to be true, but it’s at odds with what we’ve been hearing from mainstream sources so far.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Agreed. This seems like a study trying to confirm what the researchers were trying to prove.
      I’d like to see the same study relative to the same cars in 2012. The Cobalts and G5s have always depreciated faster than most of the other cars in their class.
      A quick troll through cars.com this morning has the prices for the Cobalts and G5s in relatively the same place they were when I looked just as the recall was hitting and I thought the prices would tank. I have yet to see any discernible difference in prices from before it all began. Of course, it’s possible the study is right and the sale prices do not reflect the listing prices, but I’m just not seeing any bargains out there.
      I’d pick up a Cobalt SS, but I’d do a complete G5 GT swap since I like the look of the G5 better.

      • 0 avatar

        Anecdotal evidence,but…
        I’ve got a 2005 Saturn Ion,less than 6,000 miles.
        Last summer Edmunds claimed I could get @ $5,000 selling it,w/my options and dinged up body.
        Checking a week ago,it was little over $3,000 selling it. While it’s certainly possible,1 yr and a few hundred miles may lead to a 40% drop,I have my doubts that’s all there is.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          My brother paid $1300 for an 04 Neon SXT/60K otc and put a grand into rocker panels, tires, and inspection. Not sure what you could get for yours, but I do recommend private party vs trade.

  • avatar
    zach

    The Cobalt just looks like a death trap, leave It to GM to worsen the Cavalier.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      That’s because the cobalt has the highest real world fatality rates in its class. In fact, in real world fatality rates GM sweeps most passenger car size classes for the highest fatality rates. The Aveo is the most fatal car in its class, as is the cobalt, as is the Malibu, as is the Lucerne. Not really very reassuring.
      See here: http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr4605.pdf

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Great data. My only nitpick is they base their results on registrations and then compared against production figures. Platform crash test data I think would be more accurate because it shows what the model can theoretically withstand. In this IIHS link, it is claimed Lucerne received a Good on front, but only Acceptable on side and Marginal for head restraint and seats. The MGM Panther received a Good on frontal, but only Marginal on side impact and head restraint. However in the data you cited, the MGM and CV suffer death rates of 57 and 33 respectively for MY05-08. This is being compared against MY06-08 Lucerne and a much higher death rate of 77. However what this data does not tell you is who is registering and driving these vehicles. Panther CV went fleet only in MY07, so both 07 and 08 are fleet only for this model. Both MGM and CV prior to going fleet were purchased by octogenarians and -fleet- so their ownership data will be at two extremes: those who seldom drive and typically drive slower, and those who drive many times the average and may driver at higher speeds. Lucerne AFAIK was never a fleet car (as was DTS) and due to typical GM depreciation many of those examples will end up in the hands of second or third owners quickly. However, who are those owners? What is their age group and socioeconomic status? Their propensity for risk or driving history? In theory the model was slightly better than the Panther according to IIHS, yet suffers a higher death rate. Could its owners simply being engaging in riskier driving behavior, and if the same behavior was performed on Panther (or any other model) its death toll would climb? The same logic applies to Deltas like Cobalt. Good frontal and head restraint, but Acceptable on side with optional airbags and Poor without side air bags. So side impact is a killer on this model. The MY08 Civic performs Good in all categories, yet at 55, it is less than half of the 117 the Cobalt puts up. Are we to conclude that this many *more* Cobalt drivers are dying of side impact collisions? Perhaps the Cobalt is overall twice as dangerous as a Civic? The crash test data does not support such conclusions.

        http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/mercury/grand-marquis
        http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/buick/lucerne

        http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/chevrolet/cobalt-4-door-sedan/2008
        http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/honda/civic-4-door-sedan/2008

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Well said. Demographics is absolutely key in understanding accident and fatality rates. I suspect Civic vs. Cobalt is simply that Cobalts are much cheaper, so are bought by younger people, who tend to have more and more serious accidents.

          As an example, this is a big part of why Volvo 240s always had such great results. After the 70s, it wasn’t really so much that they are amazingly safe cars, but more that they types of people who bought them were exceptionally cautious drivers.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The Civic performed better overall in crash testing, with a lowest score of 4 stars and mostly 5 star ratings while the Cobalt had a lowest score of 3 stars and mostly 4 stars. In offset crashes, the Civic was all good while the Cobalt was acceptable in some areas of evaluation. Your suspicions aren’t supported by the facts.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks. I think demographics are the a big part of the equation and help explain why Civic does so much better in that’s survey vs Cobalt (not only because Civic is the superior performer).

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        Exaggerate much?
        “sweeping”? Hardly.

        These rates have little to do with the safety of the actual vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The fuzzy math continues…or does it?

        http://blog.iseecars.com/2014/03/10/study-buick-beats-out-volvo-to-have-the-greatest-percentage-of-the-safest-vehicles/

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Do you have any experience with a Cobalt to substantiate that? Is there anything I’m missing that makes it look exceptionally like a death trap?

      For that matter, how did they worsen the Cavalier? I owned a Cavalier, and I’ve driven many Cobalts. I liked my Cavalier for what it was, but the Cobalt was more civilised, better, and considerably safer.

      As far as I can see, it’s a remarkably mundane small car, something that when it came out, was exceedingly average. There’s no particular reason to buy one (well, without forced induction), but current recall excepted, just what’s so unsafe about the Cobalt compared to your average mid-2000’s econocar? The Ecotec is a reasonably stout powertrain, and the Deltas seem fairly rust-resistant, so like the J-body before it, they’ll make perfect beaters, being 4-wheeled cockroaches for years to come. There’s worse things for a car to be.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Probably a good time to buy a not-recalled used GM vehicle as well. There will be an overall halo effect with consumers, because people are just that stupid.

    Park Avenue!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      G and W were both recalled for something.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        W, not G yet.

        W was ignition switch related.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The cars being recalled are the:
          Buick Lacrosse MY 2005-2009
          Chevrolet Impala MY 2006-2014
          Cadillac Deville MY 2000–2005
          Cadillac DTS MY 2007–2011
          Buick Lucerne MY 2006–2011
          Chevy Monte Carlo MY 2006–2007

          http://www.gm.com/article.content_pages_news_us_en_2014_jun_0616-recalls.html

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Grand Prix is in there too

            No Bonneville though.

            I’m not sure that article, or any is completely accurate though. There have been issues, as you probably know, with what cars are actually included.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I wonder how the 06 DTS got exempted.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I cannot vouch for the authenticity of articles GM posts on its own website.

            Bonneville, Park Ave, and Lesabre were also G-body. Apparently GM is engaging in a selective total recall.

            @CoreyDL

            MY06 must be the special recall resistant edition.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    That turbo SS is supposedly the best thing since sliced bread to power the front wheels. Interesting proposition.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      A better deal, if you can live with the interior, is the Ion Redline: supercharged so there’s no lag, dead-brand discount and the same chassis.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        There’s a big power difference between the Ion RedLine (and sibling Cobalt SS/SC) and the turbocharged Cobalt SS’s.

        Cobalt 1SS (naturally aspirated): 171hp. (coupe only)
        Cobalt SS/ Ion Redline Supercharged: 205hp/200lb ft (coupe only)
        Cobalt SS Coupe and Sedan Turbo: 260hp/265lb ft.

        If it were my money, I’d be looking for a turbo Cobalt SS Sedan. Only 500 produced so its a commuter car that’ll haul ass with more exclusivity than most Ferrari’s (tounge in cheek)!!!!!

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          It’s pretty simple to change the supercharger pulley on the Cobalt or Ion to get power levels at or above the turbocharged version.

          There are/were factory kits to 260hp, and many people did get it north of 300.

          The Ion Redline was a way, way better car than people gave it credit for.

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            I’d be wary of putting a pulley on a supercharger with high miles (most of the ones I’m seeing are 80k or more) and likely an unknown service history. But that said, I don’t know the reliability history of those superchargers.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Ummmm, the Ion Redline is 205 HP, the Cobalt SS was 260 HP and could be upgraded with a GMPP Stage 1, with fully warranty in effect, for $650 to 300 HP.

        Everything I read said the SS was an amazing car – factoring the power was to the front wheels and the interior was ghastly. Shoot, it even had launch control.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          the Cobalt was 205 when it shared the supercharged engine with the Redline.

          It went 260 when it went to the turbo engine.

          Neither car had launch control, they did have “no lift shift” however.

          • 0 avatar
            missmySE-R

            I own a turbo ’09 SS sedan and my car does have launch control. (See C&D link: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2008-chevrolet-cobalt-ss-short-take-road-test) With the traction/stability control set to the competitive mode, a ‘Launch Control’ message shows up on the dash. The net effect of this is that is allows you to keep the throttle mashed to the floor for the entire acceleration run (shifts included) as the computer modulates the throttle at take-off and while the clutch is depressed during shifting (‘no lift shift’ feature).
            I think I’ve used it all of 2-3 times since, for me, it takes the fun out of actually driving the car.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Missmy
            I stand corrected. I didn’t know they also had launch control.

            Does it actually modulate the throttle or does it just let it rev to 4800 until you dump the clutch?

          • 0 avatar
            missmySE-R

            Poncho,

            Good question about the throttle modulation. The C&D article says that it does but that seems pretty fancy for my working class Cobalt. It’s been so long since I’ve played with the launch control, this now gives me a good reason to check it out to see if I can tell if it’s doing anything more than just limiting max revs before you dump the clutch.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            It absolutely had launch control.

            http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2009-chevrolet-cobalt-ss-sedan-short-take-road-test

            …Like the coupe and the manual-equipped HHR SS, the sedan has Chevrolet’s nifty launch control and no-lift shift features. The former holds rpm steady for a clutch-dumping takeoff, and the latter allows you to keep your right foot planted during shifts for a satisfying pop from the tailpipe and minimized turbo lag on clutch reengagement…

        • 0 avatar
          CoastieLenn

          The Cobalt was 205hp when in the first few model years with the supercharger. The turbo variants got upgraded to 260hp.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Yes, 260hp260trq but with GM’s warranty back tune including no-lift up shifts .to 290hp and Corvette like 340 torque.

          With a 8:20 ‘ring time that stood for half a decade as the fastest.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Excepting the Solstice/Sky, these cars were already unpopular post-bailout, their saving grace was being four cylinders. The minute a brand or model gets discontinued valuation drops 5-10%. I wouldn’t touch the Deltas with a ten foot pole (bc I think they are a POS), but the two Kappas are somewhat attractive price wise as convertibles. Bonus! Both are heavily sourced from the GM parts bin so 10% less unobtanium by volume!

    Additional: Convs are weird. I helped my cousin buy a top trim MY07 G6 hardtop conv in her native Rhode Island because I was able to demonstrate there was only 25% depreciation give or take between this loaded 30K example and a similar less loaded example with then 96K otc. The RI KIA dealer was *retailing* the thing for 14 in 2012 and I found 90K exampled wholesaled for 92 bucks (she paid 12,900). Its still worth at least $10K with the 45K or so on it in the immaculate condition its in.

    MY07 Saturn Sky Conv

    07/11/14 PA Regular $14,000 14,245 Above RED 4G A Yes
    07/29/14 ORLANDO Regular $12,700 33,180 Above WHITE 4G M Yes
    07/16/14 KC Regular $9,700 48,593 Avg BLACK 4G 5 Yes
    07/23/14 NEW MEX Regular $7,100 72,318 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
    07/24/14 FRDKBURG Regular $7,300 85,584 Avg BLACK 4G Yes
    07/24/14 NEVADA Lease $6,000 91,011 Avg GRAY 4G A Yes

    MY07 Pontiac Solstice Conv

    07/15/14 ORLANDO Regular $15,100 2,250 Above GREY 4G A Yes
    07/31/14 TAMPA Lease $10,800 50,131 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
    07/08/14 PENSCOLA Regular $9,400 54,506 Avg GRA 4G A Yes
    07/10/14 SO CAL Regular $10,600 56,810 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
    07/24/14 DFW Regular $7,300 61,687 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
    07/11/14 NEVADA Regular $9,500 66,203 Avg BLACK 4G 5 Yes
    07/10/14 TX HOBBY Regular $4,800 67,092 Below GREEN 4G 5 No
    07/31/14 PHOENIX Lease $7,000 83,851 Avg GRAY 4G Yes
    07/31/14 SO CAL Regular $7,300 85,294 Avg RED 4G A Yes
    07/10/14 EL PASO Regular $5,900 101,355 Avg GREY 4G A Yes

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Huh, I checked local prices and I don’t see these price drops on the Sky or Solstice.

    Humpf.

  • avatar
    icebluerose1

    Just how many recall notices am I going to received telling me my car is unsafe to drive, but the parts to fix the several issues with the 2005 Malibu Maxx are unavailable? I bought this car new in 2005, and GM was aware of this problem with the .57 ignition, airbags not deploying etc..for several years now, and this year (2014), I’ve received several notices that translates to:
    “we sorry, we know we gambled on no one discovering our lack of manufacturing a safe, dependable, quality vehicle, and it caused at least 13 deaths that we’ll admit to, but we don’t have the parts to correct the defaults. However, when the parts become available, we will inconveniently schedule an appointment to repair the life-threatening defaults at our cost”, Well big frigging deal. How generous of you! What is the consumer to do if this is the vehicle used in the daily commute and there isn’t an other available option like public transit? GM could at the least provide (safer) loaners or replace the affected vehicles. This is one of the reasons many American consumers discontinued purchasing American made vehicles several years ago beginning in the eighties in the first place . Just when we thought it was safe to buy American automobiles again, not only is the vehicle unsafe, there’s no consumer resolution unless there’s injury or death. Well you fooled me once, but never again GM. Not only will I not purchase your vehicles, I will prevent anyone else as well and as you know, ‘word of mouth’ is the most effective. I want a resolution to this potentially fatal negligence immediately.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    You could always go out and buy a Honda, their airbags work. The only problem is that their airbags shoot shrapnel at you when they go off and you may lose and eye or bleed out after it gets you in the neck. Of course, they’ve only known about it since 2007.

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