How to Avoid Buying a Lemon Car

How to Avoid Buying a Lemon Car

March 21, 2024

Are you looking to buy a used car but worried about getting a bad one?

We've all heard stories of people buying cars that turn out to be lemons - ones with problems that cost a lot to fix or can't be fixed at all. Buying a bad car could mean spending a ton on repairs you didn't plan for.

Keep reading to find out how to avoid getting stuck with a lemon and decide if it's worth the risk.


Here are six ways to avoid buying a lemon car:


1. Get a vehicle history report

When considering a used car for purchase, your first step should be to request a vehicle history report (VHR).

Many sellers offer VHRs for free upon request, while private companies like AutoCheck or Carfax may provide additional details such as accident and repair history.

A VHR not only provides essential information like the car's year, make, and model but also helps identify potential warning signs in its history. These may include past accidents, insurance claims, manufacturer recalls, changes in ownership, or discrepancies in odometer readings.


2. Check the interior and exterior

Take a peek inside the car by opening the door and hopping in. Look around at the seats, dashboard, roof, and floor. Keep an eye out for any stains, cracks, or tears. Sit in the driver's seat and give the seatbelt a tug; it should be sturdy without any damage.

Now, check out the outside of the car. Look closely for any dents, scratches, or rust spots. Test each door to make sure they open and close smoothly. Take a look at the tires too. Check if they're worn out evenly; if not, it could mean the car's alignment is off.


3. Visit a mechanic

If you're seriously considering buying a car, it's a good idea to take it to a reliable mechanic for an inspection. Schedule a test drive and bring the vehicle to their shop. An independent and trustworthy mechanic can thoroughly check various aspects of the car, including the engine, exhaust system, and brakes. They have the expertise to identify problems and diagnose issues that you might not notice on your own.


Read: The Importance of Pre-Purchase Inspection for Your Car


4. Go for a test drive 

Many car issues become obvious when you're driving. The car should start right up when you turn the key. Take the car for a spin at different speeds and on different roads to check the acceleration, suspension, and brakes.

Listen closely for any strange noises like knocking, grinding, or whining, which could mean engine or transmission problems. Brake squealing or loud air rushing are also signs to watch out for.

A musty smell could mean there's water damage inside, while a burning or acidic smell might indicate engine trouble. Check the oil by rubbing a bit between your fingers; if you feel grit or metal flakes, it could be a sign of engine bearing damage.

Test out all the car's features, including the air conditioning, heater, radio, headlights, turn signals, interior lights, Bluetooth systems, windows, and power seats.


5. Avoid “As is” sales

Stay away from cars labeled as "sold as-is." This means the seller is not responsible for any issues with the car once it's sold. It's a warning sign that there might be significant problems the seller doesn't want to reveal, potentially turning the car into a lemon.

When you buy a car "as-is," you're taking full responsibility for any problems it has. Sellers usually use this label when they know there are issues they don't want to deal with. It's usually a wise choice to avoid these cars, as they could end up costing you a lot of money in repairs.


6. Check dealership reviews

Checking dealership reviews is an important step when buying a used car. Before making a decision, take some time to research the dealership. Read reviews from other customers to get an idea of their experiences with purchasing a used car from that dealer.

Nowadays, there are many ways to find the perfect car. But trusting experts like the team at Approval Genie can make your choice safer. We'll make sure your new or used car isn't a lemon. Whether you're selling your old car or buying or leasing a new one, we're here to help you through it all.

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