You can’t always believe the used car you want to purchase was really owned by the little old grandma who bakes cookies for her neighbors and teaches Sunday school classes. Unfortunately, today, you must bite the bullet and make the purchase based on your thoughts combined with any relatives or friends who are looking at the car with you. However, there are eight tips we can look at to hopefully help you to make the best decision. Be aware that a car that is a lemon can also be a brand new car.
When referring to a car that is a “lemon,” it means a vehicle that was broadly misrepresented by the seller resulting in the buyer paying much more for the car than it is worth. The car seems to have one problem after another. Generally, issues are having to do with safety, utility, and/or value. Whether or not you have a lemon can be determined under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, better known as California’s Lemon Law.
If you feel you have purchased a car, that turns out to be a “lemon,” it is suggested you contact your attorney. The law requires the manufacturer to replace your car or offer a refund for the purchase cost if s/he cannot repair it following a reasonable number of attempts.
How To Avoid Buying A Lemon
You should always review as much history as possible regarding the car you want to buy. One of the more popular is Carfax. In recent years more checks are available for consumers such as AutoCheck and Vincheck. Carfax has been around for a long time, and it is also the most expensive to purchase. Some car agencies offer this information as a part of their service. If you are purchasing this service on your own, you will need the VIN (vehicle identification number).
Most reports will offer you essential information about the car’s history. This includes the odometer reading, the status of the vehicle in regards to being in an accident or not, whether the vehicle has a salvage/junk title, prior registration (telling you if it was once owned by a leasing program or a rental car agency). Other information is also provided, and it is all beneficial in helping you to decide between buying the car or not.
Check The Exterior
Walk around the car and look for chipped paint, dents, body parts that do not match, cracked windows, and broken light housing. You can take this a step further by checking to determine if you see gaps from one body panel to the next. If so, this might indicate repair work done following an accident. Take a small magnet and check the steel frame. If there is a filler used to replace damaged, then the magnet will not stick.
Check The Interior
You will want to check for a sagging headliner, a dashboard with cracks, and buttons, knobs, or handles that are missing. High mileage can be determined by worn floor pedals or a sagging driver’s seat. If you notice an airbag warning light that stays lit, this probably indicates the airbag previously deployed and was not properly replaced (or not replaced at all). Use your nose to smell for any smell of mildew or mold.
This indicates water may have leaked inside. Also, check for water leaks. If you notice carpeting that is discolored, silt in different areas, particularly the trunk or electrical problems, these issues suggest damage from water or a flood.
Check The Engine Of The Car
This is an important area to be checked since it is the most crucial part of the car. First, check the radiator and battery to determine there is little corrosion or grease. The belts and hoses should not be hard or too worn. If you see wet spots, these might indicate fluids or oil leaking.
If you notice any electrical wires which have melted, this might suggest a problem with overheating or the possibility of a fire. After the engine has cooled, this is the time to check the fluids to make sure they are all at their proper levels. Also, check for any leaks and make sure they look clean.
Check The Undercarriage
Check the tires for tread wear. Make sure each tire appears to have the same approximate amount of wear. Check to make sure the steering does not have any slack or extra play. Also, push down on each fender to make certain the suspension is good. If the car bounces up and down several times, you will probably need to purchase new shocks shortly after the purchase. However, if the car rebounds once or twice, it is most likely okay.
Check The Exhaust
Press down several times on the pedal. You want to see if black smoke is moving out of the tailpipe. If there is a lot of black smoke, this might indicate a problem with the air filter or some other issue. Beware if the smoke is blue. This suggests that oil is burning, which can result in the engine requiring extensive repairs.
Have It Inspected By A Trusted Mechanic
If you do not know much about cars, then it is to your benefit to have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle. It will cost you money, probably anywhere from $50 to $200 or maybe more. However, you must consider you are preparing to make a significant purchase, and you do not want to make a mistake. Your experienced mechanic will hopefully find all the things that are unfamiliar to you, followed by telling you the true story of the car.
Take It For A Test Drive
You know what you are looking for when purchasing your car. Driving is the only way you get a real feel for the vehicle. This is your only opportunity to make sure it meets your needs. It is also another chance to make certain everything seems to work right. You should not concern yourself with the radio or CD player. You can check them but turn them off during your test drive.
Inside make sure the heater, mirrors, and wipers work, as well as any other features. While driving make sure the ride is smooth, the car handles smoothly, and is easy to drive. Determine that the brakes will bring you to a stop in a reasonable amount of time. Check the instrument panel to see that everything is working properly. Be certain the steering is smooth. If everything meets your needs, it might be time to make a deal!
If you have purchased a car, either new or used, and you are experiencing problems such as the engine overheating, the transmission not shifting properly, or the brakes not working as they should then it is important for you to check California’s Lemon Law and take action!