Spotting a Lemon

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 21, 2009)

Have you ever purchased a new (or new for you) car, and after you get home—or even just off of the lot, find that it just won't work anymore? If you have, then you know the joys and pains of having purchased a lemon. But, how can anyone protect themselves from buying one of these defective vehicles? The answer is easy, you have to learn how to spot a lemon, which only sounds harder than it really is. In order to spot a lemon, there are a few things that anyone can do, all of which boil down to just doing some simple homework.

  • Check model history: One of the easiest ways to check to see if the car that you are going to be purchasing is a lemon, is to check into the model's history. Informational sources such as the Kelly Blue Book, and Car and Driver magazine, has statistical records as to the reliability of the model. Now, while it is true that you cannot base your decision simply off of what the model history is, you can get a fairly accurate description. If there is a large history of problems for a specific model, then chances are that you can expect to have similar problems with the car that you are researching.
  • Get a CarFax history report: By simply getting a CarFax history report (which is going to cost you about $30.00) you can be pretty much guaranteed to have almost all of the vehicles history at your finger tips. At least among the major informational categories, such as if the car was stolen, ever been in a wreck and so on. In order to take advantage of such information, you are going to need the vehicle's identification number (VIN) and a secure credit card (one that you do not mind using online). This is typically something that you are wanting to use if you are purchasing a used car, since most lemon laws do not cover used cars. If you take a look at the stickers on a used car (if you are purchasing from a dealer) then you are going to notice that chances are it has a little box marked that says "As Is." If that box is marked, and you purchase the vehicle, then you are agreeing to the current condition of the vehicle.
  • Mechanic examination: If you are purchasing a used car, then you are entitled to have your potential purchase examined by a mechanic. If you don't want to take a mechanic along, since it tends to cost money, then you just need to know what to look for. The easiest way is to keep an eye out for unexplainable wear and tear, mismatched paint job, and so on. While it may not be 100% accurate of test, it is something that can give you a fairly good idea of what to expect.

In short, what the buyer needs to keep in mind is that old phrase, "Let the buyer beware."

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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