How to Tell If a Used Car Is a Lemon

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It may seem as though getting a car that is a lemon is random but it is preventable if you do your research. No matter where you buy a used car, be sure to check it out using the methods below.

Check the Sticker

When you buy a car from a dealer, it has a buyer’s guide sticker. The Federal Trade Commission requires that this guide be included with every car sold by a dealership. It will tell you whether the car is sold “As IS,” which means that there are no guarantees of the condition, or with a warranty. It will also tell you what the major mechanical and electrical systems are in the car and potential problems with those systems.

Examine the Exterior

If you examine the exterior of the car closely, you may be able to see signs of major body work. Look for body panels that don’t match, uneven gaps between parts, and variations in paint color. You want to know if any major body parts have been replaced or repaired.

You can also use a magnet to look for body filler. If you find places where the magnet does not stick, filler could have been used to hide dents or rusty spots. Make sure that all of the doors, hood, windows, locks, and the trunk all work as they should. In addition, check to make sure the tires are evenly spaced. If anything is askew, this could be a sign that the car was involved in a major accident.

Get the CARFAX Report and Take the Car to Your Mechanic

Be sure to get the CARFAX report on the car as it will tell you valuable information about the car’s history. This will include information on any fire, flood, or accident damage and it will verify the odometer setting.

You can also have your mechanic do an inspection to make sure that everything is functional. Mechanics can often perform diagnostic testing for a reasonable fee and it is worth it to know that the car is not a lemon.

When you buy a car, you want it to be reliable and take you where you need to go. Many people spend a good bit of their hard-earned money on their cars and there is little that is more frustrating than ending up with a lemon. Be sure to run through the tips above before you buy a car.

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