4 Strategies to Make Sure You Aren’t Buying a Lemon

When you are making the decision to purchase a car, you want to trust that you won’t be sold a vehicle that has chronic issues that cannot be fixed. While California’s Lemon Law protects consumers if they end up with a lemon on their hands, let’s take a closer look at some strategies you can use to avoid buying a lemon in the first place. According to  Consumer Reports, there are thirteen tricks to determining whether a car may be a lemon—let’s examine four of them more closely. 

Strategy #1: Do Your Research

Before you head to the car lot, familiarize yourself with different manufacturers and models so that you have an idea of those that may be more prone to significant issues. There are many online resources out there that provide rankings of the most reliable vehicles and the most troublesome. Once you have narrowed down your top picks for vehicles, you can feel more confident that you will be purchasing a more reliable vehicle that is less likely to turn out to be a lemon. It’s also wise to check whether any recalls were issued. The  National Highway Traffic Administration is a great resource for determining whether there have been any issues with the type of vehicle you are considering purchasing.

Strategy #2: Take a Look Under the Hood

Even if you are not an expert in what cars should look like, there are some key issues to look for before you finalize your purchase. When you look under the hood of the car, make sure there is no (or very little) corrosion. If you see any wet spots, these could be signals of leaking fluids or oil. Any belts or hoses should look relatively clean and unworn. It’s also a good idea to take a look at the oil itself—if you find it to thin or frothy, there may be issues with a blown head gasket or other blockages or damages. 

Strategy #3: Examine the Steering

Many cars that turn out to be lemons suffer from steering issues. As you examine the idling vehicle, move the steering wheel to the left and then the right, making sure there are no obvious issues (such as clunking noises or slack). When taking the vehicle for a test drive, watch for any alignment problems or issues with the steering wheel, such as excessively shaking or shuddering. 

Strategy #4: Consult a Mechanic

Before you finalize the purchase, you can have a qualified mechanic do a diagnostic evaluation of the vehicle. This process typically costs about $120, and it gives you a better sense of any potential issues the vehicle may have. An inspection often gives consumers more confidence and reassurance about making their purchase, as an inspection that uncovers no major issues increases the chances that your vehicle will not turn out to be a lemon.

Want to learn more about California lemon laws? Lemon Law Partners, LLP is committed to assisting consumers in the Oakland or Greater Bay Area with their lemon law cases. Call (510) 944-0336 today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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