Tips, Tricks & Trends

Consumer Reports Tips To Avoid Buying A Lemon

Buying a lemon is every car buyer’s worst nightmare. A lemon refers to a car that has several defects from the manufacturer that can affect anything from safety to the car’s practicality. There are several laws in place to protect consumers from lemon cars, but the process can be lengthy and leave you without a reliable car in the meantime. Save your self the potential hassle and heartbreak with these tips from Consumer Reports to help ensure you aren’t about to buy a lemon.

Things to check

There are a lot of aspects of a car that many people don’t think to check, or they don’t know what they are looking for when they do check. When in doubt, it is always reasonable to take a car you are looking at to a local certified mechanic for a full inspection. The inspection will typically cost less than $100 but it is well worth the savings if you find something wrong with the car.

VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 19, 2016: A client looks at a used car for sale at the AGAT Profi dealership. Dmitry Rogulin/TASS (Photo by Dmitry RogulinTASS via Getty Images)
A client looks at a used car for sale | Dmitry RogulinTASS

Before you take your car to the mechanic or even head out for a test drive you should do a visual inspection for any obvious damage. Starting from the front, walk around the sides and back of the car and look for any rust spots, scratches in the paint, or dents and dings. Checking the tread on the tires with a quarter is an easy way to see how much life the tires have left, and you should also check the wheels for curb rash.

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The interior should be the next place you check, naturally, and while you’ll be in the driver’s seat to test drive the car, it’s important to check out the back seats as well as the truck. A quick look at the seats can reveal any potential problems like wear and rips, and checking out the dash and door panels will show any potential cosmetic problems.

Vehicle history and recalls

Check the vehicle history for any car is an important part of the car buying process that can save you some major headaches down the road. A vehicle’s history report should show you any reported accidents and insurance claims to bring attention to areas that have been repaired.

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Women walk past cars for sale at a Ford dealership | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A free service that you can access offered by the NHTSA and typically the manufacturing brand directly is the ability to look up recalls and technical service bulletins. You can do this with just the cars VIN which should be provided to you by the dealership or seller.

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Buying a new-to-you car doesn’t have to be stressful and intimidating, and there are a number of resources you can use to help ensure you are making an informed decision.