How to Avoid Buying a Lemon When Shopping for Used Cars

When shopping for used cars, you’re bound to run into a lemon or two. But how can you recognize when you’re dealing with a lemon, so you can avoid making a bad investment? 

Start with a pre-sale inspection from Rob’s Auto! We want to make sure you’re confident that you’re getting the best deal before you leave the dealership, so our automotive experts will be more than happy to inspect your car before you buy it. Plus, we hold a dealership license, so we can even run a CARFAX as part of the service. 

For those unfamiliar with the term, a lemon is an automobile with a substantial defect that downgrades its value, safety, and utility. Major defects include: 

  • Brakes
  • Wheels
  • Engine
  • Suspension
  • Transmission
  • Electrical System
  • And more

These problems are not overwhelmingly obvious right away; they usually appear within a short time of purchasing or leasing the car. 

Luckily, the auto collision repair and service specialists at Rob’s Automotive & Collision Center in Bristol, PA, have seen plenty of lemons. We can teach you exactly what to look for when shopping for used cars!

Check the Dealership’s Reputation

The easiest thing you can do is shop at a reputable used car dealership. Make sure the seller has your best interests in mind by doing your research beforehand and checking out reviews left by previous customers on Yelp, Google, DealerRater, and other review websites. This will save you a lot of hassle down the road and ensure you have an overall smooth car shopping experience. 

Read the Window Stickers

The window sticker offers a wealth of information that can help you determine whether the car is a good investment or not. It tells you the basic model information, the standard equipment included in the vehicle, the warranty information, where the vehicle was manufactured, the fuel economy, the safety features and ratings, the total price (MSRP), and so much more!

Of course, none of this information will tell you whether the car is a lemon or not, but it does cover one important thing: warranty. Any vehicle that is being sold “as is” absolves the dealership of any responsibility regarding repairs for problems that may arise as soon as you drive off the lot. 

Perform a Visual Inspection

Before you take the car on the road, you’ll want to perform a visual inspection of the exterior, the interior, and under the hood. Begin by walking around the car and looking for any damages to the body — dents, peeling paint, broken lights, mismatched parts, worn-out tires, and inconsistent gaps. 

Then, look inside the car for signs of damage as well. Is the car in generally good condition, or are you noticing that you’ll have to make repairs? Turn the car on and look for dashboard lights that indicate the car is in need of service. 

Finally, take a look under the hood. Are the fluids clean and filled to the proper levels? Does the battery or engine show signs of corrosion? Is anything leaking? Are there any worn hoses, belts, or wires? 

Take it for a Test Drive

You won’t know for sure what kind of car you’re looking at until you take it for a test drive. And we’re not talking about driving around the parking lot for a few minutes. Ask the seller if you can take the car on the road, so you can get a good feel for how it drives. Here’s what you should look for during a test drive. 

Delve Into the Vehicle History

When you find a car you really like, it can be easy to get caught up in everything the car has to offer. However, you haven’t finished doing your homework quite yet. The vehicle history can paint an accurate picture of your car’s past. All you have to do is visit a vehicle history site, such as CarFax or AutoCheck, and type in the car’s VIN number. You will automatically get access to the car’s most important details and learn about its past performance, maintenance, damages, and more.

Call Your Trusted Mechanic

Most importantly, make sure to get your car inspected by an auto repair specialist who is not associated with the dealership before you sign the contract. A professional second set of eyes can help you identify any mishaps that you might have missed. Rob’s is certified by 14 major manufacturers, so our technicians are experts at spotting lemons, and we’ll always give you an honest recommendation.

There you have it! With this guide in hand, you can go forth and buy the used car of your dreams without having to worry about getting stuck with a lemon. For more information, please contact our auto or truck repair service specialists today!