How to Spot if a Used Car Is a Lemon
Purchasing a car can be a nerve-racking experience. If your budget is limited, or you want to avoid the rapid depreciation of a new vehicle, you might consider looking into used cars. One of the few potential downsides of purchasing a pre-owned vehicle is getting one that turns out to be unreliable and in need of expensive repairs – or a lemon.
Fortunately, there are plenty of signs that can indicate the car you’ve been eyeing is a lemon.
To help you with your vehicle shopping experience, we have complied a list of the most common lemon signs to look out for.
- Vaguely Written Ad
- Mismatch Paint Work
- Misconfigured Body Parts
- Mismatched or Worn-Out Tires
- Suspicious Interior
- Faulty Suspension System
- Manipulated Odometer
Vaguely Written Ad
Ads are supposed to paint the most glowing possible image of a product or service to increase the chance someone will buy it. A car ad doesn’t have to be immaculate, but it should sound professional and contain as much information about the car as possible.
The ad should highlight the car’s best features but also disclose any problems that it has, such as damage or if it’s been in an accident. It’s usually a good sign if the seller explains the reason behind selling the car. An ad that is vague or focuses only on the car’s highlights could be a sign the vehicle has some underlying issues, and the offer is not as good as it sounds.
Mismatched Paint Work
If you walk around the vehicle and notice spots that are slightly different in color, appear faded or are freshly painted, this might mean the car was in an accident and the owner tried to cut corners instead of fully fixing it. Any car with hidden accident damage is best avoided. Plus, fixing mismatched paintwork can get expensive so unless you want to incur additional costs, you are better off continuing your search.
Misconfigured Body Parts
When inspecting a used car, be mindful of any misaligned parts, including irregularities in the alignment of body panels, car doors, hood gaps and trunks. While many sellers will try to downplay these issues and pass them off as minor and harmless aesthetic deficiencies, this might be far from true.
Misconfigured body parts are a major red flag and indicate that the car was most likely involved in a major accident.
Mismatched or Worn-Out Tires
Tires are the proverbial windows into a car’s soul. You can gather a lot of information about the condition of a used car just by looking at its tires. The first thing you should check is if the tires are uniform. In other words, if all four tires are the same size and brand. Uniform tires ensure optimum stability and control of the car.
Moreover, worn-out tires could indicate heavy wear on the vehicle and poor maintenance. Also, if you notice cupped tires, this usually means problems with brakes, suspension or steering.
Just like exterior features, the car’s interior can also give you many clues about the condition it is in.
If you spot any discolorations and stains inside the car, it might indicate that it was flooded in the past. Conversely, if you notice an interior that has brand-new upholstery, it can also indicate that the seller is attempting to cover up water damage.
Faulty Suspension System
When you take a used car for a test drive and notice things like difficulty steering, continued bounding after hitting bumps or drifting when turning corners, these may be signs of serious suspension problems.
You can check the car’s suspension by pushing down on the fenders and then letting go quickly. The car should rebound softly once or twice. If it rebounds more than twice, the suspension probably needs some major repairs, which the seller might not be willing to pay for.
A used car with relatively low mileage can be a great deal. A car that is low in miles means that it hasn’t been driven much and has plenty of life left in it.
Be warry of sellers who purposely tamper with a car’s odometer. Unscrupulous resellers might go to great lengths to manipulate the numbers so that the car shows low mileage.
If the car is older and displays a lot of wear and tear, but the miles don’t match the appearance, save yourself the headache and look for a different seller.
Do Lemon Laws Apply to Used Cars in Maryland and Virginia?
Lemon laws vary by state and can be nuanced and convoluted. Even if you believe that the used car you purchased is a lemon, the law might say otherwise. You might have to complete several steps before you can file a formal complaint.
Get a Great Used Vehicle from Easterns Automotive Group
Why put yourself through the stress and hassle of purchasing a used car from a questionable seller? At Eastern Automotive, every vehicle on our lot has passed a rigorous multi-point certification check so you can shop with confidence.
If you’re looking for a quality car and a stress-free experience, call us at (877) 867-0641 or visit one of our dealership locations.