In order to steer clear of a lemon, it’s important to do your research before purchasing your next car.
Check out these tips to help you avoid the dreaded lemon.
Enjoying a tasty lemon in your water is a starkly different experience than purchasing a lemon for a car! Someone that is uneducated or has little experience shopping for a used vehicle could end up purchasing a lemon that will cost them stress, frustration, and expense as soon as they drive off the lot.
Below are ten tips that could make deciding on your next vehicle easier and make the used car buying experience a much smoother process.
- Do your homework prior to shopping
Just as many parents have said, you must complete your homework before play, and the same goes before buying a used car. In this day and age, it can be incredibly easy to do our homework via the internet. Edmunds.com and Consumer Reports are two highly trusted resources that provide reviews on various car models. Not all cars are created equal, and this is revealed when you study reviews that previous owners have posted. Take your homework process a step further and analyze safety defects and auto recalls on websites such as safercar.gov and nhtsa.gov.
- Visit your trusted mechanic
Hopefully you have one! A reliable and knowledgeable mechanic is a valuable resource, especially for used car shopping. If you have found a used car that you are considering for purchase, have your mechanic check it out thoroughly. The dealership or individual that you are considering buying from should allow this. Otherwise you may want to reconsider your decision!
- Carfax.com is important!
For approximately $45 you can purchase five different reports about a particular car that you are interested in. If a dealer or seller is trying to hide ongoing problems about a vehicle, it is likely to show up in one of these reports.
- Check the window sticker
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires dealers to post a buyers guide for every used vehicle that they have for sale. Often, this means there will be a window sticker on the car that should be reviewed thoroughly. It must list certain points such as if a car is being sold “as is” or if there is a warranty. It must also state if the dealer is paying for any of the repair costs.
- Perform a thorough exterior check
Walk around the entire car and take the time to inspect dents, mismatched paint colors, and mismatched panels that could indicate previous accidents that may not have been disclosed to you.
- Perform a thorough interior check
Look for sagging headliners, cracked dashboards, missing knobs, frayed seatbelts, and prematurely worn pedals. Some of this could also indicate past accidents, and mildew smells could mean water damage.
- Don’t forget under the hood!
Make sure the battery, engine, and radiator are corrosion and grease free. Listen for rattles and strange noises that could mean serious problems.
- Tires are important
According to Consumer Reports, “Wear should be even across the width of the tread and the same on the left and right sides of the car. Tires that are frequently used while over-inflated tend to have more wear in the middle; tires driven while under-inflated tend to wear more on the sides. Heavy wear on the outside shoulder near the sidewall of the tire indicates a car that has been driven hard.”
These can be signs that the car has been driven aggressively and could indicate other issues with the vehicle.
- How’s the suspension?
You can tell if a car has worn shock absorbers or struts by pressing down hard on each fender and then letting go. It should rebound once or twice softly. If it rebounds more than twice, this means the suspension is bad.
- Drive the car!
Whatever you do, DO NOT purchase without test driving the vehicle! Everything may look fine at first, but when you get behind the wheel you notice issues. These issues could include poor handling or even just a lack of comfort.
You work hard for your money and don’t want to throw it away, especially on a car that doesn’t meet your standards. For more peace of mind, consider shopping at a dealership such as Callaway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram that has been serving satisfied customers throughout Fulton and various surrounding Callaway counties for many years. To learn more tips on how to avoid making a poor car purchase, check out our Car Buying Guide.