Car Shopping: How to Avoid Buying a Lemon
Shopping for a used car can be risky. You may end up with a reliable car at an affordable price or, you may wind up purchasing a car that turns out to be a lemon. So, how can you beat the odds, and lower your chances of purchasing that “too good to be true” car deal? We’ve found a few tried and true tips that may give you a leg up in your search.
One of the best ways to avoid buying a lemon is to check to make sure the vehicles doesn’t have any hidden damage or safety issues that could turn your dream ride into an absolute nightmare.
Learn to ask the right questions
Knowing the right questions to ask when shopping for a used car can make all the difference. Here are a few that we suggest:
What’s the mileage and was the car driven for commuting?
Whether you’re buying from a private party or a dealer, mileage is something to consider before signing on the dotted line. Just because a car has low mileage doesn’t necessarily make it a great find. Ask how those miles were driven. If the car was used to commute, even locally, it may have caused more stress on the transmission and brakes. When possible, try purchasing a vehicle that was primarily driven for leisure, rather than for a commute. It may save you a few bucks in maintenance down the road.
Has the vehicle been recalled?
Many vehicles these days have been recalled for a number of things – some more dangerous than others. This may include safety issues with airbags, brakes, and accelerator pedals. Does the work still need to be addressed or have required factory repairs been made? Dealerships will have records of work completed.
What about service records?
Don’t be afraid to inquire if service records are available. They can show proper maintenance of the vehicle from regularly scheduled oil changes to possible engine and transmission repairs.
When working with a dealership – ask to see the Carfax printout. Unless the vehicle is nightmare waiting to happen, a reputable dealer will gladly show you the history. Should he hedge on showing it to you, walk away. You’ll probably be saving yourself a ton of money.
If you’re dealing with a private party who doesn’t have the proper maintenance records, taking the vehicle to a mechanic is your best bet. They can tell you if the vehicle has any issues, which you may want to know before buying.
Make a list of other questions to ask
These are just a few of the many questions you should ask to avoid getting stuck with a lemon, preparing a list of your main concerns prior to looking for a vehicle could save you from a sour outcome.
Inspect the Car Yourself
Check the tread on the tires
The tires can tell you quite a bit about how the car was maintained. If the tread is uneven, this can mean that the car was being driven while being under or overinflated; a sure sign that it wasn’t regularly maintained. This can also mean that other parts of the car were caused unnecessary stress, and may have more wear and tear than anticipated.
Thoroughly check under the hood
There are a few things that you should be looking for when checking under the hood of a used vehicle. Make sure that there are no cracks or tears in any belts or hoses. Make sure the engine is grease free, and keep an eye out for any fluid leaks. These are all sure signs of trouble to come.
Check the car for cosmetic damages
Lastly, you want to check the car to make sure it’s in good condition. Check for scratches in the paint, small dents in the body, and any stains or tears in the interior. With a used car, you won’t get it in perfect condition, but pointing out any small damages can knock a few hundred dollars off of the price in your negotiations so it’s worth noting.
Also, be sure to ask questions when shopping for the right car insurance. Don’t assume you’re already getting the best auto insurance rates. Make sure by receiving a free auto insurance quote comparison today.