Buying a vehicle should be a great period in your life. You get more freedom and can be reliable to take longer trips or find a better job. However, there is always a chance you can buy a vehicle with a significant defect. In light of that possibility, we will highlight things to know before you go car shopping. When a trip to the grocery store is out of the question and you have to bother someone else for a ride to work, it is time to figure out the best way to get a vehicle that is reliable and on the road.
Here are 10 tips for avoiding the purchase of a lemon vehicle:
- Do your Research
Read reviews of the car you’re interested in and talk to people who own one. When buying a car, it is important to do your research and be aware of the potential issues with each make and model. Here are some tips for researching the type of car you want to purchase, other models in the same price range, and any potential issues with each make and model:
- Define Your Needs and Budget: Start by clearly defining your needs and priorities. Consider factors such as your budget, the primary purpose of the vehicle (commuting, family, off-roading, etc.), fuel efficiency, safety features, and the number of passengers you need to accommodate.
- Online Resources: Begin your research by exploring various online resources. Visit automotive websites, forums, and review platforms to gather information about the specific type of car you’re interested in.
- Compare Models: Look for car models that fall within your budget and meet your requirements. Make a list of these models to compare their features, specifications, and pricing.
- Read Reviews and Ratings: Read reviews from automotive experts and user ratings on websites like Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, Consumer Reports, and Car and Driver. These reviews can provide valuable insights into the pros and cons of different models.
- Safety and Reliability: Check safety ratings and reliability reports for the models you’re considering. Organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provide safety ratings, while reliability data can often be found in consumer surveys and reports.
- Cost of Ownership: Consider the total cost of ownership, which includes expenses like insurance, maintenance, fuel, and depreciation. Some cars may have a lower purchase price but higher operating costs, so it’s essential to factor these into your decision.
- Visit Dealerships: Visit local dealerships to see the cars in person, sit inside, and take them for test drives. This hands-on experience can help you get a feel for the car and its features.
- Talk to Owners: Connect with current owners of the models you’re interested in. They can provide valuable insights into real-world ownership experiences, including any issues they’ve encountered.
- Check for Recalls and TSBs: Research whether the models you’re considering have been subject to recalls or have any common technical service bulletins (TSBs). This information can reveal potential recurring issues.
- Consider Fuel Efficiency: If fuel economy is a concern, research the miles per gallon (MPG) ratings for both city and highway driving. Compare different engine options and consider the cost of fuel in your area.
- Environmental Impact: If environmental concerns are important to you, research the eco-friendliness of different models. Look for hybrid or electric options and check emissions ratings.
Conducting comprehensive research increases your chances of making an informed decision when purchasing a car that meets your needs, fits your budget, and minimizes potential issues in the future.
- Get a pre-purchase inspection from a mechanic you trust.
Don’t hesitate to consult with automotive experts or seek advice from trusted mechanics. They can provide additional insights into the reliability and maintenance costs of different makes and models. This will help you identify any potential problems with the car before you buy it.
- Don’t buy a car from a private seller if you can avoid it.
There are no warranties and no guarantees with a private seller. There is also a higher likelihood they are hiding something to get the vehicle off their hands and into yours so you have to deal with the issue. While it may seem like a great deal and that the person isn’t feeding you what you want to hear, that may not be the case.
- Be wary of cars that are being sold for a lot less than they’re worth.
Consider the long-term resale value of the car. Certain brands and models tend to hold their value better than others, which can affect your overall cost of ownership. If the dealer or owner is selling it for a lot less than they should be asking, it’s time to ask some questions of your own.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law claim questions, click here.
- Don’t sign anything until you’ve read it carefully.
There can be a lot of things hidden in the small print. That means, if you do take the vehicle home and discover it’s a lemon, you might not be covered. Make sure you read carefully before you put your signature on anything.
- Get everything in writing, including the terms of the sale and the warranty.
If a vehicle in Texas is covered by an original warranty, that makes it eligible for a Texas lemon law complaint. However, if you don’t have the terms of sale and warranty information in writing, the case may not go in your favor. Having documentation of all of the important details of the sale and the issues at hand go a long way to helping resolve the problem more quickly.
- If you’re not sure about something, ask questions.
Don’t assume and don’t just decide you’ll figure it out later. If you have a question that could determine whether or not you buy a vehicle – ask it right then.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if you’re not comfortable with it.
There are deals that are too good to be true because the vehicle will have something wrong in the very near future. If you aren’t comfortable with a deal, then go home and try again another day (and probably at another dealership).
- If you do buy a lemon, know your rights and how to get help.
Look into the lemon law in your state. The Texas Lemon Law, for example, is handled by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. If your vehicle meets a specific set of criteria and passes the tests, you have the chance to get restitution in some form.
- Don’t be afraid to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or your state’s attorney general’s office.
Pursuing legal avenues that are open to you mean you have a better chance of having an issue with your vehicle resolved in a timely manner. The Better Business Bureau is a good starting point. Calling your state’s AG is another good place to start. You may have to pursue other avenues, depending on how your state handles lemon cases.
However, you won’t know the right path until you start reaching out and asking for help.
With over 100,000 lemon vehicles sold each year in the US, it can be a challenge to avoid buying a lemon. However, with the right information, you can reduce your risk of being saddled with a problem car.