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How to Tell the Difference Between a Good Car and a Lemon

ByDave Stopher

Sep 22, 2020 #North East

The car buying process can be a long and arduous one. There is a lot that goes into finding the right car and it can take a lot of patience to truly feel like you have found the vehicle that checks off all, or most, of your boxes. The thing about car buying is that you have a lot of options, and it has never been better for consumers looking to buy a car because of the depth of manufacturers and models that are not available. 

Even with the big focus on giving car buyers more choice now than ever, and the extensive list of buying guides and car report sites, there is still a lot of uncertainty about finding the right car. There is a term for a bad car that seems like a good choice but is a dud and that is called a lemon. Even the most seemingly perfect cars can turn out to be a let down because of the manufacturer’s faults, but the point is that it is important to know how to spot a lemon while car shopping. Wasting tens of thousands on a money pit car is not ideal, and here is how to determine if your next car is good or not.

Research Any Recalls and Technical Bulletins

Recalls happen often for minor issues with cars all the time. It could be a small thing like a loose panel on the dashboard, or it could be something serious like an airbag recall. These announcements could be a plant-specific issue or it could be indicative of a more serious problem with the actual model of the car itself. Checking recall notices, which are mailed or emailed to owners of these cars, along with technical bulletins (or known as a technical service bulletin, TSB), can help you avoid spending money on a car that has issues that result in maintenance. These fixes are covered by manufacturers through a certified dealer, but it can be a big nuisance to constantly be having to bring your car in, and potentially dangerous for a recall on faulty brakes.

Check the Car’s Vehicle History

The vehicle history of a car is a great way to check if it has an extensive history of problems. This is something that is especially important for buying a car used. There can be a lot of uncertainty over the car’s past if you buy it used because there are not a lot of ways to tell if the car has prior damage without seeing physical issues. The folks behind https://www.carhistory.online/ insist on checking the vehicle’s history to help you avoid purchasing a car that has had issues, or is likely to have issues. The information that can be found in a car history includes accident reports, odometer readings, fire or flood damage, and any criminal history regarding the vehicle. It is not a perfect measure of a car’s lemon status, but it is important to know what the vehicle has been through to influence your purchasing decision.

Reliability Reports and Rankings

As with nearly any consumer product, there are a lot of lists and reports that rank their quality against the competition and determine the best choices for buyers. These buyer’s guides are very popular in the world of automotive as car buying is a serious financial decision. Spending tens of thousands on a car means having a significant amount of research from experts in the field to help you determine things like resale value, durability, comfort, performance, and usage potential. Reliability reports and consumer reports are good for figuring out from the people who know best what is worth a purchase. Of course, you want to cross-reference a lot of the information so that you are not zeroed in on a potentially biased report and see what the most common problems could be that every review and report mentions, along with the things they like. Using these resources can help you separate a lemon from a good car.

Inspect the Interior 

Aside from reading reports and history, the best way to check your potential car is to do a thorough look around inside. Checking the interior for any loose panels, cracking plastics, damaged stitching on seat material, or other issues is important for checking the quality of the car. These problems are just the start, as a constant airbag light could be indicative of an incident where the bag was deployed, then reinstalled improperly. Water damage can also be evident in the mats or flooring, as well as a mildew smell. The small details of the car can give hints towards whether your car is a lemon or not, so it is good to be thorough when inspecting the inside.

Check the Exterior of the Car

As with the interior, the exterior needs to be properly checked and inspected. You can do a full 360-degree walk around to see if there are any evident problems with the tires, chassis, or undercarriage. Sloppy weld jobs can indicate parts were replaced, and that the repair was not done well. You should check for rust as well as this can be a dead giveaway for a car that is going to be losing its value shortly. Tire axles are another area where cars that are lemons can reveal themselves. Most of the issues are rust related, but lamp housing breaks and paint chipping is another thing to pay close attention to. Give the car some test revs of the engine to see how the exhaust sounds and see if it or the engine emit any smoke or smells.

Picking the right car for you is not the time to be rushing through your decision. When you want to find the best possible ride for your work life, or commuting, or adventuring, or whatever you need it for, you want to be confident that you found the vehicle that is going to meet and exceed your needs. The opposite of this car is known as a lemon, and these cars stink. Knowing how to tell the difference between a lemon and a quality vehicle is easy when you consider these simple tricks that will save you from headaches and costly mechanic visits.

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