8 Practical tips to avoid a lemon used car16 July 2019
Buying a used car? What should you look out for?
In modern life, we’re programmed to think of “Lemon” as the equivalent of “good”. Lemon cake, lemonade, lemon-scented cleaning products. Lemon generally makes everything better. But they are also associated with sourness, a taste you don’t want to be surprised with. Which is why we refer to used cars that go south fast as “Lemons”. Because you don’t want that sour experience of a breakdown on your way home from the dealership.
The problem is that with modern technology and online tricks, selling a lemon is –in some ways– easier than it has ever been. Fortunately, so is avoiding a lemon if you know what to do.
1) Avoid Unverified Sellers and Sharing-Economy Deals
Never buy from someone you don’t know or don’t have any reason to trust. Even someone with a car lot can be disreputable. But the biggest risk is someone who has no reputation at all. To avoid lemons, it’s usually best to avoid buying a car from a stranger outside the auto industry, say, through the sharing economy. Small-time used car retailers are also suspect unless they have a verifiable and glowing record of customer reviews.
2) Pay for a Detailed Vehicle History
Never trust a used car you haven’t looked up. And for an investment this big, it’s worth it to spring for the in-depth investigation on a vehicle. You may discover that the car has been in one or more serious accidents that could lead to long-term structural problems no matter how shiny it looks right now. Anyone who has been saved by one of these reports can confirm how important they really are.
3) Take a Real Test Drive
Don’t just let the dealer take you on a Sunday-driver route around the dealership on your test drive. Ask for a real test drive, on the freeway or a local access road that approaches at least 100 kilometres an hour. Try it on turns, try it at different speeds, and see how the car would really perform in your day to day life. If the dealer doesn’t let you take a real test drive, walk away. They’re basically saying they don’t trust the car.
4) Look for Warranties
Warranties also go along with the dealer’s trust in the car. Vehicles sold ‘as-is’ without a warranty are vehicles the dealer has no faith in. They might not even get you home. Never buy a used car that comes with less than 90 days of a written warranty. This warranty is to protect you from exactly what you’re trying to avoid: a surprise lemon.
5) Mileage Matters – And Isn’t everything
When it comes to used cars, that odometer does matter. It is the lifespan of a car and the higher the number is, the fewer good kilometres are still left in the vehicle. However, some vehicles are built like tanks, prepared to roll on for decades and hundreds of thousands of kilometres. So odometer matters, but so does quality and the longevity of the vehicle model.
6) Certified Pre-owned is a Sure Bet
If you really want to be 100% sure of a used car you are buying, go for a certified pre-owned. They are slightly more expensive, but they are sold with the dealership itself promising that the car is good to go for another owner. Certified pre-owned vehicles almost always come with pretty nice warranties for a year or more and may also come with dealership packages for free maintenance for some time as well.
7) Bring a Mechanic to Inspect
You don’t have to be a car expert to be sure you’re getting a good vehicle. You can borrow a car expert to provide their expertise for you. Whether you hire a third-party mechanic or have one in the family, ask to have your own mechanic do an inspection of the used vehicle. A dealer who is secure in the vehicle’s quality will allow you to do this to confirm that the vehicle is truly in good condition and ready to drive.
8) Avoid ‘As Is’ and Custom Upgrades
Finally, be wary about custom upgrades and vehicles that are listed ‘as-is’. “as-is” means that the dealer did not try to repair or certify the vehicle in any way. You’re getting it in whatever condition the last owner left it in. Good or bad. And as for custom upgrades, these do not always integrate as well with the car’s electricals as we might hope. A ‘tricked out’ car may look cool, but it can also cause malfunctions down the road.
For more insights on how to be savvy in your vehicle purchases, contact us today!