What is a Lemon & How to Avoid One

How to Avoid a Lemon

The term “lemon” is one of the most common things you’ll hear when you’re shopping for a cheap used car. A lemon is a car with manufacturer defects that affect its safety, value, and utility. While most tend to be new vehicles, used car lemons can be quite common.

So, what can you do to avoid buying a lemon? Here are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure you drive home in the dependable car you need.

Check the Vehicle History Report

Vehicle History Report

When you’re buying a pre-owned car, it’s always a good idea to check the vehicle history report. It’s available for most used cars and can be one of the most helpful resources for drivers during the buying process.

Using information gathered from U.S. motor vehicle agencies, these reports will be able to help you see if the car you want has been branded a lemon at one point in its life. It also includes details on any reported accident history, service and maintenance history, and even open recall information to help you see just how dependable the vehicle you want really is.

Perform a Visual Inspection

Taking the time to look closely at a used car can give you quite a bit of information regarding its overall condition. In fact, it can even help you determine if it’s a lemon. So, before you drive home, be sure to perform a thorough visual inspection of the car you’ve had your eye on.

Look out for big dents, mismatched body panels, faulty windows and locks, and any other signs of interior and exterior damage. More importantly, you’ll want to take some time to look under the hood, too.

When you pop the hood, take a closer look at the engine, battery, fluids, and any other parts that can affect your vehicle’s overall performance. If you notice signs of damage or faulty parts, the car may not be able to provide the smooth and safe performance you need. You should also check the tires for uneven treads or premature wear.

Schedule a Test Drive

Test Drive a Car

Above all, always schedule a test drive when you’re buying a used car! Getting behind the wheel and experiencing its performance and how all its features operate is the best way to tell if the car you want is dependable or if it’s a lemon.

Here are a few things you should pay attention to when you’re behind the wheel to avoid buying a lemon:

  • Steering response and direction
  • Engine and transmission performance
  • Brake response and stopping power
  • Suspension condition

On top of that, keep your senses open for any odd noises and weird smells during your test drive. If you hear or smell anything out of the ordinary, it could indicate a problem under the hood. 

Ask the Dealership About Safety Inspection Details

Dealerships typically perform an extensive safety inspection before putting any used car up for sale on their lot. If you’ve had your sights set on a pre-owned vehicle at the dealership, ask them about any safety inspections and what each check involved.

At Val-U-Line®, our nationwide dealerships take the time to give each cheap used car on our lots a 360-point safety inspection. It checks just about every performance, design, and comfort and convenient feature for proper operation. Overall, these extensive checks will make sure you’re driving home in a car that best meets your specific needs.

Drive Home in a Dependable and Cheap Used Car

Any car buyer can stumble onto a lemon. However, with the right tips and information, driving home in a dependable used car is a breeze.

For a closer look at our stock of reliable pre-owned vehicles, contact us or visit any one of Val-U-Line®’s nationwide dealers today.