Lemon Law Tips

A Lemon Lawyer’s Tips to Avoid Purchasing a “Lemon”

Published on February 27th, 2018

Buying a “new” or “used” car can be less of a game of chance by following a lemon lawyer’s tips for car buying. These tips are designed to empower you, the consumer, with the information you need to make an educated decision in purchasing the most reliable vehicle possible for your budget.

  1. Do not be hasty. Odds are that you are purchasing either the most expensive or second most expensive item of your life (other than a home), every time you buy a car. While buying a new or used car can be exciting, you should not do so hastily. Don’t let the new car smell or fresh coat of wax blind you to problems that can be avoided. Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a car simply by its shiny exterior.
  2. Research – do your homework. There are many websites available to shop for a new or used vehicle. These days, you can find websites that will not only tell you the dealer’s invoice price for the vehicle, but will also give you quality control ratings or other consumers’ reviews of the same make and model. Before you go to the dealer, be sure to check out some of these websites, such as Edmuds.com, KBB.com, ConsumerReports.org, or CarandDriver.com. Knowing as much as you can about the vehicle you are interested in purchasing will not only help you to select a more reliable vehicle, but will also arm you with knowledge to negotiate a better purchase price.
  3. Test Drive the vehicle. Whether the vehicle is “new” or “used” there is no substitute for test driving a vehicle. For starters, you might find that there are certain characteristics of the vehicle that you simply don’t like. More importantly, you may also avoid purchasing a vehicle that already has a defect or non-conformity. However, make sure your test drive is not merely perfunctory. Tell the dealer you not only want to drive the vehicle on the dealer’s designated route, but that you also want to take the vehicle out on the highway. Be sure to drive the vehicle at different rates of speed and under different conditions to really assess it. Don’t just assume that the dealer has first checked out the vehicle and given it a stamp of approval. All too often, we see examples of problems that occurred when the car was driven off the lot for the first time. A simple test drive could have avoided selecting a car with a defect already manifesting itself.
  4. Check out any “used” car’s title history before purchase. Autocheck.com and CarFax.com are consumer friendly websites designed to provide you with information that has been recorded on the title of any vehicle. For a small fee and by inputting the vehicle’s identification number, you can find out information that has been recorded about a vehicle. Knowing this information will help you to avoid purchasing a vehicle that has been in an accident, flood, or had its odometer rolled back. While these websites are not 100 percent infallible as they rely upon other organizations to provide them with this important data, they are a useful starting point to avoid making a bad purchase.
  5. Avoid buying a “Tricked Out” Vehicle. Many dealers will advertise that a vehicle has a DVD player, enhanced stereo system, custom wheels, or other accessories. Make sure these accessories are factory supplied by the manufacturer of the vehicle. If not, you could be asking for electrical or other problems with your vehicle that won’t be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Every car manufacturers’ warranty that we have ever seen has a section in it that excludes problems that arise due to aftermarket or non-factory supplied components.
  6. Inspect the vehicle in the “daylight.” Even the untrained eye can spot obvious and tell-tale signs of accident damage. However, do your inspection during the daytime. If you arrive at the dealership in the evening, make sure you wait until it is daylight so you can inspect the vehicle. When doing so, look for paint overspray on the trim, headlights, or wheel wells. Look for dents or anything that looks out of alignment. If you see anything that concerns you, it is best to move onto another vehicle. Remember, even cars that are sold as “new” can have damage that occurred in transit from the manufacturer or during a test drive.
  7. Find out the “warranty history” on any “used car” before purchase. Even if you are buying a “used” Ford from a GM dealer or a car from a used car lot, make sure that you know the vehicle’s repair history before you buy it. Every car manufacturer’s dealer has a computer system that can pull up the vehicle’s warranty history report by its vehicle identification number. This report will tell you all repairs to the vehicle that were covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and it will alert you to vehicles that have been subject to repeat or significant issues. While a GM dealer cannot access the history report for a Ford vehicle, the GM dealer can make a phone call for you to get it or put you in touch with someone to get this history. Just like an insurance company won’t sell life insurance without knowing your medical history, don’t let a car dealer sell you a car without knowing the vehicle’s repair history.
  8. Make sure an independent mechanic inspects any “used” car. While a test drive and visual inspection should be good enough before purchasing a “new” car, insist that an independent mechanic inspect any “used” car that you are planning to purchase. If the dealer either refuses to allow your mechanic to inspect the vehicle at the dealer or let you take it for a couple of hours to an independent shop, then it’s time to pick another place to buy your car. Any reputable car dealer should allow for this independent inspection. You will likely have to flip the bill for this cost, but the peace of mind is worth it and no less important than having a home inspector inspect your home before you go to closing.
  9. Warranty, Warranty, Warranty. Any “new” car you purchase will have the manufacturer’s warranty in place that will promise to repair defects in materials or workmanship that arise during the term of the warranty. However, “used” cars are a different story. Do not purchase a car that is sold “as-is.” If the dealer tells you the car is “as-is” they are telling you that they don’t trust it enough to stand behind it, and you are more prone to being stuck with a lemon. Make sure that the dealer provides you with a written warranty that covers the vehicle for at least ninety (90) days. The sale of this warranty will not only provide you with the express protection of what the dealer covers in writing, but will also provide you with certain warranties that are implied in law. In fact, per section 2308 of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, sellers and suppliers of any consumer product are prohibited from disclaiming these “implied” warranties if they enter into a written warranty or service contract with you within 90 days of sale. These “implied” warranties make sure that your vehicle is of the level of quality that you would expect from another one just like it, i.e., that the vehicle is fit for its ordinary purpose. If the dealer won’t stand behind their car in writing for even a modest period of time, they are telling you that they don’t have the confidence that the car will get you home.
  10. Don’t hesitate to use the “Lemon Law.” Despite the above tips that can help to minimize your chances of being stuck with a lemon, not all lemon vehicles can be avoided. Often, a car will drive perfectly for years or thousands of miles before problems arise. Should that occur, state and federal laws provide protection to consumers who are saddled with lemon vehicles. The experienced attorneys at Krohn and Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center ® have successfully represented consumers who have purchased lemon vehicles since 1995. We offer a FREE CASE REVIEW for you to assess whether we can assist you with your matter and a free and quick Lemon Law case evaluator. Please do not hesitate to contact us toll free at 1-800-875-3666 or visit our website at http://www.lemonlawamerica.com.

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