How to Avoid a Lemon: Be sure to check off this list before you buy!

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How to Avoid a Lemon: Be sure to check off this list before you buy!

Buying a used car can be a gamble, and while Indiana has The Motor Vehicle Protect Act, or Lemon Law, it’s not 100% inclusive and isn’t necessarily an easy process. So, it’s helpful to know what to look for in a new-to-you vehicle to avoid the unwanted headache.

Exterior & Interior Body Inspection

Take the time to inspect both the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Make sure to check out these specific issues:

  • Scratched, dents, rust
  • Misaligned or gaping panels
  • Matching paint
  • All doors open and close properly
  • Glass damage
  • Suspension
  • Tire wear and tear
  • Operable lights
  • Leaking fluids

On the inside, be sure to check for:

  • Weird odors
  • The condition of the upholstery
  • Seat mechanics
  • Pedals
  • Electrical issues: instruments and controls and the sound system
  • The condition of the roof

Don’t forget to check the trunk, too!

Under the Hood

Since it is the most expensive part of a vehicle to replace, it’s important to check under the hood at the engine-related components. While dirt and dust are normal, there should be no spattered oil, corrosion (especially on the battery), or loose wires and hoses are not.

Be sure to also check:

  • Hoses and belts
  • Fluids
  • Radiator
  • Battery

If you have an electric vehicle or a hybrid, make sure the battery is completely charged to check driveable range and that it’s charging and discharging properly.

Under the Vehicle

It’s easy to miss issues under a used vehicle, aside from any visible fluid pooling on the ground beneath it. While clear water is most likely AC condensation, anything else is a concern.

Check the tailpipe for residue. Normally, the smudge should feel dry and look dark gray. If it’s darker or feels greasy, that means the vehicle is burning oil. If you can get under the car, you should check for drips, leaks and oddly colored fluid on the engine. Also, if there was ever any welding, you’ll be able to see the repairs while you’re under the vehicle.

Repair Log

Always ask for maintenance, accident and auto repair records. There are online free services where you can check a vehicle’s records by the VIN, in case the seller isn’t able to supply the information.

Always have a diagnostic inspection done by a trusted mechanic shop. Whether you buy from a dealership or a private dealer, neither should have any issues with this request.

Not sure where to take it? Serving Fort Wayne and surrounding communities since 1962, Yeoman Service Center is here to help you ensure that your new-to-you car isn’t a lemon. Call us today!

Written by Donny Yeoman