We’ve all been there, standing in the hot sun at the used car dealership listening to the suited salesman sprouting his extensive knowledge on the 2006 Toyota Corolla in “mint condition”. You’re quietly guessing it’s just come back from the panel beater and hasn’t been serviced in three years, but how can you tell?
Whether you are looking to buy privately or from a used car dealer here are five practical tips for avoiding a lemon:
Ask lots of questions
The more questions you ask the easier it will be to find out how much the seller knows about the car and its history. Look for any differences between what you’re hearing and what you see in front of you. This can be a sign the seller doesn’t really know too much about the vehicle or worst case scenario is hiding something. Jot down some notes to research or ask a friend with more knowledge later.
Even if you haven’t got a clue, check the motor
What you will hopefully see is a nice clean, orderly engine bay, with no corrosion. What you don’t want to see is any wet spots which could mean an oil leak. And you certainly don’t want to see any rust. At the end of the day if the motor doesn’t look clean and tidy, there’s a fair chance you’re looking at a lemon.
Take your time, and your fine tooth comb
Don’t feel pressure to look quickly. You’re investing your money in this car so it’s okay to take your time. Check the buttons, clips, switches, levers and dials. If it moves, move it; if it turns, turn it; if it’s not meant to move, make sure it won’t. They may all be little things but they will save you a lot of frustration in three months time when you realise the back windows don’t go back up and the boot doesn’t shut properly.
Drive with all your senses
Ok, perhaps you don’t have to use taste but use your other senses. Be sure to turn the radio off when you take the car for a test drive. The sound system might be top of the line but you won’t be appreciating the clarity of that bass when you’re stuck on the side of the road with a broken motor. Listen for unusual pings, rattles and knocks, anything out of the ordinary may be a cause for concern. Also feel how the car responds, if there are any strange shakes or shudders, you could be driving a lemon.
Phone a friend (Even better if they know cars)
When it comes to cars it’s always a good idea to find someone you trust who knows what they are dealing with. Unless you are extremely lucky with your car search or enjoy spending your weekends at car yards, finding the right car can quickly become a chore. A friend with an interest in cars and a fair degree of mechanical knowledge would be perfect but that is not a luxury available to everyone. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion from a friend who may notice something that you don’t.
To wrap it up
This is a simplified guide to buying a car but even keeping these 5 things in mind can give you a better chance of dodging a lemon.
Of course we can help out too
If searching for a car is time you’d rather spend doing something else or you are worried about the risk of forking over your hard earned in exchange for a lemon there is a way to take the stress away.
Sourcing quality vehicles and brokering deals that represent good value is what we do every day. Click Here for more about our car buying service. Our team have the enthusiasm and expert knowledge needed to find you a car you will love.