that one in ten cars sold in the United States are lemons. Heres a handy checklist
to help ensure that youre not one of the unfortunate 10% stuck with a bad auto
1. Check the reliability.
Once youve decided what type of car you want , be it a sedan, SUV, convertible or
truck - go to Consumer Reports or another reputable public research website and look up
the repair records for each manufacturer. Does a 2002 Chevy sedan end up in the shop more
than a 2002 Toyota? Check both the manufacturer and the model year because there can be
radical differences from year to year, even for the same model from the same auto maker.
2. Dont pay too much.
Even before you start looking, take the time to go online to kellybluebook.com. For 80
years, Kelly has been accumulating ongoing records of selling prices for cars in every
condition, from mint to sub par. Understand that a dealer will be asking the top price in
every range, while a private owner will probably accept a price in the middle or bottom of
that same range. Since the used car market is more regional than youd imagine,
compare the Kelly prices to the ones shown in your local classified ad sections.
3. Check out the history.
Dont you wish you could learn more about that used roadster youve been eyeing?
Well, you can! The company carfax.com has the complete recorded history of almost every
vehicle in the country, including mileage records, repair and accident history - plus
salvage, junk and flood reports.
4. Watch out for safety.
Will your new car help you survive a wreck? Will it roll over too easily? Are owners
complaining about it? Go to the website of the National Traffic Safety Administrator for
detailed records on the crash-worthiness of your new ride. These folks spend their time
smashing crash-test dummies into brick walls - and not just because its fun. The
wellbeing of you and your family may depend on the research you do at this website, so be
5. Take a spin. Before
buying any used car, you should spend 20 minutes taking it through its paces on both city
streets and highways. Check the operation of every switch and feature when idling. Then
assess the alignment, brakes and transmission as you drive. If the car pulls to one side,
or makes a grinding sound when you brake, theres a problem.
6. Take it to a mechanic.
Spending a few dollars having your mechanic go over the car is a wise investment. Have him
drive it, check the electrical system and pull the tires to check the brakes. Some
mechanics have a used car inspection, where they perform a thorough check of all the
cars systems and provide you with a printout of anything that needs to be fixed
a great haggling point if youre going back and forth on price.
7. Just in case, squeeze the lemon.
Every state has different definitions and laws regarding lemons. In general, a lemon is a
car with a repetitive problem that affects the operation of the vehicle. If you end up
with a lemon, get the details of the regulations that apply to you at lemonlawamerica.com.