Buying a used car – Buying Advice to avoid Lemon (Part 1)

How to choose a used car with good reliability history at good price

If you are planning to buy a certified pre-owned/used car from a dealer, a private sale or neighbor, it will do you a world of good to thoroughly read Consumer Reports for a safe used car buying experience.
Trouble-free used cars do NOT come just by a stroke of luck. It involves good research and a keen eye to spot potential problems. Choice of a right and reliable used car can save you angst about possible Lemon law issues sooner or later.

You can easily identify a good used car and eliminate potential lemons if you do not turn a Nelson’s eye for the following:

  • The reliability record
  • Reliability-history reduces the risk of purchasing a Lemon used car
    • Select models with a good reliability record before you make a choice of the used car
    • The annual subscriber survey for Consumer Reports (CR’s) provides exclusive real-world reliability information
    • This reliability information can help you narrow your selections
    • Look into the best and the worst used cars for a quick reference
    • Read the reliability-history charts that accompany most of CR’s vehicle profiles
    • The reliability-history charts give you a more detailed information on the key trouble areas in various used car models
  • Buyer’s Guide as the Window Sticker
  • The Federal Trade Commission requires dealers to post a Buyer’s Guide in every used vehicle offered for sale as a window sticker
    • The Buyer’s Guide must contain information if is being sold ‘as is’ or with a warranty, and the percentage of repair costs the dealer is obligated to pay
    • The Buyer’s Guide information overrides any contrary provisions in your sales contract
    • If the Buyer’s Guide says that the vehicle is covered by a warranty, the dealer must honor that warranty
    • If any changes in coverage are negotiated, the Guide must be included in it before the sale
    • If a sale is designated ‘as is’, it means that the dealer makes no guarantees as to the condition of the vehicle
    • Any problems that arise after you have made the purchase of a used car designated ‘as is’, will be your responsibility
    • Many states do not allow’as-is’ sales on vehicles selling for more than a certain price
  • The Exterior
    • Walk around the car looking for dents, chipped paint, mismatched body panels or parts, broken lamp housings, and chipped windows
    • Gaps between body panels should be of a consistent width and line up
    • Paint over spray on chrome or rubber trim or in the vehicle’s wheel wells are signs of body-panel repair
  • Test for the presence of body filler with a small magnet
    • If the magnet doesn’t stick to the panel, the car may have filler under the paint
    • Some vehicles with plastic or fiberglass panels do not attract a magnet at all
    • A door, hood, or trunk that doesn’t close or seal properly is evidence of previous damage and sloppy repair work
    • Inconsistent welds around the hood, doors, or trunk is also evidence of previous damage and sloppy repair work
    • A Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) sticker on a body panel means the part has been replaced

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