Buying A Used Car – Buying Advice To Avoid Lemon (Part 2)

How to choose a used car without Lemon Law issues 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 Lemon 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 Interior of the used car

  • A cabin can reveal sagging headliner, cracked dashboard, and missing knobs, handles, and buttons
  • Frayed seat belts or ones with melted fibers because of friction indicate a previous frontal impact above 15 mph
  • Worn pedals or a sagging driver’s seat are signs that the used car has very high mileage
  • An air bag warning light that stays lit may indicate that a bag has deployed and been improperly replaced or not replaced at all
  • A mildew smell indicates a water leak
  • Discolored carpeting, silt in the trunk, or intermittent electrical problems are signs of flood damage

Under The Hood of the used car

  • The engine, radiator, and battery should be relatively grease-free with very little or no corrosion
  • Belts and hoses should be pliable and unworn
  • Wet spots indicate leaking oil or fluids
  • Melted wires, tubes, or lines, or a blackened firewall indicate overheating worse,an engine fire

Engine oil of the used car

  • Let the engine cool and check if all the fluids are clean, filled to the proper level, and do not have leaks:
  • Remove the dipstick from its tube and clean it with a dry rag, reinsert it and remove it again
  • The oil level should be between the ‘full’and’add’marks
  • Normal engine oil is brown or black, depending on when it was last changed
  • Gritty or gelatinous oil may indicate long stretches between oil changes
  • Thin, frothy oil with the color of chocolate milk points to a blown head gasket or to a severely damaged block or cylinder head
  • Fine metal particles in the oil indicate internal damage or heavy wear

The transmission fluid dipstick is usually located in the rear of the engine compartment.

  • Check it right after the car has been driven for more than 10 minutes
  • With the engine at idle and both the brake and parking brake applied, shift through all the gears
  • Leave the engine running and put it in neutral or park according to the owner’s manual
  • Check the level in relation to the dipstick marks
  • Inspect the fluid’s condition
  • The transmission fluid should be bright red to light reddish brown,
  • Dark brown, black, or mustard colored transmission fluid indicate serious problems
  • Strong burned smell of the transmission fluid indicates severe wear

The Tires of the used car

  • Wear should be even across the width of the tread and the same on the left and right sides of the car
  • Tires frequently used while over-inflated, tend to have more wear in the middle
  • Tires driven while under-inflated, tend to wear more on the sides
  • Heavy wear on the outside shoulder near the sidewall of the tire indicates a hard driven car from aggressive driving
  • Hard driven car due to aggressive driving has its other parts also wear out excessively
  • Cupped tires, those that have worn unevenly along the circumference of the treads indicate problems with the steering, suspension, or brakes

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