What to Know about Buying a Lemon

For most of us, buying a vehicle is a major purchase and commitment that follows us for years. Since our culture is so reliant on automobiles and because of their cost, there are laws to protect consumers from spending a lot of money on a vehicle that has a condition that impairs its use or value. Unfortunately, the state of Alabama only covers new vehicles under its lemon laws, but regardless, there are a few rules to follow to help protect ourselves from buying a lemon in the first place.

lemon buying
  • Research: Take the time to look up makes, models, dealers, recalls, and possibly existing defects to help figure out the best course of action. The more customers research about their choice, the more prepared they’ll be.
  • Ask Questions: Do not be afraid to ask the dealer or seller questions about the vehicle. If it’s for a new car, ask the dealer how many people have returned with issues? Figure out what those issues were. Ask if they know of anyone selling the vehicle soon after buying it. If used, first figure out why the car was sold in the first place. Cars are usually sold for a reason, and it may be performance based.
  • Buy from Reputation: Look around online and ask around about the reputation of dealers before you shop. There are many outlets on the internet for consumers to complain about their experiences, and often, news of a crooked car seller spreads pretty quickly. Picking a highly reputable choice will keep you protected.
  • Bring a Mechanic: This is mostly with used vehicles. If you are close to a mechanic, ask if the expert can come with you to check out the car you have your eye on. Otherwise, ask if you can bring the car to the mechanic yourself, with or without the salesman in the car. If the answer is “no,” perhaps it’s time to walk.
  • Check the History: This is also only with used cars. Ask for a Carfax report or similar. If the dealer will not supply one, it is usually worth the small fee to purchase one yourself. This way, you can see the accident and work history of the car. Not everything may show up, though, so do not replace a mechanic check-up with a simple history report.

If you have purchased a new car that turned out to have a defect that impairs use, value, or safety, the responsible party is obligated to repair the issue. Do not delay in letting them know when you’ve come across such an issue. In situations where the dealer and manufacture refuse to cooperate with you in this, please contact a lawyer to proceed.