Mechanics And Car Buyers Describe Red Flags That Identify A Car As A Lemon  

Nathan Gibson
18.8k views 13 items

Buying a car can be a stressful process. Not only are cars among the most expensive items we purchase, but they are also usually something we depend on every day. While you can be reasonably sure a new car will be free of defects or other problems, buying a used vehicle is a totally different ball game. You need to know how to tell if a car is a lemon before you buy it.

Thankfully, online forums have all kinds of advice on used cars from mechanics. These mechanic tips give you a good idea of what to look for and what should be considered a red flag. So if you are thinking about buying a used car, take a look at these warnings from real-life mechanics.

It's Best To Get A Professional Opinion If You Can

From Quora user Kenny Muir:

A lemon car generally refers to one (or more) of three things.

This refers to the motor or other mechanical components in the car being faulty, or just purely worn out. This could be worn engine seals, leaks in the cooling system or a variety of other issues. Thoroughly inspect all mechanical components before buying or get a professional to inspect [them] for you.

A defect in the chassis or body exists that poses a safety risk and/or prevents it from passing a safety inspection. This could include rust, unrepaired body damage or worn out structural components. Again, make sure you get a mechanical inspection before [making a] purchase if you are unsure what to look for!

If you want a solid, reliable car, don’t buy an old Lada. It doesn’t matter if the Lada has only done 50,000 miles, it will NOT be good value for money! Stick to Japanese cars if you can; otherwise, seek advice on other makes/models that are well known for reliability before buying.

Don’t Buy From A Seller That Refuses An Inspection

From Quora user Craig Good:

Before buying a used car you should insist on (and pay for) a pre-purchase inspection by an independent mechanic. If the seller refuses, it [is] probably a lemon.

Have A Look At The Panels

From Quora user Pareek Savitri:

First thing... don't buy it at night - take a look at it in the daylight. You need to see it in good sunlight. [That way] you [will] be able to compare panels to each other to make sure that they all look uniform.

If it's been painted [is the] first warning sign to stay away - it's either been in an accident or it's rusty. If one panel is rusty, most likely other panels are also rusty.

Inspect The Bolts

From Redditor /u/edge_basics:

Look at the bolts that connect the panels to the vehicle. They come painted the same color as the car from the factory. If the paint is chipping, or it looks like there's been a wrench on them, that could indicate that bodywork was done on the car and the panel has either been readjusted or replaced.