This is a continuation on last week's post, on how to avoid your chances of purchasing a lemon pre-owned/used car. The same disclaimer applies; this is not legal advice, but are mere suggestions. Although I handle Texas lemon law cases, I do not handle pre-owned or used car cases.
Tip #4: Get a mechanic's inspection. Purchasing a vehicle is arguably the second most costliest item that most consumers buy in their lifetime. As a consumer, you do not purchase vegetables at your local grocery with blindfolds on,...the same logic applies in purchasing lemon cars. Without a mechanic's expert opinion, it is difficult to determine the condition of the vehicle underneath the hood. My lemon law office gets at least one call a day of unsuspecting car owners who subsequently learn that their 2007 Dodge Caravan has a 2005 engine or component on it.
Tip #5: Bring a friend during your visit to the dealership. During my pre-lasik surgery days, my friends always advise that four eyes are usually better than two. Buying a vehicle can be stressful and it is a good idea to have your friend look for potential red flags and defect cover-ups while you talk to the used car salesman.
Last month, right before the inauguration, I helped a friend move from Texas to Maryland (yes, I did temporarily closed my lemon law office for a couple of days,...but, I stayed in touched with all of my clients via my laptop and cell phone,...hence, clients are happy). Once we arrived in Maryland, my friend needed to purchase a vehicle and we began shopping for a pre-owned car over that weekend.
From that experience, I proffer some tips that I've learned on ways to avoid a potentially problematic vehicle, aka, the lemon car. Please keep in mind that these tips are merely my personal bias opinion and not legal advice, by any means. Also, please DO NOT call my office if you are a victim of a pre-owned or used lemon car, as my office only handles new lemon cars.
Tip #1: If you have an Iphone, G1, or any smartphone with data or internet capabilities, then bring it along (make sure you enroll in autocheck.com before you go car shopping).
* We did so and I was able to pull up the vehicle's history report while my friend was test driving the vehicle. All I had to do was enter the car's VIN number into my Iphone and was able to determine if the vehicle was a lemon-designated or previously auctioned vehicle. Why do I recommend autocheck?...well, because most used car dealers will probably offer to provide you with a free carfax.com report, you'll need to cross reference the information on both reports to get a more complete picture of the car's history. Some information not found on carfax.com may be discovered on autocheck.com, as these companies obtain their information from different sources.
Tip #2: I don't care what the car salesperson say, if the vehicle has been purchased from an auction, then it may potentially have more problems than meets the eye. Cars that have been subjected to auctions may have been a pre-litigation lemon car buyback (where the manufacturer settles or voluntarily repurchases the car before the final adjudication of a state's lemon law decision). Auctioned cars are generally bad news, as the disclosure requirements found in the process of an auction are minimal, if not non-existent.
* We found a car that checked out clean on carfax.com, but showed "auction" on the autocheck.com report. We asked the salesperson about it, and he changed his story about this vehicle being traded in last week by a senior citizen to "oh yeah, it may have been purchased at an auction of retired rental cars." We left that dealership quickly.
Tip #3: Check for mildew or signs of previous water damage inside and underneath the vehicle. Pull the front and back seat belts out all the way and see if there are stains on it. It is very difficult to stain the ends of a seat belt and if there are stains there, then it could have resulted from a vehicle that was trying to swim underwater during a flood. Check the rims and behind the wheels, does it seem corroded?