Key Signs Your New Vehicle is a Lemon

So you’ve just bought a car from a relative, and you’re out for a trip with your friends when suddenly, your car breaks down. Hmm, it didn’t act up like this when I did my test drive, you think. My friend, it looks like you bought a lemon car!

A car is termed a “lemon” if it has several manufacturing defects affecting its value, use, and the safety of users. Additionally, any vehicle with serious issues that compromise its purpose is a lemon.

Lemon laws vary from country to country and even state to state, with some only applicable to new cars. The gist of it, however, stays the same: a substantial, irreparable defect that occurred within a certain number of miles or a specific time period after you bought the car must exist.

So, what are the issues that make a car a lemon?

Sounds Coming from Underneath the Hood

Unless it is from the car stereo turned on, sounds can be warning signs that the car is a lemon. Sometimes, a hissing sound occurs suddenly, which most likely indicates there’s a fluid leak hitting the engine. A knocking sound, on the other hand, may foretell a serious problem with the vehicle’s engine parts.

Wobbly Steering Wheel

The steering wheel of the vehicle should always feel tight yet responsive. If it is wobbly or loose, it can be a sign of a problem with either steering fluid or alignment. A loose steering wheel can pose a safety issue, so if you feel like the car has one, better bring it back to the seller.

Oil Level Is Low

For used cars, checking the oil content is a must. If the level of the oil is too low, it can signal that the previous owner was not a responsible one or that the vehicle leaks oil. Either way, it is not a good sign. To check if a leak is present, you can add oil to the car and see if the level drops quickly. If not, it is a sure sign that the former owner didn’t take care of the car enough to change the oil, which could mean that the vehicle has been used even with low oil content. Wear and tear of the engine parts possibly exist by this time.

Problems with Doors, Windows and Locks

Encountered any safety defects? They could also mean that the car you bought is a lemon. You must be incredibly wary of safety defects.

Here is an example. The standard among most cars nowadays is to have automatic locks, which are powered by the electrical system of the vehicle. If a problem with these locks is found, like doors that don’t lock, it can indicate a faulty electrical system. Other things may occur, like windows that only roll down part of the way. Issues such as this may lead to bigger ones, and may even pose a threat to passenger safety.

Inconsistent Paint

Check the exterior of the car: if you think the paint is mismatched where one part is shinier than the other or one part has faded, you may be right in thinking that it is a lemon vehicle. In their attempt to present the car as a good buy, some car owners and sellers will conceal the fact that previous damage has happened to the vehicle.

Inflexible Bumper

Fixing a car’s suspension is among the most costly car repairs you’ll ever have. To check whether or not your newly-bought car is a lemon, do the bumper test: push down on both the back and front bumper. An efficiently working suspension will give one or two bounces. If the bumper is inflexible, doesn’t bounce, or offers resistance, it could mean that the vehicle’s suspension is in trouble.

Strong Odors

Whether your car is brand new or used, it should never have a strong odor. Smells should only come from the scent of the car freshener you use. A perfectly fine car doesn’t give off a funny or strong smell. Odors coming from a vehicle may be coming from something obvious like an oil leak, or they could be coming from something much harder to distinguish.

If you’ve already bought the car and only learned about a strong odor later, you’re encouraged to call the seller to negotiate, or the auto shop for repair.

Irregular Tire Tread

Another sign that the car may be a lemon is uneven tire tread, which can indicate that the tires were neither changed nor rotated. It could mean that the previous owner did not properly maintain the car. Sometimes, an irregular tire tread also indicates that there is an issue with the car’s front end alignment. Regardless, having such treads on a tire is not a good sign.

Unresponsive Seller

Should there be a problem with the car you’ve just bought, your internal radar should signal that it is a lemon if the seller or previous owner is unresponsive or evasive. It could mean that he’s trying to hide something.

If you’ve encountered these signs while using your newly-bought vehicle, then it is no secret that it is a lemon. You can contact the seller to negotiate settlement or bring the car to a repair shop. You can also research the lemon law through the help of CA consumer Advocates in your state or region.

Julian Moore

Julian Moore fancies himself as someone who aims to help his readers comprehend otherwise hard-to-understand topics. He strives to show his passion towards writing in his pieces, where he tackles legal topics particularly about CA consumer Advocates. He hopes to engage his readers more through his informative style of writing. Julian is a father of three, and loves to spend time with his children during his free time.

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