Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware – is really your best defense in avoiding the dreaded lemon. In other words, do your homework before buying a car:
- Several organizations rate cars on reliability, including Consumer Reports, J.D. Power,Edmunds, The Center for Auto Safety and the Car Complaint Index as published in The Car Book, just to name a few.
- Look up complaints on the car, van, or truck you are considering. Start at Safecar.gov and search its national database on recalls, complaints, and investigations. Also, check for complaints at The Center for Auto Safety. And don’t forget Google and social media: Ask others in your network if they know anything about the cars you are considering.
- Go with a reputable dealer that is authorized to sell cars by the manufacturer.
- Test drive all of your options and be hyper-alert for noises or poor handling. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts.
- Learn your state’s lemon laws so you know what to do if something goes wrong.
And finally, once you have purchased a car, be sure to file away all the maintenance reports and receipts in a safe place (not in the car) just in case you need the documentation later. Learn more here from WikiHow, including tips on buying a dependable used car.