While most might call any old junker a lemon, the term is actually a legal one, and therefore the definition varies from state to state. The laws in every state consider any defect that makes the vehicle undrivable. They will also consider the repairs that have to be done to the vehicle to get the car in a position where it can be driven. If the same defect has been repaired repeatedly and still cannot be fixed, the car is considered to be a lemon. The amount of times the vehicle has had to be repaired differs by state. The defect is also considered. For instance, the defect must be something causing the car to be broken down and unable to drive.
If the safety of the passengers is at risk because of a vehicle then you may have a lemon on your hands. This can be many numbers of things. For instance, if the wiring on the vehicle is damaged and is a fire hazard the car could be dangerous to drive.
There are a few other definitions as well, but generally any vehicle with a serious defect or other factor diminishing the value could be considered a lemon by law.
The simplest and best way to avoid buying a lemon is to make sure the vehicle has a solid warranty. No reputable dealer would offer you a broken vehicle, and they certainly wouldn’t offer to fix it! Knowing that the vehicle has been inspected by certified technicians or mechanics is another good step to ensuring you don’t drive away in a car that will break down in a few months.
Don’t be afraid to express any concerns verbally to the dealer. If you go on a test drive and notice any strange noises or vibrations, make sure they are aware of the problem. Having it written down as part of the purchase will ensure that any problem that does arise can be dealt with and that you are protected.
Check with the manufacturer for any known car issues, such as recalls, before finalizing the purchase. You’re getting an unbiased view of the car from the source. Checking out review sites for common maintenance issues with any vehicle is another good way to protect yourself.
Take a few extra steps and ensure you’re getting the right car at the right price. Make sure the dealer is well-known and reliable. Ask your friends and family if they’ve ever purchased a car there before. Make sure the salesperson wants to sell you the best car they can, not just move product off the lot.