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Avoiding buying if desperate, and other tricks to avoid a lemon

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2024 | Lemon Law

Most discussions about actual lemon laws in West Virginia focus on brand-new vehicles. Usually, defects in newer vehicles that dealerships cannot quickly fix could allow buyers the option of returning the defective vehicle, requesting a replacement or demanding a refund.

However, in a broader sense, when people refer to a vehicle as a lemon, they mean a vehicle that is in poor condition or difficult to repair. A vehicle does not necessarily need to fall under state lemon laws to be a lemon. Plenty of older vehicles that may not legally constitute lemons because of their age can prove unsafe to drive and create challenges for the new owner.

Someone seeking to buy a vehicle typically wants to make a smart investment when doing so. There are several tricks to employ that can reduce the likelihood of accidentally purchasing a lemon.

Don’t buy a vehicle while desperate

The easiest way to end up tricked into buying the wrong vehicle is to buy while in a rush. After a car crash or when a vehicle completely stops working, drivers often feel like they need the fastest resolution to their issue possible. They may fail to take key steps for their own protection, such as taking the vehicle to a mechanic they trust to have a pre-purchase inspection performed. Those who make alternate arrangements, such as borrowing or renting a vehicle, may feel more comfortable taking the necessary time to look into the vehicles they consider purchasing.

Thoroughly investigate each option

Simply buying from a licensed dealership does very little to protect someone from fraud and poor-quality vehicles. Dealerships often buy huge lots of vehicles at auctions and may not know the full history of the vehicle. It is incumbent upon the buyer to look into the vehicle’s history beyond what the salesperson discloses to them. Otherwise, they might end up paying far more than a vehicle is worth or investing in a vehicle with a history of major issues. Looking into vehicle recalls and even the reputation of the dealership can be important for buyers trying to avoid a lemon.

Make a test drive a priority

A test drive should not just be a cursory trip around the block to make sure the car runs. Drivers need to see how the vehicle operates at high speeds and when idling in heavy traffic to really check it for signs of major issues. Closely looking at the interior and exterior of the vehicle for undisclosed damage and taking a lengthy test drive, including a stop at a trusted mechanic’s facility, could help people avoid buying a lemon by accident.

Those who unintentionally purchase a vehicle in poor condition have rights. Dealership fraud and other types of misconduct could give someone the right to take legal action against a dealership. Avoiding a lemon is valuable, but drivers should also be ready to take legal action if necessary if they get tricked into buying a lemon despite their best efforts.

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