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Avoid Buying a Used Vehicle Lemon

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Avoid Buying a Used Vehicle Lemon

David Leonhardt
February 20, 2008

With the rise of the Canadian dollar, buying used vehicles from the U.S. has become the trend for many Canadians. Hurricane Katrina left approximately a half million nearly destroyed vehicles in it's wake and now many of them are being reintroduced into the market. To ensure that you are not buying a lemon, here are some simple steps to take.

Private Used Car Sales

1. Why are you Selling? - Ask the seller why they are selling the vehicle. Put them on the defence so they have to come up with a quick answer, if they hesitate they may have something to hide.

2. Proof-of-Service - Ask for all the maintenance records, proof of oil changes and tune-ups. If they don’t have it, for all you know the oil has never been changed.

3. Known Problems - Ask the seller to point out all known defects and problems. When doing your own inspection if you find obvious problems that the seller did not mention there might be more wrong with the vehicle then they are letting on.

4. Rebuilt Junkers - Look at all the seams in the car, the gaps should be the same distance apart at the top of a panel as they are at the bottom. Uneven gaps or small dents can suggest accident damage. The paint should match on all panels, and beware of body-kits and custom paint jobs. They may look cool, but they could be hiding damage to the chassis below. Look for over spray on plastic parts, around lights, mirrors and edges of the engine bay.

5. Stains, Leaks & Puddles - Look for stains and leaks in the driveway and garage.

  • Rust colored stains indicate a leaking radiator.
  • Black or Brown puddles and stains indicate an oil or transmission fluid leak.
  • Purple puddles indicate transmission fluid leaks.
  • Remember taking the used car to get a proper inspection by a mechanic prior to purchasing it is the most effective way of ensuring you won’t get stuck with a lemon.

    Used Car Dealers

    Dealers may also be purchasing used vehicles from the U.S., and may even unknowingly be selling a car that has had flood damage. Before you even leave the lot here are some steps to see if the vehicle has had any flood damage.

    Flood Damage - Look for rust on:

  • door hinges
  • spare tire
  • crowbar
  • jack
  • metal holdings under the seats

    If you find any rusting in these places, it may have had extensive water damage and it is best to move on.

    Remember when going through a dealership it is always best ensure you are buying your used car from a reputable dealer.

    Still not sure if you are getting a lemon? Carproof.ca offers complete reporting from all Canadian jurisdictions for title and accident history. Title information from the U.S., and odometer readings from auction records is also offered when available.

    ABOUT THE WRITERS

    This article was prepared by Canadian freelance writers David Leonhardt and Corey Rozon for Monster Auto, offering used cars for sale from Toronto to Calgary, including used Honda vehicles for sale and used Chevrolet vehicles for sale.



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