How do I know if the used car I’m looking at is a good car or a lemon.

When shopping for a used car there are so many variables to consider that it can be quite overwhelming.

Because consumer protection laws can vary from state to state, many used car shoppers have very high defense mechanisms built up before meeting with the people that they will potentially buy from, so let’s take a look at how to do the best you can to ensure you don’t get taken for a ride in purchasing your next vehicle.


GET THE CARFAX! Just like the tv and radio ads say, ask the seller to provide a CARFAX vehicle history statement. This will show inspection dates, service visits, recalls that have been performed, and accident history. You’ll want to know if your vehicle has been maintained well previously.


THE SILENT WALKAROUND This is a technique often employed by professional appraisers and used car managers at dealerships when evaluating the value of trades and used car purchases they may need to make. If you’ve ever noticed this technique, you may have scratched your head as to what was going on. They will visually inspect the vehicle and often run their fingertips over the body lines, gaps, and seams of the vehicle to ensure that no damage has been inflicted through unreported accidents. Yes, even though you may have gotten a clean CARFAX report doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been damaged. If it hadn’t been reported to insurance, it could have been damaged and fixed and placed up for sale and nobody was necessarily ever made aware of it. If the fingertip test reveals rough edges along the body or any inconsistencies at all, it may be a sign of paint and body work.

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS Make sure that the seller has cleaned and detailed the car as best as it can be done prior to delivery. Sometimes the smallest things can have huge ramifications to your satisfaction. If it has a cabin air filter, was it replaced with a new one before you drove it home? If not, you be smelling some unpleasant things later on and causing improper air circulation inside the car. Is that a crayon melted into the carpet? Why wasn’t this thing steam cleaned properly?

HELLO? IS THIS THING ON? Often overlooked items can be intrumentation lights and guages that are going dim or burnt out altogether. These items can be easily fixed sometimes, but in some situations it could require replacing ECU’s and other expensive components. Check all the lights and signals both inside and outside the vehicle.


FIND AN EXPERT Sometimes it pays to have experience on your side. When in doubt, it could be beneficial to take a licensed and experienced mechanic or technician with you or arrange to have the car privately inspected before finally signing for it. Ensure that it is functionally capable of delivering the goods when you need it to.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED After doing your due diligence to ensure that you’ve made a decision to buy that you are comfortable with, get a reliable warranty. Take on coverage that will protect you from expensive repairs that might occur down the road that can happen to any vehicle, but be sure to get a genuine manufacturer’s warranty where you are guaranteed service at any of the franchised dealerships around the country and not just limited to certain items or certain repair shops.

I hope that these tips help to find you safe and reliable transportation.

As a car sales professional, I deal with new and used cars on a daily basis and I see the anxiety displayed by several of my customers when researching solutions to their vehicular needs and I do my best to offer my counsel and experience to aid in the process. If you, or someone you know is in the market for a vehicle, new or preowned, please reach out to me by calling (304)437-WILL or message me on my Facebook page.

2 thoughts on “How do I know if the used car I’m looking at is a good car or a lemon.

  1. I just want people to know that William McCormick is a great sales guy. I have now gotten almost 3 new cars and he is so good to contact me to see how they are doing and if anything he can do. In fact he is bringing my new 2016 Prius C to me soon. Not many would do this for anyone. Thank you so much. William


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