Skip to content

Car Shopping? How to Avoid Buying a Lemon

Q. When car shopping, how can I ensure I’m not buying a lemon?

A.Obviously, you’ll want to read reviews of vehicles you’re considering at and theConsumer Reports website. A lesser-known valuable resource is, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website that compiles data on complaints, recalls and safety defects by vehicle make, model and year.

Before buying a used car, get its vehicle identification number (VIN) and order a CARFAX report; many dealers offer this for free, or you can visit CARFAX online. It’s also wise to have your personal mechanic inspect the car and ask the dealer to document—in writing—anything about its prior history that could void its warranty or performance. Some states allow consumers two or more days to return problematic used cars, but most do not.