How to Know If a Specific Car Model is a Lemon from Just a Test Drive?

Albert Howard

Updated on:

How to Know If a Specific Car Model is a Lemon from Just a Test Drive?

When you buy a car from a dealership, it should work properly and last for years. Unfortunately, all vehicle manufacturers are guilty of producing defective vehicles from time to time. Even some of the most reputable car brands, such as Mercedes and Toyota, have made mistakes. 

In fact, an estimated 150,000 cars produced each year turn out to be “lemons.” These are vehicles with serious manufacturing defects that cannot be repaired. This is why lemon laws exist.

Lemon laws (also known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) protect consumers who have purchased defective vehicles that are still under warranty. These laws vary from state to state, but typically, they require the manufacturer to replace the lemon vehicle with a new one or refund the purchase price. 

Of course, no one wants to end up with a lemon vehicle in the first place. So, how can you tell if a car is a lemon during the initial test drive? 

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Abnormal Noises

One of the first things you should do while test driving a car is pay attention to any unusual noises the vehicle makes. If you hear any strange sounds, such as grinding, clicking, or popping, there’s a good chance something is wrong with the car.

There are many potential causes of abnormal noises in cars. It could be an issue with the engine or brakes. Conversely, it could be something as simple as a loose part. Whatever the case may be, strange noises are never a good sign.

If you notice any unfamiliar noises while test driving a car, bring it up with the dealership before purchasing it. They may be able to perform a lemon car inspection and, if possible, fix the issue. If the dealership refuses to address the problem, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

  • Faulty Seat Belts

This is another critical safety feature to pay attention to while test driving a car. All seatbelts should be fully functional and easy to use. If the seatbelt is challenging to buckle or doesn’t seem to work correctly, there’s a good chance it’s defective.

Faulty seat belts are a severe safety issue. If the seatbelt doesn’t work as it should, it can cause severe injuries and even deaths. 

The manufacturer should replace any defective seat belts free of charge before you take delivery of the car. Yet, if the problem reoccurs after purchase, it’s best to consult a lemon law attorney to see if you have any legal recourse.

  • Steering Component Issues

Issues with the steering components are one of the most common signs that a car is a lemon. When test driving a car, pay close attention to how the steering wheel feels. 

Does it vibrate when you turn it? Is it difficult to turn? Does it feel “loose?” These are all red flags.

If you notice any steering component issues while test driving a car, bring them to the dealership’s attention. It’s better to catch these issues early and see if they are repairable – rather than mistakenly purchasing a lemon that cannot be fixed.

  • Poor Braking Performance

There are several things you can do to test the brakes while driving. For example, you can drive at a moderate speed and then quickly press the brakes to see how the car reacts. The vehicle should immediately slow down without any strange noises or sensations.

It’s best to avoid purchasing a car with poor brake performance. Otherwise, you may need to invest in significant repairs or consult a local lemon law lawyer. 

  • Unusual Smells

Last but not least, pay attention to any unusual smells while test driving a car. If you notice any foul odors, such as the scent of burning plastic or metal, it’s a good idea to have the vehicle inspected by a professional.

These smells could indicate serious issues, such as an overheating engine. The dealership or manufacturer may be able to fix the issue. Yet, these types of problems often suggest that the car is beyond repair.

In Conclusion

If you notice any of the above problems during your test drive, the car is likely a lemon. To avoid being stuck with a faulty vehicle,get the issue checked out or choose another car. You’ll save yourself a world of pain. 

If you do unknowingly purchase a lemon, consult a lemon law attorney right away. The longer you wait to file a claim, the lower your chances of securing a settlement.

Author Bio: Brian K. Cline’s Lemon Law Legal Group provides premier legal services. Our California lemon law lawyers aggressively and ethically force vehicle manufacturers to buy back defective and dangerous vehicles. Our team includes experienced trial lawyers with over 40 years of combined trial experience.