New and used lots both have lemons that start showing signs after one month

If you know a lemon when you see it, you might not be looking hard enough.

Two-thirds of lemons were purchased at new and used car dealerships, and most of those duds were discovered after only a month of ownership, according to mobile car repair company YourMechanic.

“Lemons,” or seemingly normal cars that are faulty after a short time, can come from anywhere — like a private sale through something like Craigslist or a neighbor, or a car dealership. They can be costly: more than one-third of lemon purchases put new owners out $10,000 or more.

And that’s just on repairs to the original car. That doesn’t include buying a new vehicle after you’ve discovered you bought a lemon.

How to avoid lemons

If you’re in the market for a new car but want to avoid hurting yourself in the long run, there are a few things you should know about lemon cars before you start your search.

YourMechanic says brake problems were the most commonly reported issue, followed by problems with the starter, suspension, and engine. More than one-third of lemon owners notice symptoms within a week after purchasing, with another third noticing after a month.

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“The most extreme issues reported by lemon owners included an instance where all of the doors fell off of the vehicle, a large oil leak, dishonest emission test results, inaccurate odometer readings (in one case with an instance of a 100,000+ mile discrepancy), faulty airbags, a convertible with a broken top and windows, and unreported collision damage,” YourMechanic says.

You can avoid a huge financial burden (and headache) if you opt into a third-party prepurchase inspection. You may be paying a bit more up front, but at least you’ll know what your car is (in)capable of before you buy it. Nearly 3-in-4 respondents to the YourMechanic survey say they didn’t get one.

Even moreso, nearly the same amount said they didn’t even know these types of services were available in the first place. The prepurchase inspection determines what state the vehicle is in and lists any future issues you as the owner may face if you buy it. It’s not just the money. Car issues can pose major safety risks; other issues YourMechanic mentioned included faulty airbags and unreported collision damage.

If owning a car is giving you a headache and a bank break, consider moving to a place where you can live car-free, like New York, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C. If you’ve got to have a car, though, consider these cars that last forever.

Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Writer

Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Budgeting & Saving, News, Travel

car buying, save money

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Article last modified on August 31, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Most Lemons Come from Car Dealerships - AMP.