The used car market is pretty tight right now. Shortages have made it harder than ever for car lots to remain full.
Some less-savory characters may even be tempted to put a few known “lemons” on their lots (with just enough repairs to make them look like a good deal) to keep the sales rolling in.
You’re not a mechanic, so how do you know when you’re looking at a car that’s been quietly repaired?
Do this to hunt for hidden repairs on a vehicle
You don’t need special training or mechanical talent to spot problems with a vehicle that’s for sale. Just do the following:
1. Use your eyes. Your eyes are the best tool you have when it comes to detecting a vehicle that has seen water damage. Lift the edge of the carpets and the trunk mat, look at the door jambs for watermarks and staining, and peek underneath the vehicle to look for rust on bolts and screws.
2. Use your hands. Is that used vehicle bright and shiny? Well, it may be too shiny — and that new coat of paint could be hiding body damage and cheap fixes. Run your hand over the shiny areas to feel for rough paint, which indicates that the paint was applied over repair work. (Paint applied at a factory is usually smooth to the touch.)
3. Use your ears. The salesman may tell you, “Oh, this was a rental, so you know it’s a good car,” but the exact opposite may be true. Rental companies usually ditch a vehicle when it starts to show signs of age and needs repairs. If it were still reliable, the rental company wouldn’t have replaced it.
Auto dealer fraud is a common problem, no matter where you live. If you’ve been scammed into buying a bad car, find out more about your legal rights and options.