Protected by lemon law, consumers can be proactive

Purchasing a car is rarely the exciting party that TV commercials make it seem. In fact, many may procrastinate making the decision to trade in or buy because it typically means taking on a loan for something that quickly loses value. What can be even more frustrating is paying the money for a car only to find out it has a defect that costs more and more money when the owner makes repeated visits to the dealer for repairs. While consumers are protected by California's lemon law, it's always best to avoid buying a lemon in the first place.

Before hitting the car lots, consumers can educate themselves about some simple ways to examine vehicles they are considering purchasing. When looking under the hood, a consumer should see a relatively clean engine and battery, free from corrosion. Belts and hoses should not be stiff, worn or frayed, and there should be no evidence of leaking fluids. Consumers should check the oil and transmission fluid and know the proper levels and appearances of healthy fluids.

In addition to taking a test drive and making other observations in the dealer's lot, consumers can learn a lot by researching the vehicle's history for recalls and by searching as many sources as possible for past accidents or damage. Taking the car to a private mechanic is never a waste of time. Trained eyes, ears and hands can locate issues that could bring the buyer expensive trouble.

California's lemon law protects those who spend hard-earned money on a vehicle only to find it is defective. There are also specific rules a car dealer must follow, such as ensuring the car's tires, windshield and brakes are all safe and undamaged. Nevertheless, every day consumers are taken advantage of by unscrupulous car dealers, and they have recourse through the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Source: Consumer Reports, "How to Avoid Buying a Lemon Car", Accessed on Dec. 2, 2017