What is a Lemon Car?


When buying a new car, it is difficult to tell the gently used from the lemon in disguise. Lemon cars look good and drive well, for a time. Breakdowns are usually major and difficult to repair. There are some specific things that you should know to be able to discern a lemon car from one that just needs a little TLC.

Accident Disguised

  • Lemon cars have often been involved in an accident, but the damaged is temporarily fixed for a quick sale. Look for rippling or dents, bent frame underneath the car and the hood, as well as an unbalanced ride.


  • Listen for any rattles, clunking, clinking or whining that comes from the car. A car that exhibits any of these noises is most likely a lemon.


  • Turn the car on and let it idle in place. Get out your flashlight and look first on the ground under the car and then along the undercarriage and under the hood. More than an occasional drip of fluid leakage heralds a major damage.

Test Drive

  • Check for acceleration, braking, gear shifting and even the smoothness in the ride. Problems in any of these areas are signs of a lemon car.

Use a Mechanic

  • Either take along a mechanic or arrange to have the car examined by a mechanic before buying it. Although all of these characteristics do signal a lemon car, there is no way to know for certain without a mechanic's inspection.

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