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Avoid the Lemons: How to Choose a Safe Vehicle

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  May 10, 2024

Whether you’re in the market for a new or used vehicle, you want to make sure it’s free of defects and will keep you and your loved ones safe on the road. But how do you navigate the car-buying process and avoid ending up with a lemon? Our California lemon law attorney gives you nine steps to choose a safe car that meets your needs and gives you peace of mind.


9 Steps to Choosing a Safe Car


  1. Do Your Research
  2. First things first, do your homework before making any decisions. Start by researching the make and model of the car you’re interested in. Look for reliable sources such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for safety ratings and reviews. 

    Additionally, consider reading customer reviews to get a sense of real-world experiences with the car — that way, you’ll know of potential issues or concerns other owners have encountered.


  3. Inspect and Test Drive the Car
  4. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to get up close and personal with the vehicle. If you’re buying a used car, check for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or potential safety hazards. Pay attention to the condition of the brakes, tires, seatbelts, lights, etc.

    Take the car for a spin during the test drive and see how it handles. Test the brakes, acceleration, and steering responsiveness. Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations. A test drive will give you a feel for the car’s overall performance and help you determine if it suits your driving style and comfort level.


  5. Check for Recent Recalls
  6. Safety recalls are common in the automotive industry. Manufacturers issue recalls when they identify a defect or potential hazard in their vehicles. Before purchasing a car, check for any recent recalls for the make and model you’re interested in.

    You can search for recalls using the vehicle’s year, make, and model by visiting the NHTSA website or other reliable sources.


  7. Bring the Car to a Mechanic
  8. It’s always a good idea to have a professional mechanic inspect the vehicle before making a final decision. A mechanic will have the expertise to identify any hidden mechanical issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. Make sure you choose someone reputable and knowledgeable about the specific car you’re considering. 


  9. Keep an Eye Out for Safety Features
  10. Modern cars typically have advanced safety features designed to prevent accidents and protect occupants. Look for vehicles with airbags, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), and traction control.

    Plus, many vehicles now offer driver-assistance systems (ADAS) that provide additional safety benefits. These may include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring.


  11. Look at Crash Test Ratings
  12. Crash test ratings prove a vehicle’s ability to protect occupants in the event of a collision. Pay attention to the ratings for both frontal and side impacts. Cars that receive top ratings in these tests demonstrate a higher level of safety and may offer better protection.


  13. Get the Right Car for Your Needs
  14. Choosing a safe car goes beyond its safety features. You’ll also want to consider your specific needs and lifestyle. Evaluate the size of the vehicle, fuel efficiency, and the type of driving you’ll be doing.

    Smaller cars tend to have better fuel economy and maneuverability, making them suitable for city driving and parking in tight spaces. However, larger vehicles may provide more protection in an accident. Try to find the right balance between size, safety, and practicality.


  15. Be Aware of Maintenance Costs
  16. Owning a car involves ongoing maintenance and potential repair costs. Before buying, research the estimated maintenance costs for the vehicle you’re considering. Some cars may need more frequent servicing or have higher-priced parts, which could affect your overall budget.

    Also, consider the availability of parts, reliability, and the manufacturer’s reputation for long-term durability.


  17. Don’t Purchase a Vehicle “As-Is”
  18. If you’re looking at used cars, be wary of vehicles being sold “as-is.” This means the seller isn’t offering any warranty or guarantees regarding the car’s condition. Buying “as-is” can be risky, especially if you’re unfamiliar with its history or potential mechanical issues.

    Avoid buying a car without a warranty because it’ll leave you responsible for any unforeseen repairs. Instead, look for reputable sellers or consider a certified pre-owned vehicle with an extended warranty.


What Are Lemon Cars?

Lemon laws are designed to protect consumers who unknowingly purchase defective vehicles. A lemon car has substantial defects or issues that prevent it from functioning as intended, even after multiple repair attempts

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of driving a lemon, it’s important to know your rights under California and federal lemon laws. Depending on the circumstances, these provide avenues for compensation, such as a replacement vehicle or a refund. In these cases, consult a lemon law attorney to explore your legal options.


Contact Our California Lemon Law Firm for Expert Help Today!

Norman Taylor & Associates is dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers across California. Call 818-244-3905 or contact us for a FREE, no-obligation consultation!

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