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9 Warning Signs You May Be Buying a Lemon Car

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  September 3, 2023

Are you in the market for a used car? Before you buy, it’s crucial to be aware of the warning signs that could indicate you’re buying a lemon.

A lemon car is a vehicle with serious manufacturing defects that could lead to continuous mechanical problems. Driving a lemon not only causes frustration but can also jeopardize your safety.

Our experienced California lemon law attorney describes the top warning signs you should look for when evaluating a potential used car purchase here.


  1. Seller’s Behavior
  2. Be wary of sellers who are evasive or unwilling to share information. A reputable seller should be transparent and readily answer your questions. If they seem hesitant to provide necessary documentation, such as a vehicle history report, it’s a red flag. Trust your instincts and be cautious.

    A trustworthy seller will happily provide all the information you need to make an informed decision.


  3. Steering Issues
  4. When test-driving a used car, pay attention to the steering. If the vehicle drifts or needs constant corrections to stay on course or the steering feels loose or wobbly, it could be a sign of alignment or steering fluid issues.


  5. Uneven Tire Tread
  6. Tires can tell you a lot about a car’s condition. If the tires are worn unevenly, it might mean the car wasn’t properly maintained. Uneven tire wear can signal steering, suspension, or brake problems — all of which could be safety hazards.


  7. Strange Smells
  8. When buying a car, trust your nose. If you smell something unusual or strong, it could be a sign of problems. For example, the smell of burnt oil may mean engine problems, and the smell of gasoline could be a leak.

    Any unfamiliar smells should make you wary and investigate further.


  9. Electric Issues
  10. During your inspection, check the windows and door locks. If the windows don’t fully roll down or the doors don’t lock and unlock properly, it might signal electrical problems.

    Electrical problems can be caused by a variety of things, such as faulty wiring, bad switches, blown fuses, or even water damage and corrosion. These issues can be expensive to fix, so it’s essential to find them before you buy the car.


  11. Low Oil Content
  12. Checking the oil level is also important when deciding whether to buy it. If the oil level is low, it could be a sign the car wasn’t properly maintained. If you add oil and the level quickly drops again, the vehicle may have a leak or excessive engine wear.

    It’s best to have the car inspected by a mechanic before you purchase it, especially if it has low oil.


  13. Interior Damages
  14. The condition of a car’s interior can tell you a lot about how well it’s been taken care of. Look for signs like frayed seat belts, sagging pedals, missing dashboard knobs, ripped seats, or missing headrests. This could mean the previous owner neglected the car or mistreated it.

    Excessive interior damage often goes hand-in-hand with problems under the hood.


  15. Pulling and Shaking
  16. Testing the car on the highway is crucial to check its performance. Watch out for two things when you accelerate: if it veers to one side or the steering wheel shakes. These could mean alignment issues or significant engine problems.

    Both of these problems can make the car less safe to drive, so it’s important to have them fixed before you buy it.


  17. Knocking and Hissing Sounds
  18. Listen for any knocking or hissing sounds from under the hood during the test drive.

    Knocking sounds may indicate engine problems, such as issues with pistons or head gaskets. Hissing sounds often suggest fluid leaks, which can lead to engine damage if left unaddressed. Unusual sounds should never be ignored; they can warn you about potential mechanical failures.


What Is the California Lemon Law?

If you encounter any of these warning signs or think you bought a faulty car in California, act quickly. California’s lemon law entitles you to free repairs if your vehicle is still under warranty.

However, if the issues persist after multiple repair attempts, you may be eligible for a refund or replacement vehicle. Seek assistance from a reputable lemon law firm to navigate the legal process and safeguard your rights.


Get in Touch with Our California Lemon Lawyers Today!

At Norman Taylor & Associates, we specialize in California lemon law cases for 2016 and newer vehicles and have over 25 years of experience representing clients. Call 818-244-3905 or contact us today to schedule a consultation and explore your options.

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    Glendale, CA 91204

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.


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