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Warning: Beware of these Signs of a "Lemon" Used Car

Jul 14, 2019 6:00:00 PM / by The Pit Boss

Keep a lookout for a "lemon" when you buy a used car. 

We’ve all been there before: faced with the all-important decision on which used car to buy. Whether it was a necessity for high school transportation or you were in a bind in your mid 20’s and needed something to get from A to B, used cars have always been there when we needed them most. 

Signs of a lemon used car.

Shop used cars with RumbleOn before you go to another lot. 

If you're looking for cars for sale online, RumbleOn has plenty to choose from. Whether you're looking for a luxury or family car, we've got what you're looking for. When you buy a used car from us, you'll receive a third-party Condition Report, 3-Day or 150-Mile Money-Back Guarantee, 30-Day Mechanical Guarantee and affordable door-to-door shipping.

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Whether buying a first car or you’re on your fifth vehicle, deciding which used car to purchase can be a challenge. There are so many factors that go into the purchase process such as mileage, mechanical history, repair records, and more. You’ve heard of the term “lemon” before, right? You don’t want one of those. Your hard-earned money and patience aren’t worth owning something that will end up broken down on the side of the road. Keep your eyes peeled, ask questions and, most importantly, do your research. Signs of a lemon used car.

Know before you buy: don't get caught in a trap.

Before you step foot on a dealer’s lot, you need to have questions ready to ask. Obviously, do your research beforehand. The internet is your friend during this crucial time. There’s plenty of information out there that will help you decide on the car or truck that best fits your needs. One important thing to note is there will always be a vehicle that’s better than it seems. And, on the flip side, while a car may look good, what lies underneath may be another story entirely. Below are the telltale signs of a used car you should steer clear of:

Lack of repair records. Before you even test drive a vehicle, you need to know if the car, truck, or SUV has been in an accident. If you had X-ray vision like Superman, you’d be able to tell if there were any frame issues and other issues under the body. Unfortunately, you don’t have mutant powers, so it’s essential you get your hands on some repair records. 

Demand maintenance receipts. Every car needs its maintenance taken care of, and the car you’re buying is no exception. Receipts on every issue resolved, oil change, fluid replacement and more need to be proven. Any vehicle that is devoid of this information should be dismissed immediately. 

Dents and other visible issues. You worked hard to save your money, and you deserve to be in something that was worth the wait. Don’t bother with any vehicle that has visible dents or dings and has any strong odors. Neglect is no joke and it isn’t worth your time or money.

Stay away from high-performance cars. They’re nice to own, just not used. Ask yourself, “what’s the main reason for buying a performance car?” It’s for the engine, of course. Don’t you think the person before you drove the heck out of that car? The chances of that car’s engine being put to the test and overstressed are fairly high. That’s not a good combination.

Should you buy that used car?

Was the previous owner a smoker? Owning a car that smells like a cigarette can be downright nasty. You’re constantly breathing it in and you’ll most likely smell like a cigarette once you get out of the car. Get a vehicle with an interior that smells brand new. You’ll thank me later. 

Age of the owner. This is important to note if you’re buying from a private seller. Personally, I wouldn’t trust buying a used car from a driver in his or her 20’s. I’d much rather it be an older person, more in the range of 35-50. I’m willing to bet the older demographic takes care of their cars better than a person in their 20’s. 


The best cars to buy used are the ones that are the most reliable. Nobody wants any fits down the road, and ideally, this is a vehicle you’ll want to drive for a few years. As I’ve stated many times before, be prepared with questions and don’t skimp on research. It will help you get into the perfect car. 


Buy a used car from RumbleOn and you'll see the difference. 

RumbleOn provides the best experience to shop used cars. Every vehicle is inspected by a reputable third party and given a Condition Report. In addition, every purchase includes a 3-Day or 150-Mile Money Back Guarantee, 30 days of mechanical repairs for free, and we even offer affordable door-to-door shipping. For the best cars for sale online, visit RumbleOn today!

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Topics: Articles, The Pit Stop, Cars, Trucks

The Pit Boss

Written by The Pit Boss

Seasoned gear head here to give you the ins and outs of all things auto. Car reviews and specs, car maintenance tips, and DIYs are some of the things I cover.

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