5 secrets to avoid buying a lemon car

In one of our most recent posts we told you just what a lemon car is (although obviously, it’s not something you can expect to find amongst our own online vehicle auctions here at RAW2K). Obviously the next logical question is: how can you afford buying one?

Now, before we dive right into the answer, it’s worth us saying that though it’s annoying from the buyer’s point of view, it is theoretically possible to accidentally or innocently sell someone a lemon - so if you get one from a private buyer, don’t bite their heads off immediately. If you mention it to them in a polite manner and provide proof, you may well find that they’re more accommodating than you thought! That said, obviously you don’t want to be buying a lemon if you can possibly avoid it, so here are the best ways to avoid it.

1. Check the paperwork

OK, we didn’t necessarily say they were exciting secrets. And even though it sounds obvious, you might be surprised at how many people don’t do this as thoroughly as they should! The V5C should be at the top of your list. Otherwise known as the vehicle registration document, or the logbook (though it’s not actually a book), it should prove that the registered keeper of the vehicle is the same person as the one who’s selling it. If not, you have to ask why!

While you’re at it, also make sure you get a full service history with a vehicle check from a registered mechanic or breakdown company. You’ll also want to examine the MOT certificates carefully; the mileage should be in line with the service history and odometer. (In fact, while you’re checking the odometer, it’s worth checking to see if there are any worn screws around the panels, which could indicate that it’s been tampered with.) If the annual mileage is particularly low, or even at zero, that could be a clue to the fact that the car has been off the road. Now, it’s not technically illegal to sell a car with an advisory notice. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that this will probably soon translate to a couple of imminent repairs.

2. Crunch the numbers

Even if you’re buying privately, the same rules apply here as they do to any of our British vehicle auctions here at RAW2K. Before you go anywhere near a vehicle, you need to draw up a budget for yourself, including a general price range, and stick to it! It’s more about just the cost of the car outright, though. You’ll also need to think about the market value of the car, what effect it’ll have on your insurance, how far and how frequently you travel, and the car’s fuel efficiency, and the general cost of fuel, service and maintenance costs. It’s a long list, but it’s better to do your research early than end up with some unexpected costs further down the line - when it’s far too late!

3. Put it through its paces

If you’re buying privately, a test drive is more than a formality. It’s your one (and possibly only) chance to get to know the car a bit before you buy it. Feel the controls, and don’t be afraid to take it out on the dual carriageway to see how it performs at higher speeds. Is anything rattling, or creaking? Test the clutch for a high biting point, and the brakes for a stiff response. It’s important to focus on the conditions you’ll most be using the car in, too - whether that’s short city journeys or cross-country driving. If you’re able to, it’s also a good idea to get a professional mechanic to give it the once over, too, so that you can get a second opinion that you can objectively trust.

Of course, you can always trust our own online car auctions here at RAW2K. We make sure that all our listings are open, transparent and easy to understand, so that you can get all the key information at a glance. We’ve got a huge range of used, seized and salvage vehicles, from leading manufacturers including Ford, Vauxhall and Peugeot. Why not take a look around our site, and see what you can find?