What is a lemon car?

If you’ve looked through a couple of online car auctions before browsing our own here at RAW2K, you may well have come across the term lemon car before. So, you may be asking, what exactly is a lemon car? Well essentially, it’s a term used for a car (often new, but not necessarily) which turns out to have a serious defect that affects its ability to properly guarantee your safety, its reliable operation, or its overall value. Lemon car is originally an American term but it entered British use over time, replacing other slightly more dated words like a dud, or a pup.

What makes a car a lemon?

Because it’s mostly an informal term for us here in the UK, there aren’t any strict guidelines as such. Generally though, the title of a lemon is generally given to type of used car that’s been sold under the buyer’s understanding that it will be a reliably functioning or suitably valuable car. To earn the definition of being a lemon, it will have some serious defect or fault which will affect its safety, financial or otherwise usable value for its new owner. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see why used cars are at greater danger of being called lemons!

One common type of lemon car often encountered in the UK is a so-called Cut and Shut. These types of cars have been repaired (sometimes fraudulently or dangerously) by buying a written off car, and then removing the most badly damaged section to replace it with a new one from a matching vehicle. Now, the important thing to note is that this isn’t necessarily illegal, as long as they’re legally declared to the proper authorities. Since the addition of such a large replacement part makes it an entirely new car, it has to be inspected for road worthiness, assigned a new registration number. It also has to pass its MOT, under exactly the same conditions that normal cars would be required to pass. If they’re successful, they earn themselves a Q registration. This denotes that they’re a composite car, not an original one.

Unfortunately, not every vehicle repairer is quite that scrupulous. Most Cut and Shuts have earned their name because they have been repaired in a hurried or poorly attentive manner. There’s a reason that most Cut and Shuts are viewed as being highly dangerous - it’s not unheard of for the welds or bolts to come apart at high speed. And unfortunately, in real life it’s not an adorable Looney-Tunes scenario, but a situation which has the potential to cause multiple deaths.

Of course, not every lemon car is quite that dangerous, but it just goes to show why they can make so many used car buyers quite so uneasy!

We guarantee no lemons here at RAW2K

We deal in a wide variety of used and salvage vehicles here at RAW2K, many of which are written off anyway. For those that are in working condition, our listings will provide a rough indication of the sorts of faults that you might be able to expect with the car, so that you can make a reasoned decision as to whether you want to purchase it. Why not take a quick look around our site, and see what you can find?