You wanted a cherry car, instead you got a lemon

What is our obsession with using fruit to describe the things of the world? You can compare apples to apples or apples to oranges, and cars in excellent condition are considered cherries. Let’s not forget the lemon. There doesn’t seem to be a solid explanation for exactly when people started calling bad cars “lemons,” but we all know why. Lemons are sour, they leave a bad taste in your mouth and, when it comes to cars, nobody wants them.

According to a survey conducted by YourMechanic, more than two-thirds of lemon cars begin to show symptoms within the first month of ownership. Of the lemons declared, 65% were purchased from a dealer. Seeing the results, he makes a clear argument for the importance of a pre-purchase inspection— no matter where you buy your vehicle.

What makes a lemon

According to, a car is considered a “lemon” when a vehicle is determined to be defective beyond repair. These defects must be substantial, affecting the actual operation of the car. Items such as ignition, brakes, transmission, engine, and other important parts can qualify a vehicle as a lemon.

In its survey, YourMechanic found that the most commonly reported issue was the brakes. Additional parts that frequently caused problems were the starter, suspension system, engine, and radiator.

The investigation also revealed that:

  • 60% of Lemon owners spent over $5,000 on the faulty vehicle.
  • 41% of these vehicles broke down while driving on the road.
  • 68% of them started showing signs within a month of purchase.

Check before you buy

Whether you’re buying a new or used car, it’s important to know what you get. If you’re buying a used vehicle, have a certified mechanic inspect the car before you buy it. According to Edmunds, this is the most often ignored car buying tip. When it comes to buying a used car, this inspection can save you time, money, and hassle down the road.

In a separate study, YourMechanic asked consumers who had recently purchased a used car if they had had a pre-purchase inspection done. 72% said they don’t, while 76% said they didn’t know third-party services were available for pre-purchase inspections.

It is recommended that a potential purchase be inspected by a mechanic you trust. You not only have to find out what is wrong, but also what is wrong with the vehicle. Have them check equipment or options, confirm condition level, check body and chassis for hidden damage, and code the engine.

You can buy with confidence if the inspection report is clean, or renegotiate or give up if it is not. Most sellers will have the vehicle inspected, either at a store or at their home, if it is a private sale. Beware if a seller refuses.

Protect your purchase

In the United States, each state has its own “lemon laws” to help consumers who find themselves stuck with faulty cars. According to, about 150,000 new cars each year are lemons. In order to take advantage of applicable laws, in most states a car must (1) have a substantial defect covered by warranty that occurred within a certain time frame or mileage; and (2) not be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

Usually, these lemon laws only apply to new vehicles. However, some states pass used car laws, while several others require used cars to be sold with warranties that offer limited protection. According to, you can check with your state’s consumer protection office to find out if used cars are covered in your state.

The essential

Don’t be stuck with a sour buy if you have a lemon. To leave Auto Express Credit help you navigate your next vehicle purchase with confidence. We match people with credit problems with one of the dealers in our network. They have lenders in place ready to deal with many types of credit situations. Take your first step by filling out our online form car loan application form now. As always, there is no cost or obligation.

Gladys T. Hensley