What your eLemonators car inspector

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eLemonators Used Car Inspections

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We put the                on Lemons



If it sounds like a fishy deal, it probably is

  * Myth     There is a Lemon law to protect me
Oregon does not have a lemon law that covers used cars. New cars are subject to lemon laws but you are on your own if the car was already owned by another individual or company.

 * Myth     I have 72 hours to return the car
Under tort laws you have 72 hours to return any purchased item that does not function as intended. This applies to any purchase of an automobile unless the vehicle is sold “AS IS”.  This is where you need to be careful. Always base your purchase of an automobile on the contingency that it satisfactorily passes a mechanical inspection. You will likely need a lawyer to implement any return if you buy the car blind. Remember that mechanical issues are not the only factor in determining faulty conditions. “Major mechanical” does not encompass structural damage  in the eyes of many dealerships. The last thing you need is to be stuck with an unsafe LEMON.  YOU CAN NOT JUST RETURN IT WITHIN 72 HOURS IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT OR WORSE YET, BLOWS UP!

 * Lie     “You can’t have an inspection because the car is too good of a deal”.
For the seller this may seem true but not for you. If the car is too good of a deal there is a reason for it. The seller doesn’t want to invest in repairs if they are selling the car at such a good price but you need to know what it will take to make the car roadworthy. Many times the repair costs will exceed the value of the car several times over. You may be better off paying a more money for a better car.

 * Lie     “It’s just a fuse”!
If you are looking at a car that seems to have a few electrical issues, the common sales pitch is usually “IT’S JUST A FUSE”. Keep in mind that if it was just a fuse it would likely be replaced by the seller by the time you see the car and everything would be working------right? The fact is that a blown fuse generally means there is a much bigger problem causing it  to fail. It may not even be a fuse at all, but likely a serious wiring problem. The fuse may blow again and again until you find the source of the problem. This advice also holds true to “IT’S JUST A LOOSE SPARE TIRE”,(actually rear suspension noise from accident), “IT’S JUST BEEN SITTING FOR A WHILE”(actually the smoke out the tail pipe would indicate something much worse), “IT’S JUST HAD THE ENGINE CLEANED,” (actually oil burning off the engine from a bad valve cover gasket), and the list goes on.

 * Myth     Certified used cars are a safe bet
Use extreme caution when considering a CERTIFIED vehicle. Even if they come with a warranty you may be getting yourself into trouble if you’re not careful. A car in very poor condition can often run without problems for a year or so. The word CERTIFIED means nothing more than what the seller thinks it does. Factory certified vehicles stand a better chance of being reliable but they are only as good as certifier. I have seen cars that were badly wrecked make factory certification that I would not personally drive. Mechanical issues might be OK but what good are they if you can’t keep the car straight on the road.
 * Lie     “The car has been through our shop and it checks out perfect”
In some cases this may be close to true but nothing is perfect. The dealership service department has an obvious bias and an independent inspection would be highly advised. I have been to dealerships where most every car checks out fine but this is the exception and not the rule. Even reputable dealer service departments don’t check things that aren’t obvious. Infrared testing of the cooling system for example is a sophisticated but essential  test to eliminate potential cooling system failures.  Many service departments don’t even have the equipment required to make these determinations.

 * Myth     It is safer to buy at a dealer
This is about as big a myth as there is. Sure they legally have to disclose structural or major mechanical issues if they know about them but rarely do. If the car is salvaged they would be foolish not to make the disclosure but beyond that, WATCH OUT. Dealers are very good at twisting consumer laws to favor themselves. “We have to disclose if the car has been wrecked” really means they have to disclose whether the car has been totaled. The car may have been inches from being totaled but it does not mean that the structural integrity has not been compromised. Private sellers are not required to disclose information unless they are directly asked. If you buy from a private party ALWAYS ASK to see the title. Look for a brand on it and check to see if the name on the title matches the person selling the car. You must use the same precautions when buying from a private party but if they have had it for a long period of time you might be safer with the purchase. Always ask to see the maintenance records. Dealers rarely have owners manuals let alone maintenance records available for you to review. Not all dealers are unscrupulous but they have been stigmatized by the ones that are. Check with the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List or find the ratings of a dealership before you do business with them.

 * Myth     As is sticker on window says the car has warranty. 
Ask yourself if 50% of the cost of repairs performed at the dealers service department is really a warranty. If the repair cost is $100.00 and it is billed out at $200.00, You pay half of the bill but you are still paying the full cost of the repair. Many times the repairs are not even done by certified technicians and shortcuts are not uncommon. At the bottom of the AS IS sticker it states, ask if you can have this vehicle checked by an independent source means you have that right. Don’t even ask! Just tell them you will have someone out to check it.

                                                                                                    Bottom part of form

This is a portion of the FTC- AS IS NO WARRANTY RULE

The Used Car Rule is primarily intended to prevent oral misrepresentations and unfair omissions of material facts by used car dealers concerning warranty coverage. The Rule requires clear disclosure through a window sticker, called the "Buyers Guide," of any warranty coverage and the terms and conditions of any dealer-offered warranty, including the duration of warranty coverage and the percentage of total repair costs that the dealer will pay. The Rule also requires certain additional disclosures on the Buyers Guide, including: a suggestion that consumers ask the dealer if a pre-purchase inspection is permitted; a warning against reliance on spoken promises that are not confirmed in writing; and a list of the fourteen major systems of an automobile and defects that can occur in these systems.
In addition, the Rule provides that the Buyers Guide disclosures are incorporated into the sales contract. Dealers are required to place a specific, two-sentence disclosure in the sales contract informing the purchaser that, in the event of any inconsistency between the Buyers Guide and the sales contract, the information on the Buyers Guide will govern. The Rule also requires dealers to give a copy of the Buyers Guide reflecting the final warranty terms to the purchaser.


  The AS IS or WARRANTED sale of this vehicle is contingent upon buyers complete, uncontested acceptance of a pre-purchase inspection performed by a professional automobile technician. The results of the inspection may include major and minor mechanical, structural integrity, Steering, suspension, electrical, appliances, cosmetic and environmental exposure issues. This does not require the seller to make any repairs on the vehicle beyond required emissions repairs unless mutual agreement is made by buyer and seller. Delivery of this vehicle will not be finalized until the report is completed or within ____ hours (no less than 72 hours), whichever occurs first.

Seller agrees to refund all money exchanged in this transaction if this automobile does not meet buyers expectations based on the inspection results. An exchange of vehicles is acceptable only if buyer agrees.  

Buyers signature _____________________________________

Sellers signature _____________________________________

Date __________________ Time __________________


When the used car transaction is conducted in Spanish, the Rule requires that the dealer display a Spanish-language version of the Buyers Guide on the vehicle prior to offering the vehicle for sale. The Rule includes a text for the Spanish-language version.
THIS LINK WILL TAKE YOU TO THE DETAILED DOCUMENT. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/guides/usedcar-comply.shtm

 * Myth     CarFax reports will inform me about all the problems
“Free Lemon check” only means that if the car was reported as a “Lemon buy back” by the manufacturer it will show on the report. This does not mean the car is not a Lemon!  Lemons come in many forms. Only accidents that are reported will show on the report. As you know not all accidents are reported to the state.  If maintenance was performed at an independent repair facility they will not be listed on the report. Many states do not require reporting of totaled vehicles. Flood cars, totaled, salvaged, or reconstructed vehicles can easily slip under the radar. Carfax guarantee only covers what information they are given. Never totally rely on the information given in a Carfax report!

                                                        You can also go to vehiclehistorys.com for a much less expensive vehicle history report. 
                                                         if you want one. Again, these are not reliable for previous damage or flood.

 * Myth    If I buy on contingency I can get my money back
Read the fine print carefully. chances are they will only let you bring the car back to exchange it for another car. Not to get your money back. “Money back” if the car has problems, it has to be put in writing. The best way to cure this problem is to not take possession of the vehicle after an agreement is reached. Once the tail lights are seen leaving the lot, the car is yours! Leave the car there and the eLemonators will go on sight to inspect the vehicle. Or better yet, have the car checked before you sign anything. It is not legal for a dealership to deny an independent on-sight inspection.

 * Lie     “I just pulled the car from the back lot for your convenience”
A cold start of the engine can determine many anomalies such as rod knocks, piston slap, visible smoke, valve train noise,  transmission issues and other problems that would indicate abuse or wear. These symptoms can be masked by a car that has been started and run for only a few seconds. The dealership is not likely pulling the car to the front lot from the back lot just for your convenience. They are getting rid of the telltale signs of engine problems such as smoke and rattles produced by the cold starting engine. Many transmission symptoms can also be covered up by warming it up. If you meet a private seller at a rendezvous location it may be for the same reason. They also may not want you to know where they live if they are a curb-stoner. A curb-stoner is an individual that sells more than 5 cars a year without a dealers license and often acquires the vehicles he sells from undesirable sources. 

 * Myth    “This car comes with a factory warranty”
This is great if the warranty has not been voided for some reason or another. Mileage rollback, overheating, running low on oil, physical damage (even if not major), unreported flood damage and aggressive driving, are among  a few things that will totally void a factory warranty. The only way to know if these problems exist is to have the car checked when it has not been run for 6-8 hours. This is why an on site inspection is preferred over taking the car to a shop. The COLD START is an important factor in determining whether the car has been abused in some way.

 * Lie     “I’m not a dealer”
During your search you will very likely run across a curb-stoner. Selling more than 5 cars per year is illegal so they must sell the car with someone else’s name on the title. They will usually tell you they are selling it as a private party but If they tell you they are selling it for someone else be careful. They might be telling the truth but they are not exactly being honest with you in many cases. If you think that a seller is curb-stoning just write down all the information you can. Vehicle identification number (located on the dash at the drivers side lower windshield), the plate #, and a PHONE #. HINT--The PHONE # can be entered into a Google search for some telling information. If you see other cars for sale or other items for sale you could very well be dealing with a curb-stoner. This may not be such a bad thing as far as the car is concerned but the seller is engaging in illegal activity and he has already lied to you!http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/guides/usedcar-comply.shtmhttp://www.vehiclehistorys.com/shapeimage_27_link_0shapeimage_27_link_1


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