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Steer clear of lemons: Checks for buying a brand-new car

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Lemon Law

So, you’ve set your sights on a brand-new car in Texas – congratulations! It’s an exciting time, and with all the bells and whistles dealerships offer, it’s easy to get swept away and overlook crucial details.

Texans have a powerful tool in their arsenal: the Texas Lemon Law. But to truly help protect yourself from ending up with a “lemon” – a car plagued by persistent problems – taking some proactive steps are essential.

Do your research: Beyond the brochure

The internet is your friend! Research the specific make and model you’re interested in. Read reviews from car critics and everyday drivers. You can check for commonly reported problems and investigate if there have been any safety recalls on that particular model. Resources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website allow you to search a vehicle’s history for recalls and safety ratings.

Understand the warranty: Read the fine print

New car warranties typically offer comprehensive coverage for a set period or mileage limit. However, warranties can be complex documents. Don’t just rely on the salesperson’s explanation. Take the time to read the warranty yourself and understand what’s covered and what’s not and the specific procedures for getting repairs done. State law mandates that dealerships provide a written copy of the warranty upon request.

Get a pre-purchase inspection: A second set of eyes

While a brand-new car should be in tip-top shape, a pre-purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic can provide invaluable peace of mind. Look for a mechanic who is independent of the dealership and specializes in your car’s make. They can identify any potential issues that might not be readily apparent during a test drive. This small investment can save you a lot of headaches (and money) down the road.

Know your rights: The Texas lemon law

The Lone Star State has a strong lemon law in place to protect car buyers. It would help if you familiarized yourself with its provisions. In essence, the law applies to new cars that experience a “substantial defect” covered by the warranty within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Suppose the dealer fails to repair the issue after a reasonable number of attempts (typically four attempts for the same defect). In that case, you may be eligible for a replacement vehicle or a refund under the Lemon Law.

By following these key checks and seeking legal guidance, you can significantly increase your chances of driving away from the dealership in a reliable and trouble-free car. Remember, buying a car is a significant investment. Take your time, do your research and don’t be pressured into making a decision you’re not comfortable with. Happy car shopping!