You’re driving down the street in your shiny, new car and it feels like nothing can stop you! That is until it starts making a funny noise, stalling unexpectedly or just won’t start. After a trip to the mechanic, it’s more bad news and a hefty repair bill. Exactly the opposite experience you expected when you signed the purchase agreement and bought your new car.
The reality is that cars are expensive, even supposedly ‘cheap’ vehicles aren’t pocket change. The price of a car is up there among expensive life purchases with your home, wedding or child’s education. Is it so much to ask that your vehicle should be reliable?
Like most technology, cars are complicated pieces of machinery, and while we put a lot of faith and trust in them, they are still prone to failure. Lemons, in case you are blissfully unaware, is a term that refers to an automobile with a manufacturer’s or mechanical default that could affect its use, value or, perhaps the scariest possibility, its safety.
Don’t let this deter you from buying a vehicle. The Automobile Protection Association (APA) estimates that only about 1% of all cars on the market are lemons. With that said, it’s still a good idea to be informed of your options should things go awry.
If you Have a Lemon
The Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP) is probably your best bet if you have already contacted the dealership and/or manufacturers but haven’t reached a solution. CAMVAP’s purpose is to aid in dispute resolution with manufacturers, usually within 70 days.
Be aware that the outcome of arbitration is hard-and-fast, and you won’t be able to appeal or pursue the issue further should the decision not be in your favour. Also, you’ll need to meet some basic criteria to qualify for CAMVAP’s assistance. Check their website for more comprehensive information.
Tips to Help you Avoid Buying a Lemon
These tips might be common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat them, just in case.
- Do your research in advance! We can’t stress this enough. Compare makes and models, and read/watch reviews online.
- Have car-related conversations. You should also speak to family, friends, and colleagues, or any trustworthy source, about their cars and past vehicles. Look for trends and patterns in what you read and hear for performance indications.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask the salesperson about the vehicle’s warranty, and return/exchange policies before your purchase.
- Be diligent. Carefully read the purchase agreement before signing it so that you aren’t caught off-guard by an unexpected issue later.
- Check the VIN. Use the Vehicle Identification Number (17 digits on the outside of the windshield on the driver’s side) to check and see if it’s been involved in any past accidents. This will also indicate whether there was a recall or buyback.
- Lastly, trust your gut. We have instincts for a reason and if something doesn’t feel right about the car or the sale ask for some time to consider it. Take time to do a little more research and then follow up on the vehicle. A car purchase shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially with your hard-earned money involved.
In the end, it’s important not to let the possibility of getting a lemon scare you away from buying a vehicle; most purchases go smoothly. Remember that only about 1% of cars on the market are defective beyond repair. So, when you think about it, your chances of getting one are extremely low.
Thankfully, customers have an abundance of information available at their very fingertips via the Internet. The best thing to do is plenty of research in advance, but also be aware of your rights, as well as what resources are available to you should trouble occur. As they say, you can never be too prepared!