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Find a good used car, avoid buying a lemon

By Jessica Rodrigo
July 25, 2014 at 2:25 a.m.
Updated July 26, 2014 at 2:26 a.m.

Creed Galbraith, 24, of Victoria, changes the air filter on a Ford F-150 at his shop, Bubby's Lube and Car Care on Mockingbird Lane in Victoria.

When can a car owner use the Texas Lemon Law?

If you have purchased or leased a new motor vehicle, and it develops a defect or condition that substantially impairs the motor vehicle's use, market value or safety, you may be eligible for relief under the Texas Lemon Law. You are required to allow the manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to repair the defect(s) before you file a complaint for Lemon Law relief. A $35 filing fee is required with the submission of the Lemon Law complaint form. The number of reasonable attempts may vary based upon the defect's effect on the normal operation of the motor vehicle.

SOURCE: DMV.ORG/BUY-SELL/USED-CARS/CERTIFIED-PRE-OWNED.PHP#WHAT-IS-A-CPO-VEHICLE-

Buying a car can be scary.

Shopping for a used car can prove to be a more daunting task.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid buying a lemon.

Know what certified means.

There are certified used cars and there are used cars. A certified used car is inspected and repaired by a mechanic and given some sort of guarantee or warranty, according to dmv.org. The biggest difference is the warranty or guarantee is included.

Mileage counts.

Depending on the vehicle, mileage may or may not be a big deal. Cars with more than 150,000 miles are still reliable cars because of the way engines are built nowadays, said Gary Moore, salesman for Premier Auto Sales. "They have better motors, and transmissions last longer."

Paint jobs can tell a story.

If there is paint missing on a bumper, fender or hood, there's possible a story behind it. Moore said to run a finger or hand along a fender to feel for creases or bumps.

New car smell.

Car dealerships often have their cars detailed before they hit the sales lot. It's easy to see whether the owner before you kept the car in good shape.

Cool air is a must.

Make sure the air conditioning is working. It's essential in the Crossroads to have a car with a working air conditioner. Turn it up during a test drive and open all the vents. Try the heater, too, to make sure it's in working order.

Look under the hood.

Make sure it's clean; no oily spots or caked-on dirt. Make sure all the hoses are tightly in place. Red flags include dark oil and low fluid levels and spots under a car.

Be nosy.

Ask for the Carfax or some other form of car history. It's easy to look online if a car has been involved in a wreck or other incidents that raise red flags.

Look for lights.

If signals in the dash are lit up, talk to the dealer/seller to see what he or she is going to do to fix it. Signals can range from telling when a door is open to low air pressure in the tires.

Take it for a spin.

A 10-minute drive at a leisurely pace will not reveal any problems hidden within a used car. Be sure to take the car through neighborhoods, busy streets and on the highway. It's easy to identify problems at a high speed, said Creed Galbraith, owner of Bubby's Lube and Car Care in Victoria, including alignment or brake problems.

Have a professional look at it.

If you have a reliable mechanic, take the car to him or her for a look-see. Running a diagnostics test might help, too. It's like a health screening done on a car.

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