How many used cars are actually lemons?

21 February, 2022

RAA is warning buyers to avoid being lumped with a lemon when buying a used car.

Of the 1,934 pre-purchase used cars checked by our Vehicle Inspections team last year, more than 200 were found to have been either stolen, previously written-off, or still had money owing on them. On top of that, more than 130 other cars were also found to have serious faults, which helped customers make informed decisions about their potential purchase.

That means, overall, 17% of cars were dodgier than first thought.

Our “buyer beware’’ warning also comes after two dodgy used car dealers were fined in court this month.

This week a Mawson Lakes man was fined in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court $8100 for attempting to sell more than 20 used cars online and lying about some of their backgrounds.

And earlier this month a Netley man who bought five used cars interstate and wound back the odometers by as much as around 110,000 kilometres was fined $4,000 in the Adelaide Magistrates Court.

RAA motoring expert Mark Borlace warned customers to not be reckless when it came to purchasing a vehicle.

“Demand for used cars has been strong during the pandemic as people have avoided public transport and supplies of new cars have been limited, which has pushed prices up,’’ Mr Borlace said.

“However, we are warning customers to still do their due diligence and not be reckless and potentially waste their money.’’

“If you do unknowingly buy a second-hand car that’s been stolen or still has money owing on it, your vehicle could be repossessed, either by law enforcement or debt collectors.

“Cars declared a structural write off are not allowed back on the road, while those deemed an economic write off have to be repaired to an acceptable standard and checked by a state authority to be registered again, which could be costly and can affect their value.

“Also, if you purchase from a private seller you have no guarantees they will pay any finance that is outstanding on the car.’’

Mr Borlace said it was important buyers did a history and mechanical check on any used car they seriously considering buying or they could potentially be left with a huge repair bill or be out of pocket by paying someone else’s debt.

He said potential buyers can research the history of a car by finding the vehicle identification number (VIN) or chassis number from the vehicle and then checking it on the Commonwealth Government’s Personal Properties Security Register.