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Lemon Squad Review – Pre-Purchase Used Car Inspections

By David Bakke

lemon squad logoAn increasing amount of people are buying cars via the Internet, sight unseen beyond digital photographs. In fact, Craigslist and eBay Motors have both experienced recent rises in auto sales. If you’re considering an out-of-state auto purchase or would like peace of mind on a local sale, consider a pre-purchase inspection. While most sellers are honest, some simply are not – and others may not even know the condition of the car they want to sell you.

If you’re concerned about the condition of a vehicle you wish to purchase, Lemon Squad may be just what you need. The company offers a variety of different inspection packages for both automobiles and RVs.

How It Works

Ordering an inspection is simple: Enter the year, make, and model of the vehicle you wish to have inspected, and choose an inspection package. Then, enter the location of the vehicle and your personal information. You have the option to add a CARFAX report for an additional $25, or an engine oil analysis for $109.95. A CARFAX report provides details of the auto’s history, including accidents, ownership history, and service records, while an engine oil analysis can identify developing problems in the car’s engine.

You can pay online with a credit card or via PayPal, or over the phone between the hours of 8am and 5pm CST. Once your order is completed, a local ASE-certified inspector contacts the seller to schedule the inspection appointment. Most inspections are performed by the end of the next business day after your purchase is made. Lemon Squad sends you an email confirming that the inspection has been scheduled, and again when your report is ready – which is typically within 24 hours after the inspection is complete.
lemon squad

Inspection Packages

Lemon Squad offers four different types of inspections:

  • Basic ($119.95). Vehicles with a model year of 1986 or newer are eligible for the Basic inspection. You get a detailed, 80-point inspection which covers the interior, exterior, and engine, along with an individual tire check, which provides details on the make, size, and tread depth of each tire. More than 20 photos of the interior, exterior, engine, tires, and underbody are included, along with a synopsis of all issues found. A road test is performed unless the seller or dealer does not agree to one.
  • Premium ($149.95). To select this option, the car must be a model year 1996 or newer. The report includes everything that comes with the basic inspection, along with a diagnostic engine and transmission scan, and a report on the condition of the anti-lock braking system and air bags (if the car comes with such features).
  • Classic Car Inspection ($299.95). This inspection is for cars made no later than 1985. The inspector conducts a basic inspection, but also pays close attention to age deterioration and the condition of body parts (like fenders and doors) that may have been subject to cosmetic cover-up. The report includes 10 additional photos which focus on scratches or other damage to the interior or exterior.
  • RV Inspection ($299.95). Lemon Squad also inspects RVs of all model years. The inspector checks for structural integrity and does a visual check of the engine, chassis, body, doors, window, and roof. An interior inspection is also performed, focusing on cabinetry, upholstery, floors, furnishings, and other miscellaneous items. The generator and any appliances are also tested. This inspection comes with 30 photos of the interior, exterior, engine, tires, and underbody.

lemon squad screenshot

Advantages

  1. Solid Customer Service. If you have a question, you can call, email, or chat with a representative anytime between the hours of 8am and 5pm CST any day of the week. There is a minimal phone wait, and the representative I spoke to was helpful, informed, and courteous. Emails sent during the week are typically responded to in less than 24 hours.
  2. Convenient. The inspection order process only takes a few minutes, and Lemon Squad offers pre-purchase vehicle inspections for the entire United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.
  3. Secure. The Lemon Squad website uses an encrypted iFrame payment system to ensure the safety of personal information.
  4. FAQ Section. The FAQ section is comprehensive and well-organized and can answer most of your questions.
  5. Trustworthy. Lemon Squad is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has had no registered complaints in the last three years.
  6. Prompt Service. Most inspections are performed before the end of the next business day after you purchase, and your report is usually available within 24 hours of the inspection.
  7. Comprehensive. The inspection covers the exterior, interior, and mechanical functionality of the car.
  8. Convenient Payment Options. You can pay online or by phone with a credit card, or you can pay via PayPal.

Disadvantages

  1. Limited Refund Policy. If you order an inspection, you only have three hours to cancel. If you cancel after this brief window of time, you’re charged a $25 cancellation fee. Also, if the seller doesn’t show for the inspection, you still get charged the full amount. But if you order an inspection and the car is sold prior to the inspection, then a full refund will be issued.
  2. No Guarantee. The only claim the website makes is that all parts covered by the inspection will be reported on accurately. In other words, if something goes wrong with an item reported on after you purchase, Lemon Squad will assume no liability.
  3. Limited Value. If you have a preferred mechanic, you may be able to get a comparable inspection performed for less. Call your repair shop first to see if they can give you a better deal.

Final Word

If you’re purchasing a car that is not in your immediate area, a Lemon Squad pre-purchase car inspection offers good value and peace of mind. However, you may still want to investigate cheaper options before you complete your order. It’s also a good idea to get the CARFAX report through the site, since you’ll save $10 off the regular price. But whatever you decide, always inspect the car on your own as thoroughly as possible. It’s up to you to make the most prudent decision possible when buying a car.

Have you had any personal experience with Lemon Squad?

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • Rod

    I used Andy Dabbs Lemon Squad, and bought a Lemon. Report was error ridden and very inaccurate. Read my review on Yelp. Asked specifically that there be no bondo/rust.
    Was assured it was show condition, one of the best they had seen. But when I got it, I could see bondo from 10 feet away, and plenty of rust and numerous mehanical faults from close-up .Plenty of photo’s, but all just avoided showing the suspect area’s. Even though Andy dismissed the inspector and agreed that they had let me down, he has left me thousands of $ out of pocket. The inspector, according to Andy, denied being the inspector involved at first, but after being described by the seller, agreed he did it. That should have been enough of a warning that something untoward had happened at inspection. This report was only of any use to the seller, but I asked and paid for it.
    Andy suggested I sue the inspector, not his problem., I believe he could have pursued his inspector, this was not a normal little problem that an inspection could have missed, this was in your face easy to see defects, plenty of them, and not covered or concealed by seller. He employed the inspector, he is the CEO, I thought that CEO’s take good care of customers and their company. The way the disclaimer reads, it seems to say, regardless of any omissions , errors, untruths in the report or an inspector having a bad day, even if get it wrong, like they did with me,you will only be getting your inspection fee back. Hope this helps others avoid my situation.

    • David Bakke

      Wow!–Thanks for sharing–our other readers will appreciate this. Sorry you had such an awful experience.

  • Rod.

    Had a phone call from Andy Dabbs a few days ago, I am really still not sure why he called, except maybe to tell me I was the only person to be left in this situation by Lemon Squad. But I have found another review on Yelp by another disgruntled customer, that seems to have a similar outcome to me.
    He did say they have re-worded their disclaimer clause, maybe that was his reason for calling. I did have a brief read of it, but it actually seems to confirm , the way they treated me, will continue in the future. I was hoping I would see an insurance against substandard inspections.

  • Lovin LemonSquad

    I used Lemon Squad last week to inspect a 1990 Chevy Camaro. and they were great. There were some issues with worn struts that would cost more to fix than the car is worth. Me not being a mechanic would have never known that and would have been out of a lot of money. Thanks Lemon Squad!!

    • David Bakke

      Glad it worked out well for you, and thanks for commenting!

  • Jtgbs

    love lemon oil in my ensalada

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.clanton.52 Jim Clanton

    Lemonsquad did not show up when scheduled and I received no update from LS to that effect. The dealer was notified and brought it to my attention. The inspection was rescheduled to the next day at 10:00 AM but the inspector was 1.5 hours late. It was kind of a big deal because I was trying to get the deal done in time to meet a transport shipment.

    At any rate I called Lemon Squad when the inspector was late, and received a return call from Andy, who was borderlinee hostile. He stated the conversation by telling me that the ,dealer cancelled the inspection, not the inspector not the inspector. Someone is lying and I was caught in the middle I told him. My gut tells me it is Lemonsquad, mayby the inspector, but I will never know. At anyrate, I think LS should have notified me when the inspection was delayed, and Andy did not need need to be hostile.

    As for the inspection, it was OK. The car is relatively new with a clean carfax, I really only wanted a few more independent photos which I got. If I had it to do over I would have had the car taken to a local dealer .

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