An 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Secure. The Lemon Squad website uses an encrypted iFrame payment system to ensure the safety of personal information.
- FAQ Section. The FAQ section is comprehensive and well-organized and can answer most of your questions.
- Trustworthy. Lemon Squad is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has had no registered complaints in the last three years.
- 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.
- Comprehensive. The inspection covers the exterior, interior, and mechanical functionality of the car.
- Convenient Payment Options. You can pay online or by phone with a credit card, or you can pay via PayPal.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?