The lemon car dealer

  • By Phyron
  • Aug 31, 2023
  •  – 3 min read

My brand new car was a total lemon. The dealer was worse.

The experience has not only coloured my perception of that car brand for half a century. A major European car brand. I have not bought a single car associated with that same COUNTRY! again. Yes, I know it's kind of silly, with virtually all cars being the result of multinational cooperation. But that's car buying for you: Emotions run deep!

It would be unfair to mention WHICH country, or which brand. Because, statistically, you can not draw any conclusion from a single car or a single buyer's experience. And because lots of things must have improved over these 50 years.

But fact remains that I have made at least a dozen car buying decisions affected by that single experience since then. What’s more, over the years I have shared my bad feelings regarding that brand with numerous friends and relatives. Without holding back any details about the dealership involved, like I do here..


As an ignorant, inexperienced first-time buyer I had played it safe and bought a brand new car from an established local dealer. But within the first week i experienced some strange noise and vibrations from the engine.

So, I brought the car straight back to the dealer. Once. Twice. Three times ... before I gave up and demanded to cancel the purchase and get a full return of my money.

I ever got any reasonable explanation beyond "very strange, this is the first time ..." But I vividly remember the service manager saying something about ”iron filings in the motor oil”. (!) And that they couldn’t give me a full refund ”because, after all I had already had the car for nearly two months”.

Of course I should have brought my case to a higher authority but … I was 22, fed up with the whole thing, and desperate to get a decent, working car. So I accepted a sour deal (lemons, right?), found another dealer, bought a used car of a different brand, manufactured in a different country. And traded it in for a newer model a few years later, from the same dealer.

I still don’t know exactly where those iron fillings in the motor oil came from. But I do know that, in spite of their behavior, the dealership in question survived several years more … until they didn’t.

I’m still around, so I kind of won in the end.

Rolf Andersson
Phyron Writer and Editor