What to look for when purchasing a used GEM

I’m currently in the market for a used GEM car, and was wondering what things to look for in assessing the quality and condition of the vehicle. For example, is there a way to check the state of the battery or the condition of the motor? I’m specifically looking at the e6 model, so anything particular to that model would be great. Thanks in advance

Since you are only looking for an E6 six seater, I have included suggestions pertaining to the 2005 and newer production GEMs.

Jack up the car and shake and spin the wheels to find any loose steering parts or worn bearings. GEM does not sell rear wheel bearings as a separate part, but a competent repair shop can replace the two #6006 ball bearings for you. Rear wheel cylinders will start to leak after a few years, but these are not expensive. Listen for excessive noise from the motor and trans axle. Newer production GEMs should be reasonably quiet. There has been debate about what gear oil to use in the trans axle. The parking brake handle assembly has been recalled. If the car has original hard doors, make sure they operate correctly. The hinges and and release mechanisms are prone to breakage. Check all of the shock absorbers and rear suspension bushings. After so many years, they have likely worn out. For sealed batteries, charge and then check with a hand held load tester. Flooded batteries should also be hydrometer tested. With a full charge, drive the car and take note of its range. Also, test the brakes, parking brake, and steering. Push down hard on each end of the GEM to check for excessive rebound (bad shocks). Make sure the serial number on the GEM matches the paperwork.


Check the batteries. We had our batteries tested, and replaced one. Now two years later we need to get 5 new batteries. I wish I had known beforehand, but 2 years on a 6 year old car isn’t bad.

Battery life will vary considerably depending on a number of conditions. The climate where the GEM is operated and stored will affect battery life. Very cold climate is hard on batteries especially if they are left undercharged. Very hot climate causes flooded batteries to gas more which will reduce service life if water levels are not consistently maintained. Physical terrain such as steep hills are hard on the batteries, reduce the range, and increase the likelihood that the batteries will be deeply discharged. Hard driving and heavy loads will have the same effect. Improper maintenance can significantly reduce battery life. This includes checking water level, using distilled water, setting the charger for the correct battery type, charging the battery immediately after use, and exercising the GEM regularly. The most common question I get here is “My GEM sat plugged in all winter and now it won’t drive.” Just break the circuit every week so the charger restarts. Drive it periodically. If you have the old Schott brand charger, replace it with a Zivan. If your Zivan is an older one that hasn’t been “micro upgraded,” get it done. All these things will lead to longer battery life. We have typically gotten five years out of good flooded or GEL batteries. Cheap batteries are just not worth the trouble.