Finanztest editor michael bruns tried to sell his euro 5 diesel – at berlin dealers and via online portals. The good news: there are still dealers who buy diesel cars – despite the emissions scandal. The bad: the price is poor. Here our editor describes what he experienced.
My car looks like new and is in top condition
Actually, I don’t want to sell my car. It is well maintained, looks like new, has been inspected regularly, has no technical defects and at most tiny scratches that can only be seen on closer inspection. But the diesel crisis is unsettling: what if I’m hit by driving bans?? How to get to work? Would it be more reasonable to switch to a petrol car now?
Prices have plummeted drastically
It’s hard to sell a euro 5 diesel at the moment, explains the central association of the german motor vehicle trade (Zentralverband deutsches kfz-gewerbe). Although it is far from clear when and where there will be driving bans, prices have fallen dramatically. A third of dealers say the price drop is 30 to 50 percent. 11 percent report euro 5 diesel wouldn’t get rid of them at all at present. My car, a c-class station wagon, is seven years old. I bought it used four years ago for 16,000 euros.
Used car dealers only take diesel on consignment
first, i try five used car dealers in berlin. Only one would buy my car. The price is low: 6 500 euro. The others wave it off: "diesels are flat on their tires here," they say. One thing strikes me: the posters "car purchase" and "cash immediately" are badly worn out. but brand new is the sign: "diesel in commission". It’s clear: he doesn’t take any risks and doesn’t even buy them in the first place. My car would be allowed to sit in his yard, but would remain in my possession. If a buyer is found, the dealer takes a commission.
Next try: online exchange
Next I will go to the internet. The mobile portal.De says it is "germany’s largest car exchange" with 1.4 million vehicles. Autoscout24 stresses that it is the "largest online marketplace in europe" with over 2.4 million. No matter. Since advertisements are free of charge, there is no reason not to use both in parallel. The quickest way to see how much my car could fetch is to enter the manufacturer and model under "buy", along with details such as year of manufacture, mileage, color, etc. Then the portals show ads for similar models. Most are offered at prices between 8 500 and 11 500 euros. now i could upload additional photos in the "sell" section and name my selling price.
Independent. Objective. Incorruptible.
Express sale on the internet
Even easier is the express sale. Both portals advertise that the process is particularly quick and uncomplicated: no long search for interested parties, no annoying price negotiations, no test drives, but money immediately. You sell the car to one of the affiliated dealers and you get rid of it immediately. I will try this.
At mobile.De at the beginning, it’s a breeze: just enter the basic data such as model, first registration, mileage, and the system gives you the "possible purchase price" – 8,150 euros. So I go to the buying station. It is located on the outskirts of town, in the neighborhood a junkyard. A gravel road leads to a rather small car dealer who deals mainly with older used cars.
The man looks at the car mainly from the outside. He frowns: "it’ll have to be inspected soon. The brake discs have to be new." but that is not "decisive for the war". Rather, that he has a huge problem with diesels at the moment. Nobody wants to buy. He points to a fat volvo. "the price is super cheap, but i can’t get rid of it. It has been going on for two months."
His advice: now is a bad time to sell it. "better to wait until the uncertainty subsides and it is clear whether there are driving bans." the price that mobile.De calls me on the internet, he will not pay in any case: "they have not taken into account the fall in prices for diesels. If I take your car, it will be for 6,000 euros at the most."that’s it, that’s all he can be persuaded to do.
At autoscout24 the express sale runs like an auction. After entering the vehicle data, the site gives the "estimated selling price": only 7 600 euros. Then the data goes to the "vehicle experts" for separate evaluation. And they suggest – after about an hour’s wait – only 6,000 euros as the minimum selling price by e-mail.
the problem: if i agree, i have to sell the car as soon as someone offers that amount. Only dealers can bid on express sales. The whole process takes one to three days. After that I have 24 hours to accept a bid. If I do not sell, 149 euros cancellation fee will be due.
A technical inspection does not take place. Therefore it is important to describe the car exactly and not to gloss over anything. Once the description has been submitted, it can only be changed with the help of customer service. The portal explicitly requires that all information is "complete and truthful". If not, the dealer can refuse the purchase. Even then I would have to pay 149 euro cancellation fee.
We buy a car
Through its television advertising is the portal wirkaufendeinauto widely known. Whether the company also offers more? Excited I enter the vehicle data on the Internet. Then the answer: 9 357 euro – wow!
Full of anticipation I go to the car appraisal. Then a mechanic takes a look at the car. The man is rather monosyllabic. He sends me to the lounge. through the window i see him driving the car onto the lift, running the engine and writing something down again and again.
What exactly, he will not say. The price his colleagues would make. A few hours later an e-mail arrives: 6 023 euro – disappointing, a good third less than promised. The online offer acts like a bait and switch. the verbraucherzentrale nordrhein-westfalen reports that many customers complain about exactly this problem. But you can leave the car right there and get money, they say. I would get rid of it immediately. This is tempting for people who do not want a lot of hassle.
It’s a similar story with nowautoverkaufen.De. There is a good reason for this. First, the portal promises me 7,975 euros. Here, too, I have to drive to an industrial area on the outskirts of town for a vehicle assessment.
I’m greeted by a mechanic – but he’s wearing a blue overcoat with the unmistakable words "wirkaufendeinauto" ("we buy one car"). Am I in the right place? "Sure," he laughs, "that’s us." there is cooperation between the two companies. Whether I have already been to wirkaufendeinauto? "then we don’t need to do a new valuation," he decides. More than the 6 023 euro from wirkaufendeinauto it would certainly not be.
The car exchange carsale24 advertises: "we are different. Fast, safe and convenient."but a test shows that carsale24 has not reinvented the wheel. It also offers the cars in a kind of auction for dealers. If someone buys the car, he pays a commission to the internet portal. For me everything is free. I only have to sell if one of the bids reaches the amount that I previously entered as the asking price on the internet. Then he picks up the car and pays cash.
The bidding round lasts five days. Then the highest bid is 6 900 euro – the best so far, but clearly below my imagination. So carsale24 calls me: they will start renegotiations directly with dealers. How much I can go down in price. "what is your pain threshold?" i say 9 500 euros. "then further negotiations are of no use," explains the caller. She advises: "try a private sale."
Insurance companies are also getting into the used car trade. Abracar, an allianz subsidiary, has the car appraised and offers it on online platforms. The customer has no work with all this, but the service costs 4 percent of the selling price, at least 399 euro, if it comes to the sale. If not, everything is free.
I make an appointment. The appraiser comes to my house. He examines the car carefully, copies the papers, checks the service book, asks about previous owners, repairs and why I want to sell it. He documents every scratch, unerringly finds the single, tiny dent in the rear end. It all takes place on the side of the road, across the street from my apartment. Clearly there is no lift there. He can’t look at the car from below. In exchange, he checks the engine thoroughly and makes a test drive.
At the end I look at mobile.De and autoscout 24 professionally designed ads. And the note: "including expert opinion". That makes an impression. So buyers can be sure that the car is in tip-top condition. And the best: abracar sets the price at 10 100 euro.
Only: no buyer is biting. After a week abracar proposes 9 800 euro, later 9 600 euro. When no buyer is found after four weeks, I cancel the order. This is free of charge and very simple by e-mail.
huk-coburg also helps when selling a car. With huk-autowelt, the customer receives a non-binding online valuation, in my case 6,350 euros, after which he can have the car appraised at a branch, which makes him a purchase offer. However, there are only branches in dusseldorf, cologne, dortmund, troisdorf and essen.
I want to get rid of my car.De
One more try. At I want to become a car.De enter the vehicle details and upload photos. The portal offers the car to used car dealers. Everything is free for me, but also brings little: after a few days comes an offer of 3 127 euros. After a good two weeks, the highest bid is 4,550 euros. I cancel.
Finally, I drive to mercedes even. Take my car in payment? "no problem," says the salesman – "if you buy another car from us". He brushes aside my concern that my C-class might be heavily discounted because of the diesel crisis: "We don’t do that. We pay the fair market value."
Full of confidence I arrange an appointment for the vehicle evaluation. Days later the result: only 3,000 euros. Why so little? The seller supposedly does not know.
"probably technical defects," he mumbles taciturnly. Just wonder why abracar’s expert rated the car so much higher. That’s why I’m contacting about a dozen mercedes dealers. The range is 6,000 to 8,000 euros, but only with the proviso that the car must first be inspected closely. So in the end, the price could be lower.
Profit from the crisis?
So I should sell? Finally, the calculation could be as follows: if my diesel had brought an estimated 9,000 euros without the crisis, and I now sell it to the carsale24 dealer for 6,900 euros, that would be a loss of 2,100 euros. If, on the other hand, I buy a euro 6 car that is now available for only 16,000 euros instead of 20,000 euros because of the crisis, that would be an advantage of 4,000 euros. The bottom line is that the crisis would bring me 1,900 euros.
Panic sales cause excessive loss of value
But that’s just a if-if-maybe. I am slowly glad that all this is only a trial and that I do not have to sell at all. I’d rather follow the advice of ansgar klein, chairman of the federal association of independent car dealers: wait and see. "anyone who sells the diesel in a panic now will incur an excessive loss of value," he warns.
No driving bans for the time being
After all, it will be possible for euro 5 diesels up to 1. September 2019 there will probably be driving bans on individual stretches of road at most. it also makes sense to wait, because euro-5s can already be converted today to up to 70 percent lower nitrogen oxide emissions, as tests by the ADAC show. The car club has examined prototypes of various retrofit companies. Depending on the model, the costs could be between 1,500 and 3,000 euros, including installation.
No driving bans for euro 6s for the time being
ADAC: Don’t rush into selling your car
The ADAC also warns against a hasty sale. Technical director reinhard kolke explains: "it is still largely unclear when driving bans will come and who will be affected."bans could only apply for certain periods, there could be exceptions for residents, and diesel drivers far away from big cities would hardly be affected by the problem. For them, diesels are even a good idea, says ansgar klein: "If you live in the country, don’t have to worry about driving bans and don’t have a bad environmental conscience, you can negotiate great discounts now. diesels have never been as cheap as they are today."