who would like to buy a car from private, can save a lot of money compared to comparable dealer offers. However, buying privately also involves more risks than buying from a reputable dealer. In this guide, you will learn how to find the best offers, what to consider during an inspection and test drive, and how to avoid legal disadvantages.
Briefly: this article highlights all the aspects you should consider when buying a car privately.
bonus: for a quick overview, the most important information is listed in our>>checklist for buying a car privately. You can also print these out and take them with you to the vehicle inspection.
The four phases of buying a used car from a private buyer
The private car purchase process consists of several steps, which can be outlined as follows:
- Phase 1: preparation (define requirements, research, price comparisons etc.).)
- Phase 2: inspection and test drive
- Phase 3: conclusion of the purchase contract, payment, handover
- Phase 4: registration, insurance, possible repairs, costs, etc
In each phase there are certain points to consider, which we explain to you in detail below.
1. Preparation: define requirements
at the beginning are your requirements and ideas for buying a car. If you have decided to buy a car from a private buyer, you will of course have to find suitable offers first. In order for you to be able to search specifically, you should know your define your requirements in advance.
Ask yourself the following questions in particular:
- Which vehicle size would you like to have (z. B. small car, station wagon, van)?
- What can the car maximum cost?
- Which age and which mileage are acceptable for you?
- Which drive should it be: gasoline, diesel, e-car or hybrid?
Except for special cases, you should look for used cars that are maximum ten years old and less than 150.000 kilometers mileage covered. As for the costs concerns, you should not only purchase, but also the future fixed costs consider. This includes in particular vehicle insurance, vehicle tax, maintenance, repairs and operating costs (pay attention to consumption).
Especially in times of imminent diesel driving bans in german inner cities, you should also consider the drive type pay attention. It may well be that even with a relatively young diesel you will soon no longer be allowed to drive in certain areas. The "conventional" alternative to this is gasoline-powered vehicles.
Sometimes you can find the first electric and hybrid vehicles on the used car market. Here you should consider the decisive weak point of e-cars know: the battery. the performance of electricity storage systems is decreasing from year to year. This "decay" is particularly rapid after about eight years of use. If the battery is then completely defective, this effectively means a total economic loss for e-cars. This is also the reason why batteries often in the rental model are offered. To what extent this is possible in the case of private purchase, you must clarify in each individual case.
How to do your research correctly
Once you have determined your basic conditions, the search for a cheap used car can begin. There are several ways to do this. A very convenient way to find out is to use the relevant car platforms on the internet. They allow you to enter your previously defined requirements and also offer the possibility of filtering out private offers in a targeted manner. In this way you can narrow down the large selection very well.
Please note: Not every supposedly private ad actually comes from a private person. If the person you are talking to asks you which car you are interested in, for example, you are probably dealing with a dealer. Red license plates on photos are also an indication of a dealer. You should also be alert to unusually low-priced offers. Here could be a bait and switch offer or a scam behind it.
In addition to internet portals, you can also find interesting offers in newspaper ads or private classified ads (online and offline). The disadvantage here is, however, that usually only a few details and photos are available.
Which descriptions in advertisements should be considered positive??
- vehicle is "checkbook maintained" (all service intervals have been kept)
- Vehicle is accident-free (or damage is explicitly mentioned)
- The number of previous owners is as low as possible (optimal: 1). hand)
- detailed photos of the condition are available (also of possible damages)
- The vehicle has low mileage in relation to its age
Finally, it is important to find out whether the price offered is reasonable. On the one hand, you can compare similar offers, or you can determine the value of a used car free of charge using DAT’s online offer.
Tip: in the summer months june to august you can often buy used cars especially cheap. This is due to the low demand that prevails during the vacation season. After the summer vacations, prices start to rise again. Used cars are most expensive in october, because many drivers want to buy a winter vehicle in the fall.
2. Buying a car privately: inspection and test drive essential
If you have found a suitable vehicle? The provider also appears reputable? In any case, you should make an appointment to inspect the vehicle.
Select a time for this, at which daylight prevail. In the best case, the inspection also takes place at the residential address of the seller instead of. So you can find out immediately whether the owner appears under his real identity. Also take the information from the advertisement with you so that you can compare it with the vehicle on the spot. It is also advisable to to be accompanied by a competent person to leave.
To more security ask the seller for what reason he is selling the vehicle, what defects he is aware of and whether there is any accident damage. In addition, find out whether any technical modifications have been made or parts replaced. Let us show you the service booklet and the inspection report of the last general inspection. In the case of technical modifications, a general operating permit (ABE) or a certificate of conformity must also be obtained. Have a TuV certificate. Significant repairs should also be verifiable on the basis of workshop invoices. The registration certificate part 2 provides information about the number of previous owners.
vehicle inspection: these are the points you should check
After a short conversation and the inspection of important documents, the seller should give you the opportunity to look at the vehicle in peace and quiet. Do not be dazzled by a vehicle that is obviously well maintained and polished to a high shine. Thanks to professional reconditioning, this condition can be achieved very inexpensively and often conceals defects.
Inspect the vehicle first from the outside. Pay attention to rust, paint damage, dents and scratches on the bodywork. The glass surfaces should be as free of stone chips as possible. Also take a look at the brake pads and the brake discs. Rust film is not a problem, but the discs must not have any grooves for example.
Look at the car from below if liquids or oil are leaking? Is the exhaust rusted or does it have holes?? In addition, open the engine hood for a short visual inspection. Again, look for rust and leaking fluids and check the levels of coolant, brake fluid and oil. In addition, the timing belt should not be brittle or cracked. Check all doors and the trunk lid as well as the complete lighting system for proper function.
Lastly interior. If you notice a musty smell, this indicates dampness. Take a close look at the upholstery and footwells. Then the electronics should be activated and tested (ventilation, radio, windshield wipers, sunroof, window lifters, etc.).). Also, make sure the gauges are intact and legible.
Car purchase from private only with test drive
Do not buy a car privately without a test drive! You must always follow this rule of thumb. Any reputable seller should allow you to inspect the car test for a sufficiently long time. One lap around the block is not enough to identify possible defects. This requires a longer journey, which also includes country roads and the freeway.
Don’t forget: the vehicle must have valid license plates (be registered), have MOT and be insured.
As far as car insurance is concerned, you should settle the following points in writing before the test drive:
- Who pays the deductible in the event of damage??
- How to proceed in the event of a downgrade in the no-claims class?
- How to proceed in case of fines?
Be sure to carry out a cold start through and observe if the car starts without problems. While driving, pay attention to the following factors:
Function of the gearshift
gears should be easy to engage (also when skipping gears)
Function of the clutch
Pull handbrake, clutch in 2. If the engine continues to run, a new clutch will soon be necessary
Check the track
On a straight road (with as little traffic as possible) let go of the steering wheel; the car must go straight ahead, otherwise the lane is misaligned (possibly even due to accident damage)
function of brakes
Test on a dry, straight road; vehicle should not pull to the left or right; also perform full braking on a flat dirt road at 30 km/h (ABS test)
Drive at low speed
Check for humming or rattling
Function of the cooling system
High revs on the highway for a long time; coolant temperature must not rise into the red range
Function of the steering gear
Drive tight curves at the steering stop; no cracking or grinding noises should be audible
Test if the vehicle fits in your (low) garage
After the end of the test drive
Take another look in the engine compartment, there should be no liquid leaks
It is best to leave all abnormalities during the test drive note by a second person. Discuss the defects with the seller and try to obtain clarification. A serious seller should always be interested in stating all defects known to him/her. Do not make a hasty decision, but evaluate the results in your own time. Ask for one day to think about it. If you are put under pressure, you should refrain from making the offer.
When is a check by an independent body advisable??
If you are unsure about the quality of the used car, it is advisable to have it checked by a neutral party. this includes TuV, dekra, ADAC, vehicle experts and (independent) garages. The prices for a professional appraisal are in the range of 60 to approx. 150 euro.
What sounds like a lot of money at first, can be worth it. On the one hand, you can be sure that you are not overlooking any serious defects or accident damage; on the other hand, small defects such as dents are often discovered, which can give you negotiating leeway of several hundred euros.
3. Contract of sale, payment and delivery of the vehicle
Never buy a used car without signing a sales contract. A contract protects you from legal disadvantages and also proves that the vehicle has changed its owner legitimately.
If you have the check the purchase contract, make sure that the following components are included:
- complete information about seller and buyer (incl. No. The identity card)
- Exact details of the vehicle (incl. Mileage, chassis number)
- Agreed purchase price
- List all known accidental damage and damage to the vehicle
- Confirmation that the vehicle is the property of the seller
- If applicable. Accessories sold with the car
- Modalities for re-registration (if the vehicle is not deregistered)
- Hand over documents and items with confirmation of receipt
- Confirmation of payment
- Defect handling (usually: "sold as is", exclusion of liability for defects)
- Other verbal agreements
- Place, date and signature of the parties
You should not pay in advance, as this procedure involves high risks. When buying a car from a private buyer cash payment usual, where some sellers like to deposit the money directly into their bank account to exclude counterfeit money. You should also give the seller this opportunity. in return for the payment you will receive the following items and documents:
- The vehicle itself
- Accessories sold with the car
- All vehicle keys
- Registration certificate part I and II
- vehicle manual
- maintenance booklet
- COC papers
- If applicable. Abes or certificates for attachments or technical modifications
4. After the purchase of the car: registration, insurance, etc.
After buying a used car you can do not drive directly from the yard, unless the car is still registered to the previous owner. In this case, your first trip should be to the vehicle registration office to re-register the vehicle in your name. for this you need the complete documents (see previous section) and also a confirmation of your car insurance (evb-number).
If you have taken over the vehicle in deregistered condition, do not move the vehicle until you have fitted your new registration plates. If necessary, you should also visit a workshop to have any necessary repairs made. Otherwise applies: get used to the new car in peace and quiet. Do not drive directly at high speeds or long distances if you are not yet familiar with the handling of the vehicle.
Finally: legal aspects of buying a used car privately
You can buy a used car privately at a reasonable price, but you must be aware that there are certain legal disadvantages. Unlike commercial dealers, private sellers are allowed to contractually exclude liability for material defects. The legal liability for material defects states that a dealer is liable for all defects that the vehicle already had at the time of purchase for up to one year after the date of purchase.
A private seller will usually clause "exclusion of liability for material defects" include in the contract, whereby he can no longer be held liable for defects. This is legal and also understandable. For all other things, which the seller guarantees in the contract, he must also be liable. This applies, for example, to the stated mileage.
It is also common to wording "purchased as seen" or "purchased as inspected". This is, contrary to what one might expect, rather disadvantageous for the seller. If this passage is part of the contract, liability is only excluded for such defects that were recognizable to the buyer as a layman. The seller must be liable for everything else – even if he was not even aware of the defect himself.
Regardless of the purchase contract, the seller may never conceal serious defects and accidental damage if they are known to him. anything else is legally considered fraud. Apart from that buyer always has the right to withdraw from the purchase contract in case of serious defects.
Caution: some dealers deliberately act as private sellers in order to exclude liability for material defects or to avoid taxes.
This is a punishable offence and will result in civil consequences. However, the buyer himself does not have to fear any penalty, unless he knew about the fraud.