Guide to buying a used car

With checklist to buy a used car as *.PDF to print

This web page had been linked from the online reference site Wikipedia, as a reference page!

    when buying a car with great caution buy a car what is the used car really worth check the used car using a checklist what should be paid attention to no car purchase is not worth it for many

Basic facts about buying a used car:

Buying a used car is always a certain risk. However, you can minimize this risk if you follow the tips below and print out the used car checklist and take it with you when you buy your car. Take your checklist and work through it point by point, this way nothing will be forgotten and it will also look very professional.

As a foreman in the car dealership, I did nothing but plow through a similar list during a check for the trade-in of a used car. If you want some security, buy your vehicle in a car dealership or a long-established used car dealer with its own workshop. There it gives then also a warranty and usually against surcharge an auxiliary warranty. When considering this warranty, make sure that it is not linked to expensive conditions. For example, regular inspections in a very specific workshop.

But pay attention also there that in the sales contract as a salesman is actually registered the dealer! Because people like to get around the warranty by having the retailer act only as an intermediary! Before you make a down payment, ask if anyone has a reservation of title on the vehicle and get it confirmed in writing. If the dealer happens to be broke when you are about to buy a car and you have already made payments, the dough is gone -if someone has a retention of title. The car will be taken away from you again, even if you have been driving it for a few weeks and paid for it!

Do not buy a used car without having done a test drive!
When contacting private sellers or dealers, immediately ask if the vehicle is still REGISTERED, or at least if red license plates are available for a test drive. If a test drive is not possible, rather do without the purchase!
A good help can also be the Dekra used car report. In this you can find the typical defects of used cars by manufacturer, type and mileage.

Important for your safety

If you have found a used car bargain from private from a newspaper, NEVER drive to the purchase with all the cash ALONE! Often already turned out the alleged “distress sale” against cash payment turn out to be a nasty scam. The prospective new proud Benz owner found himself tied to the radiator in an empty high-rise apartment and 15.000 euros poorer again -without Benz!

If you are alone, take only money for a small deposit, make a contract of sale and pay the balance when you pick up the vehicle. This is common and has no disadvantages for both sides.

Buying a car on the Internet:

More and more used cars are offered and bought on the Internet. With the increasing number, there are also more and more warnings about scams.
One scam is: an incredibly cheap offer of a used car, but unfortunately it is located in England and must be transferred. The seller asks you to transfer a few hundred euros for the transfer to Germany in advance. Sounds logical at first, but unfortunately the money is gone and the car of course does not come.

NEVER pay -for whatever and even if it seems so plausible- an amount of money in advance!

  • Never buy a car that you only know the picture of
  • Always take a close look at the vehicle and take a test drive
  • Ackernern you the used car checklist conscientiously through
  • Don’t pay until you really have the complete paperwork and the car
  • If you want to buy a used car at an auction, go there and inspect the vehicle before bidding.

Especially “sporadic Defects, i.e. defects that occur only temporarily, are to be complained about after a few weeks. Mostly very expensive things, -automatic transmission does not shift at times, engine has no idle at times due to a defective wiring harness, engine makes strange noises etc.. I do not believe in buying a used car over the internet because of o.g. Negativa and the usually large distance not much. But obviously thousands of used cars are successfully brokered this way.

The preliminary price determination for the used car: $$$

A good overview of the current prices for used cars and motorcycles can be obtained on the relevant sales portals on the net. Often, in addition to the vehicle type, the price, mileage and other parameters can be specified there and thus the search results can be filtered. For example, before buying a car, you can also narrow down the area search. This proves to be very practical, because hardly anyone wants to drive 800 km from Hamburg to Munich for an inspection and test drive.
Who looks for something special, should look also times in the German-speaking foreign countries.
Sometimes you can get a good bargain there too.

There is a quite simple, -but also regional circumstances taking into account- price determination for used vehicles. If you know which type of car you want and how much it should cost, just take your daily newspaper, -better still because of the larger selection and the usually lower prices-, your local classifieds newspaper and look for your desired vehicle with price.

Analogously, there are also regional classifieds markets on the Internet. The big advantage is, does not need to go far to inspect and test drive the vehicle.

Very soon you can easily make out price differences related to km performance, equipment or year of manufacture. Thus one determined fast the current value of the desired car and knows which one must pay with the dealer more. This is more effective and accurate than Schwackeliste or anything else.

To buy a used annual car or a new EU car with warranty

A yearly car is a used car, which is sold within the first 12 months of the first registration and therefore still has the original manufacturer warranty. Often these new vehicles are bought by factory employees at favorable conditions, and are then resold within 12 months.

Another possibility even a completely new vehicle to acquire favorably is an EU new car. A big advantage of this variant is that you can usually put together the equipment, the engine and manual or automatic transmission itself and really gets his desire new vehicle.

Vehicle check when buying a used car:

Here is a 40 point checklist for used cars as a PDF to print out.

I have never seen a car in my career that was older than 3 years and did not have a single – even if small – defect! So carry out the checklist conscientiously, -it is YOUR MONEY! Write down all found defects and calculate the repair costs!
This used car checklist you can download as a PDF -of course for free-, print it out and take it with you to the car purchase. So do not forget to check any points.
On the PDF list are some more points than here on the website, as well as fields for entering the vehicle data. According to experience one has after the 5. Vehicle inspection no longer the details, defects and equipment of the various vehicles in mind and can poorly compare.
Therefore print out the 4 page checklist several times and take it with you.

  1. Is the seller identical with the owner in the vehicle registration certificate (registration certificate part II)?? If not why? Is there a consent to the sale? (CAUTION!)
  2. Ask about accidents or previous damage (always ask for written confirmation)
  3. Check year of manufacture, mileage u. technical data correspond with the offer?
  4. Is the chassis number in the registration certificate on the type plate u. Body identical?
  5. Is optional equipment, (wide tires, spoiler, sports steering wheel, etc.).) registered, resp. are ABE’s available?
  6. Are the entries in the service book u. Invoices KM-readings plausible? Get HU/AU reports u. Give invoices (service booklets can be bought easily)

On the car

  1. Check body for damage, rust u. Check paint damage
  2. Check paint carefully, -has something been repainted? (Recognizable by orange peel, dust inclusions badly taped off u. some overpainted parts)
  3. Check doors, hoods for proper fit (all clearances must be straight -not V-shaped)
  4. Windows for stone chips u. Scratches check (can be very expensive)
  5. Tires u. Rims on wear u. Check damages (worn on one side? vehicle. Must be measured! dents in rims?)
  6. Check the age of the tires by the 4-digit DOT number (year of manufacture: 1).u.2. digit = calendar week, 2.u.3. = year z.B. DOT 4706 = year of manufacture 47.week in 2006)
  7. Check headlights, taillight lenses for damage (check headlight leveling -height adjustment-, Expensive!)

On vehicle under hood

  1. engine, transmission for leaks -oil, u. Check water (especially if it looks like it’s leaking, why would anyone do an engine wash when everything is tight)?)
  2. Oil dipstick pull, is instead of oil a brown emulsion on the rod? An emulsion is brown slime = water in the oil ev. Cylinder head gasket defective, or cylinder head cracked. Very expensive, -fingers away! See picture on the right.
  3. brake fluid- u. Check coolant level (too low indicates brake pad wear resp. check for leaks)
  4. Open expansion tank for coolant, are there oil eyes swimming on the coolant? -see point 15
  5. Change intervals for timing belt observed? (sticker in engine compartment or invoice, ev. very expensive)
  6. Check vehicle for water ingress. -Water traces in the sky, under the floor mats, spare wheel well
  7. Check function of electrical system. -heater fan all stages, rear wiper u. front, lighting, dashboard lighting etc.
  8. Check optional accessories. -electrical. Window lifters, sunroof, outside mirrors, seat adjustment, air conditioning etc.
  9. Check radio, navigation system. -Radio passport available? Navi software older than 3 years? Almost unusable!
  10. Can the mileage lt. Tachometer correct? (at 30.000Km the seats or pedal rubbers can not be worn out yet)

test drive

  1. Do not buy a car without making a test drive! (If the car is not registered, get red numbers).)
  2. Drive near top speed. Check engine performance, gauges of all instruments
  3. pay attention to unusual noises (wheel bearings, gearbox etc.).)
  4. Does the steering wheel wobble when driving? (tires must be balanced or are defective)
  5. Brake hard. Does the steering wheel wobble now? (brake discs and/or brake drums have a blow)
  6. If the vehicle pulls. when braking to the left/right? (Brake system not in order)
  7. Pull handbrake carefully while driving (listen for vibration, noise)
  8. Does the vehicle run. When steering wheel is released to one side (axle geometry must be measured, or tires not i.O., or brake is tight)
  9. Complete load changes, d.H. suddenly accelerate and then get off the pedal (clacking noises can be heard? Indicates engine, transmission suspension, or something worn out on the drivetrain)
  10. check clutch. -do all gears go in without noise?
  11. Test clutch: apply handbrake firmly, accelerate a little, then engage 4 gear u. Let the clutch come the engine must go out
  12. Check automatic transmission. -it shifts smoothly? Kick down test. -Give full throttle, the transmission shifts down a gear? *not for continuously variable automatic transmission*

Here the 40 points checklist used car purchase as a PDF to print out.

The price negotiation when buying a used car

NEVER pay the requested purchase price! With the found defects, you have an excellent argumentation to push the purchase price! Calculate the written defects and deduct the sum from the estimated purchase price. Do not calculate too tightly, if in doubt, always count on the most expensive! Don’t forget to factor in mileage and number of previous owners. At ev. Haggling and negotiating is then everyone again all alone!

The purchase contract

Leasing contracts

The car insurances

No consumer magazine without the report that again a faithful premium-paying policyholder is to be defrauded of his due benefits. The palaces come from somewhere and have to be financed! Compare prices before signing a contract! Fax or write an email requesting a quote. It is important for the preparation of the offer, that you send a copy of the car license and specify the desired type of insurance. If you do not want to change your previous more expensive insurance, present the cheaper offer of the competition to the agent. It will go down with the price! Do not get involved in the drivel with the various services, what counts is: The insurance services YOU want! And DIE offers just another cheaper.

There is a distinction between when it comes to car insurance:

The liability insurance:
It covers the damage caused to others with the vehicle. The only compulsory insurance that every car in traffic must have!
Comprehensive insurance:
This covers the damage to your own vehicle in the event of an accidental damage. As a rule, a deductible must then be paid. Useful for newer vehicles.
Partial cover insurance:
It covers burglary damage, glass breakage damage, fire damage and theft on your own vehicle. With or without deductible. The passenger accident insurance:
One of the completely pointless insurance policies that like to be talked up in order to finance the palaces of the insurance companies. The passengers in your car are in case of damage, already insured with the liability insurance.

Online insurance comparisons are practical – but be careful

Just use the insurance comparisons online, it’s convenient and works well. But beware: only reputable providers (usually consumer protection sites, or major newspapers) have a list, with the insurance companies to be compared with each other visible! Basically it must be clear: – HOW MANY insurances are compared with each other – WHICH insurances are compared with each other. Without these two data insurance comparisons are absolutely worthless.

By the way, this does not only apply to car liability insurances but to all insurances! It is compared otherwise between meager 3 insurances, with which the operator receives the most commission with a conclusion, -but you with security not the most favorable insurance which there is for you!

Insurance comparison tips
Insurance companies are not social institutions that like to help people in need. Insurances are hard-headed economic enterprises with the goal: Profit maximization!
Every claim settlement is a profit reduction. So insurance companies are naturally anxious to keep the justified claims in case of damage as low as possible. Especially an insurance company from Coburg is known in the automotive industry to constantly reduce invoices for partial coverage damage, or in the case of accident damage, not to recognize expert opinions from independent experts.

Only when a claim occurs, it turns out whether the insurance unbureaucratic and quickly settles the damage, or countless letters are necessary to get the damage fully replaced, -if at all.

Therefore, inform yourself not only in online insurance comparisons or reputable major service providers (consumer centers or Stiftung Warentest) about the respective insurer, but also go looking for the opinion of others in the relevant product review and test portals on the Internet. Here, consumers can read valuable testimonials from consumers to help them choose the right car insurance policy.

Tips and advice on buying a camper and caravan

As far as the inspection of the technology and the condition of a camper or caravan is concerned, the same inspection points apply as explained above. In particular it is to be considered here absolutely that the camper possesses a green environmental badge. The retrofitting of a particle filter is usually very expensive or often not possible at all.

water causes the most damage!
Check all gaskets and function of windows, hatches and doors. Often the -due to strong sunlight- are brittle and cracked. Are inside water run traces to recognize? Also check the roof angles and corners carefully for damage. Any small external damage may have caused water ingress.

Water ingress is the biggest GAU in a motorhome resp. Caravan!
Often there is hardly anything to see inside, but behind the panels everything is moldy. Therefore absolutely on musty rotten smell pay attention! Open all lockers and inspect for water stains, discoloration and the smell. Do not forget the storage compartments. In case of doubt it makes sense to remove an interior paneling. Water damage can be incredibly expensive! If the salesman has nothing to hide, he has surely also no problem with it, if times a fairing is dismantled. Most caravan, motor home workshops employ a carpenter, -not without reason.

Test gas equipment
Is there a valid gas test certificate for refrigerator, stove or heater? All devices necessarily on function examine.

The valuation of a caravan or camper
This goes -as so often- best on the Internet. Here there are a lot of sales portals and some have specialized in the offers of caravans and motor homes. Many caravans, motorhomes change their owners in Germany. Germany is the largest market for caravans and motor homes and it continues to grow. In the sales portals you can easily find out the average value of the different manufacturers and years of construction. So you can distinguish an overpriced offer and a cheap one.
Tip! In this caravan, motorhome prices are most favorable in the fall or. Winter!

Still questions to these topics? Ask your questions in our car forum.

Most pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Used cars like sand at the sea

used car purchase

A broken coil spring often makes on uneven ground

Broken coil spring

Easy to see and also to hear if the brake pads are already on iron

Brake blocks on iron, brake disc defective

The brake disc from behind.
Look for thick rust edges and grooves

Brake disc rust edge, scoring

Defective axle boot the grease leaks out.
A short Bick under the car reveals it, often are also grease splashes on the fender to see

Defective axle boot

Worn brake pads

Worn brake pads

Brake pads compared old and new
The lining thickness of the brake pads
can often be caused by
of a lamp to be controlled

Brake pads in comparison

Defective pre-silencer
easy to recognize by the soot at the leakage

Defective pre-silencer

Cracked porous

cracked porous brake hose

If such rust is already to be seen as here at a wishbone, is with security the bearing

Rust comes out of the bearing

If an emulsion is to be seen at the oil dipstick and under the oil filler cap, an expensive engine damage lies

Head gasket or cylinder head defective

Checklist car purchase
Checklist car purchase page 1

Used car checklist page 1

Checklist car purchase page 2

Used car checklist page 2

Checklist car purchase page 3

Used car checklist page 3

From the airstream oily underbody and exhaust, by an oil leakage of the engine

Oiled underbody

Timing belt with water pump
Change interval kept?

Timing belt

White highlighted DOT no.
Here: 29. week 2001


Tires worn down to the fabric


Completely worn clutch,
even the lining has
solved. A clutch so defective
falls during the test drive


Handbrake cable in dissolution -split

splintered brake cable in the guide

A luminous control horn light
can become very expensive

Engine control light

From the outside hardly something was to be seen.
Inside the floor is dented.
Also pay attention to small damages!

Mercedes floor

Eyes on when buying a caravan ;-)


There is much to consider when buying a motorhome


MKL lights! Misfiring cylinder
2 found! Error code P0302

Zuendaussetzer 2nd cylinder found
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