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Second hand cars

How to seek for information?

Find good advise in a study by the  European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) that gives you a step-by-step introduction to cross-border car purchase within the EU. From choosing a trustworthy seller to registering the car in your home country – all information at one look is provided in the country specific factsheets.

Each car sale requires a sales contract. To avoid problems, your sales contract must at least include the following items:

  • description of the purchased vehicle
  • details of buyer and seller
  • price paid or to be paid
  • VAT payment, if any
  • overview of the documents provided

If the car you intend to buy has already been registered, you should ask the seller for the certificate of registration (also called pink card). This document is essential!

The German certificate of registration consists of two separate parts: the Fahrzeugbrief and the Fahrzeugschein. Together they constitute the so-called grey card. The seller must provide you with both documents.

The Dutch certificate of registration consists of three parts as well as a chipcard. The seller must provide you with all these documents with them purchase.

European Certificate of Conformity

The European Certificate of Conformity confirms that a vehicle complies with the European technical requirements.

Nowadays, this European Certificate of Conformity is no longer mandatory. In 2012, the European Court of Justice sentenced Belgium for implementing this measure. However, we strongly recommend asking for one from the seller. It will allow you to start using your car more quickly.

However, if you do not have a European Certificate of Conformity, or if your European Certificate of Conformity is illegible or incomplete, the Department for the Registration of Vehicles (DIV) must request the required technical details from the competent authority in the country where you bought the car. This application procedure may drag on for three months – depending on the time the foreign agency needs to process your request.

Guarantee and warranty on your car

If you bought your vehicle from a professional dealer and you discover a defect or technical problem, there are several types of guarantees and warranties for your car:

  • two-year legal guarantee from the dealer
  • a manufacturer’s warranty
  • extra purchased extended warranty

2-year legal guarantee

You are entitled to a two year legal guarantee on your car. This only applies if you buy your car as a private individual from a professional car dealer.

If the vehicle is second-hand, in some member states the dealer may limit the period to one year.

Under this legal guarantee the seller is obliged to resolve any problems on your car during the guarantee period, within a reasonable term and free of charge. This will generally involve a repair.

How to submit a complaint?

Should the car seller refuse to settle your complaint or you do not agree with the suggested solution, and find that the trader has violated your rights, it’s worth contacting the European Consumer Centre in hor home country.