German wheels? yes please!

After years of complaining about stinky, packed trains, rental car prices & having taxi companies rob us blind we finally decided it was time to invest in a car of our own…a frustrating adventure that finally ended with the purchase of this bit of fabulicious family functionality:

Here’s the least painless way to get your own…

Our search initially began with, what else? ebay kleinanzeigen but after finding nothing that took our fancy moved over to auto.de, then onto autoscout24 until we finally hit pay dirt with mobile.de. *all sites except ebay allow you to search in English however most sellers input vehicle details & communicate in German therefore if you do not speak a passable level of German I strongly recommend searching for & viewing vehicles with someone who does, you are in Germany after all.

Once you’ve found a few cars you like the look of, contact the sellers & set up a test drive. Remember that a picture may be worth a thousand words but used car salesmen are the same everywhere…we saw so many fantastic photos only to have grim reality smack us between the eyes when we saw the cars in person…seriously…a professional car lot advertised a vehicle in “Top condition” that turned out to have wet, mold infested seats!

Whether you’re buying a car from a dealer or privately if you’re not a mechanic yourself take the time to find one in the area where you’ll be viewing the vehicle. Most garages offer used auto inspections priced from €35 – when you find a car you are seriously interested in purchasing pop over to a mechanic during the test drive & get the low-down on any repairs that may be needed. *in Germany test-drives are taken without the seller – you simply leave them your id & promise to have the car back in 30 – 60 minutes, more than enough time for an inspection!

Other than obvious safety issue it’s extremely important to have the car professionally checked as German cars require TÜV – the fantastic governmental inspection that all vehicles must have every 2 years. Sounds easy right? The car runs wonderfully…so what if it’s a bit old, has some rust in the wheel wells & a small crack in the windshield…nope! In Germany you can be ancient, on double crutches, drive into a giant hole in the middle of a construction site and still keep your license but a little wheel well rust means a failed TÜV inspection…go figure! The solution: buy a used car privately that has recently passed the inspection – you’ll then have a repair-free 2 years – or – buy from a dealer as by law they must give a minimum 1 year road-worthiness guarantee on all used cars regardless of age or price (which is why many will only sell cheap used cars for export…no guarantee if it’s not in Germany)

As we bought our car privately (with new TÜV, hooray!) I can’t comment on the process of purchasing from a dealer but after seeing loads of lemons here’s how we finally got our wheels:

– found a car we liked the look, description (with TÜV!) & price of on mobile.de

– contacted the seller, set up a time & test-drove the car to a local mechanic who thoroughly inspected it & gave us a list of the minor repairs to be done

– returned to the seller & thanks to the repair list haggled the price down

– filled out the contract, got a copy for ourselves & paid cash for the car

– drove home in our new wheels!

You must insure & register the car in your name within 1 week of purchase at the Kraftfahrzeug-Zulassungsbehörde. Here you will also get your plates & find out exactly how much yearly auto tax you’ll pay. To register your car you need: your current passport or identity card, residency permit, proof of insurance – find the best deals & price comparisons here, the vehicle’s original registration documents & the sales contract.

That’s it! Enjoy your new wheels!

click here to check out all of my Life in Germany adventures:

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