Buying a Used Car in Spain
Buying a second-hand car can be a stressful endeavour. Many people believe that buying a used vehicle is tantamount to buying another person’s problems. However, purchasing a second-hand vehicle can be an economical way to maintain yourself in a trustworthy and even stylish vehicle.
Generally speaking, there are a number of good reasons to consider buying a used car in Spain. First of all, even though they cost more than those in many other parts of Europe, they also hold their value better. Secondly, for those of you who hail from cold, northern climes, Spanish cars also last longer since most of them never see the ice and snow of winter.
However, purchasing a second-hand vehicle in Spain can be a little complicated. For example, licensing a used vehicle can be a little overwhelming for a foreigner. Also, used vehicles in Spain can carry previous debt that will become the new owner’s responsibility, something that at the very least could be extremely inconvenient. Even so, if you decide to buy a vehicle privately, you can either trudge through the paperwork yourself or hire a gestoría, an agency that specialises in dealing with government bureaucracy. Many gestorías specialise in car purchases and are not expensive to use.
Still, it can be a good idea to purchase through a trustworthy car dealer that specialises in previously-owned vehicles and who can be trusted to do all the paperwork for you. Used car dealers were something of a rarity in Andalucia only ten years ago; however, now they have become almost as commonplace as trendy beach bars. There are many reasons for this. One is the massive rise in the foreign population, especially on the Costa del Sol from countries like Great Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands where used car dealers flourish. Secondly, the price of used cars in Spain is among the highest in the EU. Therefore, it can make lucrative business for an innovative entrepreneur to find vehicles in his homeland and have them transported here for re-sale. The profit for the dealer can be startling while the quality of the vehicle can be superb, making it a “win-win situation” for all involved.
Before you actually start talking to used car dealers, it might be smart do a little research on your own. For example, use the internet to narrow down the type of vehicle you want, according to style and budget. Both Spanish and foreign newspapers sold in Spain can also be a good source of information about price and brands. It is also a good idea to take a walk around car dealers during off hours. This will give you a chance to get an understanding where the Spanish market is in comparison to what you might be used to in your home country.
Used car dealers might all appear alike from the outside but how do you go about choosing for the one that is right for you? First of all, begin by asking around. Chances are that some of your friends or acquaintances have had to find a used vehicle some time in the past. Ask them where they went and if they were happy with both their purchase and their treatment. Few things can take the place of a positive word or two about a dealer from previous customers when looking for a vehicle.
Also, look for car dealers that have a good number of clean, well-maintained cars on their lot. If the dealer does not keep their vehicles clean and presentable while trying to sell them, a buyer should seriously wonder how much maintenance the cars they sell have had in general. The cars are not only their products; they are their advertising as well.
Once you feel comfortable enough with prices and the kind of vehicle you want to buy, now is the time to begin talking with people at dealers. It always helps if you go with a friend who knows cars. Usually, this is not hard to find one and hardly ever is it thought of as an imposition. Few things can be as fun as spending someone else’s money, especially on a car. Also, the negotiations usually go much better if you begin the hunt as part of a team and not as a lone wolf.
Once you see an interesting vehicle, examine it carefully, inside and out. Have a check-list with you of your “must-have” options. For example, does it have air-conditioning? In what state are the tyres? Does the engine look clean and well-maintained? Is there any sign of leaking oil? Does the car pull to one side? These questions and many more need to be considered so once again, it is intelligent to have a knowledgeable car person with you.
If your interest remains piqued, ask the salesperson for a test drive. Make sure you drive it under both city and highway conditions and keep the radio off so you listen to the sound of the engine. Stay alert for any little signs and don’t be afraid to test everything. For example, do the brakes work efficiently? Are all the controls in working condition or will you have to pay for costly repairs if, let’s say, the rear power window doesn’t operate?
When you have returned to the dealer and if your interest is still strong, begin the negotiations. One of the greatest differences between buying a used car privately and buying one from a dealer is the fact that dealers often offer some type of warranty on their cars and this can provide a great deal of piece of mind, especially when purchasing used. Negotiate the price including a warranty. Also remember to ask whether the vehicle price includes the 16% IVA tax. If you are buying the vehicle under a company or autónomo (self-employed) name, the IVA can be reclaimed, something that will make a big difference in the price. Be prepared to pack up and leave if the price still remains too high for what you’re buying. There are many other fish in the sea and it is you who has time on your side.
If the negotiations go well and it looks like the price is right, make the purchase contingent on an examination by a mechanic of your choice. Many a person has been saved future heartache with a used vehicle by paying an independent mechanic a nominal fee to inspect a possible vehicle before money changes hands. It is always money well spent.