Buying a used car: Identify blenders and defects from the advertisement

The most popular phrases in lazy used car listings

Is there a risk of damage to the booth?


“Has been signed off in the garage for x years.”

That sounds good at first: heirlooms, for example, are often carefully kept. But unlike a gold bar, it damages a car if it stands around for a long time. The tires wear out on one side, the chassis gives way, with petrol engines (due to the water content in the fuel) the engine can rust from the inside! Therefore: hands off!

How much is the engine already worn?


“Oil consumption is low for its age, only needs to be topped up from time to time.”

One liter per 1000 kilometers has long been the rule of thumb for acceptable oil consumption. Conversely, this means that one oil change interval (with a normal sized engine) may not be quite sufficient and must be topped up before the oil change. So if someone points out as a precaution that the car regularly needs a special ration, the engine must already be heavily worn out. Then you can save yourself the visit.

How conscientious was the previous owner?


“I can’t find the letter, but it’s available from the office.”

Honesty lasts the longest, think some salespeople and also know the solution to a problem straight away: Just get a replacement, dear customer! But anyone who deals with documents in this way – and that is exactly the vehicle registration document, also known as the registration certificate – may be doing completely different things. And anyway: Why does the provider not get the replacement letter for a fee of 41 euros (for example in Berlin) itself? If you are already displeasing with such things that are taken for granted, you better ignore them.

Can past life be examined?


“Mileage as read:”

Sometimes it’s only the details that make the difference between good and bad: In the best case scenario, the mileage of a vehicle can be read not only from the speedometer, but also from the documentation of a used vehicle: the mileage is always noted in workshop invoices and HU test reports. This is much more difficult and complex to forge than with the instrument itself! So when someone writes “(how) read”, he almost always means: “I have no idea whether the speedometer is original / works / I miscalculated.” And documentation is likely to be missing in most cases. And then you are welcome to ignore the car.

Is the car just neglected?


“I don’t find time to get the car ready for myself.”

We could cry with pity: Many old cars on the Internet are offered “with a heavy heart”, “unfortunately” or at least “because of circumstances”. Actually, the owner would never give up his darling, but there are just too many other great projects / women / holiday countries or the like. Of course, it is a pure euphemism for: “The maintenance backlog annoys me, I want to get rid of the cart if someone else should bother with the junk.” But of course not you.

Are you interested in long-distance trading?


“The car is still in …, shipping via a forwarding agency.”

That too is not uncommon: the used car is parked somewhere in Europe, sometimes in Greece or Spain, and is offered for sale here in Germany. Sometimes this is outright fraud (there is no such thing as a car), but sometimes it is just a somewhat creative form of long-distance trading. The provider then hopes that the vehicle is already so attractive that someone will buy it without looking. Often, relatively coveted classics are offered in this way by people who happened to come across them while on vacation and who want to get a good deal on the side. Let them try that – but not with you.

Are you buying a car or a tech puzzle?


“I also add shock absorbers, brake pads and two motors.”

They still exist, the good people: They don’t just sell a car, they also sell an entire warehouse of valuable accessories. And it shouldn’t cost 1 cent extra! The only thing missing in the bundle is the mechanic who assembles everything – and that would also be necessary, because mostly the spare parts are also essential for the cart to move in the end. And so the interesting costs remain open: wages! Blue-eyed buyers like to underestimate this item. Completing such a construction site usually costs several thousand euros. You can only save yourself that if you can do it yourself. Or not even buy.

Did the seller use the car all year round?


“Perfect winter car”

A statement like this also has a little secondary meaning: Anyone who advertises such a vehicle has probably already beaten it through snow and mud for several years. A car has to withstand that, that’s right – but if you have the choice between a well-preserved used car and one that has been heavily used, which one would you buy? Right; and so the “perfect winter car” may be a good buy, but not for you! Please look for a neat summer car, preferably a garage car with a checkbook maintenance – and it should be possible to prove that.

Are you being fooled into an X for a U?


“Good substance to restore”

Such phrases should be as alarmed as a homebuyer with the phrase “property with great potential”. Because indirectly, a statement like this means: “It could possibly turn out to be a beautiful car if a poor lunatic puts a lot of work and money into it.” That is – well, the truth sometimes hurts – actually the worst thing you can write. The only thing worse would be: “easy to dispose of”. “The term patina is also being misused,” says Carsten Bräuer from Dekra. Some of the vehicles advertised in this way are “not used, but used”. Even the phrase “needs some attention” often sounds more harmless than it actually is. You don’t want to turn around or restore, you want to get in and drive off. Therefore, sentences like these are an alarm signal and – hopefully – only lead to one reaction: click away.

Can you reliably estimate the repair costs?


“There is a crack / dent / rust spot – but it is easy to fix it.”

Anyone who writes something like this doesn’t really take deficiencies seriously. Or, even worse, he is deliberately playing down the problem to keep the seller safe. It can be assumed that the repair of the damage will cost 1000 euros or more. You could now try to negotiate the provider over the phone – but a seller who acts so cheekily is guaranteed to hide further weaknesses or damage. Watch out, trap! It is therefore not worth going to such craft stalls either.

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