Common problems and scams in car sales

When you buy a car abroad, you may encounter the following misleading terms or attempts to scam you.

If you are buying a car as a private person from a company, make sure that:

  • a contract model used between two private individuals or two traders is not selected for the contract of sale
  • the vendor entered in the contract of sale is not a private person
  • an expression referring to a trader is not added before your name.

In Germany, a dishonest vendor may try to avoid their statutory liability for defects by adding

  • an expression referring to a trader in front of the buyer’s name. These expressions include Autohändler (car dealer) and Firma.
  • the word Händlergeschäft in the contract.

You should watch out if a German vendor’s contract of sale contains one of the following terms:

  • Bastlerfahrzeug
  • Schrottwagen
  • zum Ausschlachten
  • ohne Garantie
  • im Kundenauftrag

The expressions Bastlerfahrzeug, Schrottwagen and zum Ausschlachten usually mean that the car is mainly suitable for spare parts. Vendors may use these expressions to try and avoid their liability for defects. Ohne Garantie means that the vendor is attempting to free themselves from liability for defects. The consumer protection legislation is also mandatory in Germany, and the statutory liability for defects cannot be effectively limited under contract terms. Im Kundenauftrag, on the other hand, means that the car dealership is selling the car on behalf of someone else. The risk here is that the vendor is a private person who is not liable under consumer protection provisions, and the broker is only responsible for their own activities.