Never sign the sales agreement until you are absolutely sure you want to buy the car. Once signed, a deal is binding and cannot be cancelled without at least some expense.
Always conclude an agreement in writing
Draw up or require a clear sales agreement in writing. If the agreement is in a language that is foreign to you, ensure that you understand its content before you sign. Never sign an agreement whose terms and conditions you are unsure of.
Make sure that the agreement specifies at least the following:
- names and contact information of the parties
- the product or service being sold
- the price
- terms of payment
- time of delivery
- any additional accessories
- odometer reading
- year when the car was taken into use
If the vendor says that the car has never been damaged in a crash, this should be recorded in the sales agreement. Any other items mentioned by the vendor that are significant to the transaction should also be recorded in the agreement.
Agreement templates are easy to find:
- The German Automobile Club, ADAC, has specimen agreements available.
- The Swedish Consumer Agency and the Motorbranschens Riksförbund both have specimen terms and conditions available; any transaction should comply with these terms and conditions, at a minimum.
Be careful of these items in an agreement
If you are a private individual buying a car from an enterprise, make sure that:
- the sales agreement is not based on a template for an agreement between two private individuals or two business undertakings
- the vendor entered in the sales agreement is not a private individual
- no title indicating that you are an entrepreneur is added to your name
In Germany, a dishonest vendor may attempt to avoid his statutory liability for defects by entering:
- a term referring to a self-employed person or entrepreneur in front of the buyer’s name; such terms include Autohändler (car dealer) and Firma,
- the term Händlergeschäft anywhere in the agreement
Other items to be careful of
When buying from a German vendor, be alert if the agreement contains any of the following terms:
- zum Ausschlachten
- ohne Garantie
- im Kundenauftrag
The terms Bastlerfahrzeug, Schrottwagen and zum Ausschlachten generally mean that the car is scrap and suitable only as a source of spare parts. This may be an attempt on the vendor’s part to avoid liability for defects. Ohne Garantie (without guarantee) is what it says: the vendor is providing no guarantee, i.e. assumes no liability for defects. However, German consumer protection legislation is compelling, and statutory liability for defects cannot be legally limited by provisions in a private-law agreement. Im Kundenauftrag indicates that a dealer is selling the car on behalf of someone else. The risk here is that the vendor is a private individual and thus does not have liability for defects under consumer protection legislation; the dealer is only responsible for his own operations, not the car.
Sign a written agreement with the broker too
If you commission a broker to find a car for you, sign a written agreement with the broker too. The agreement should specify:
- the exact details of the commission
- the terms and conditions applied
- the specifications that the car to be found must fulfil