I am in no way an expert on purchasing a car, so all I’m doing is giving you some tips on locating used cars that are for sale. First, if you require an automatic, your pickings will be much slimmer, and with larger cars, generally limited to the luxury models. This was my experience when we were looking for a station wagon. Most Germans drive cars with manual transmissions. It’s that whole Fahrvergnügen-joy of driving thing. I wasn’t able to learn to drive stick, but maybe you can, so try, then try another time just to be sure.
- Check your local newspaper’s website. There is generally a section called “Auto” or “Gebrauchtwagen” that is searchable. Here’s Mittelbayrisches Zeitung’s site as an example. Also try the second-hand paper for your area. You’ll find the biggest bargains in these, since most private sellers will only advertise here.
- Try one of the major Internet auto search engines: AutoScout24.de (Europe-wide) and Auto.de, Mobile.de, or Pkw.de (Germany-wide). There are a few private individuals selling their cars on these sites, but it’s mostly dealers.
- Check car manufacturer websites. They often list the used cars available at their dealerships. You’re looking for “Gebrauchtwagen” or “Gebrauchtwagenbörse.” Here’s Renault’s site as an example. You’ll want to search all the different car makers that are in your area, since these are cars that have been traded in and will be of all different makes, models, and years.
- Last, and possibly least, is to make the trek to all the dealerships in your area and check out what they have on their lots. They don’t always list everything on the websites, and sometimes you’ll luck out and find a car that was just brought in. Also, you can tell them your criteria and have them call you if something comes in that fits it. Make sure you check the opening hours of the dealerships. Many close at 6pm on weekdays and are only open in the mornings on Saturdays.
In the end, it’s a very time consuming process. CarMax type used car lots haven’t really caught on here, although I’ve heard rumor that there are a few popping up in the former East and in the very north. So if you live in those areas, you might want to check the Gelbe Seiten (German Yellow Pages) for Gebrauchtwagen in your area.
Anyone else have a tip I’ve missed?