Buying a used car

You should be extra cautious when buying a used car as to avoid buying a pig in a poke. 

  • Find background information on the seller. Check the business register, to see whether the car is being sold by a private or legal person. It is cheaper to buy from a private person, but disputes between private persons are only solved in court. You can get information about companies on the credit information homepage, as well as the business register. In the case of a private person seller, you can find information online in general and on social networking sites, but also on the credit information site. 
  • Check the history of the car. If you are buying the car from Estonia check for possible car accidents on the homepage of the Estonian Traffic Insurance Fund. Check the car’s data on the basis of the vehicle identification number (VIN-code) at a dealership of the respective car brand. Browse the web portals of large car markets and compare the cars that are on offer in Estonia to similar ones in the European Union. Avoid the so-called special offers that are made at the sales site.
  • Make sure that the technical condition of the car is in order. Arrange for a lengthy test drive. The simplest way check to that the car is in good working order is to take it to the nearest dealership of said car brand. When inspecting the car, pay attention to its general condition, documents and potential failures. Pay close attention to the vehicle’s degree of wear, condition of measuring instruments and other devices. You should receive all the information on the car’s technical condition in written form.
  • Hidden failures are the most dangerous. In order to detect these, the edges of seals should be checked for sign of having been painted over; a thick coating of fillers is apparent from cracks in plastic details. It is also worth checking that the spaces between doors and other body parts are even. A dashboard that has been covered with leather is often a sign of attempts to eliminate the consequences of a serious car accident.
  • Do not trust the car’s service book blindly, for it may have been forged. Various invoices for service, replaced spare parts and repair works should prove the car’s mileage. 
  • Always sign a written purchase and sale contract that includes information about the seller, price, vehicle, accessories, condition and mileage. The contract should also include everything you have agreed upon with the seller.
  • If possible, pay for the purchase with a bank transfer, so that there would be a trace of the transaction, which makes potential disputes much easier to solve. Pay attention to who receives the money – are the person in the contract and the seller the same person. The seller is obliged to give you a document that proves you have paid for the purchase of the vehicle.

You can find more thorough information on buying a used car in the guidelines that were compiled by the Public Road Administration, Consumer Protection Board and the Tax and Customs Board.