Make a good deal
General terms and conditions for reading this section
For a good car selling or buying, it is advisable to carefully examine the vehicle and collect enough informations in order for the deal to be fair for the seller as well as for the purchaser.
For a second-hand car, the following points should be checked first:
availability of a recent administrative certificate (stating whether there are any loans on the vehicle and unpaid traffic offence fines).
number of previous owners and where was the car parked at night (garage, on the street, etc).
actual or non-certified mileage (possibly with a certificate).
recent maintenance service at a manufacturer's accredited dealership.
fully cleaned vehicle (bodywork, rims, windows, inside, dashboard and trunk).
availability of the car's service records and maintenance log, its driver's handbook and its spare ignition key.
terms and conditions of any manufacturer's warranty or any other type of warranty.
list of any modifications, services and repairs (engine, suspension and bodywork) with invoices as supporting evidence.
the VIN number on the car's title must match the number on the car's chassis.
expert appraisal for expensive or classic vehicles.
market value (e.g. La Centrale) of the vehicle taking into consideration its date of first registration, its mileage and its maintenance.
appraisal of this vehicle's fair price (assess its value against similar cars advertised on websites).
car's ownership transfer certificate to be filled by the seller (to be signed by both parties) indicating the date and time of the title transfer.
Carefully read the inspection report
Set up exclusively for vehicles over four years old, this report will be at most six months old. Any defects not requiring a follow-up inspection will have to be accounted for with detailed explanations.
Make a thorough test drive of the vehicle
This vital test must last at least 20 minutes. Check that the vehicle does not overheat (in traffic jams) and does not make any strange noises. Blue colored exhaust fumes are a sign of abnormal oil consumption, white colored fumes reveal abnormal water consumption and black colored fumes are a sign of excessive fuel consumption. Check out if the cam belt needs to be changed in order to avoid any risk of engine damage. You can ask for a compression test to be carried out on each of the engine's cylinders with the results being attached to the inspection form of the vehicle being bought and sold. You should also have all the water, oil, engine coolant and air conditionning levels checked as well as all the equipments (air conditioning, electric windows, central locking, alarm, radio, CD player, windshield wipers, headlights, indicators, etc). Finally, make sure that the gearbox works perfectly. Once the test drive is finished, the keys should be returned to the vendor before getting out of the vehicle.
Make a very careful examination of the vehicle's bodywork
A careful examination of the bodywork will reveal any parts that are not properly aligned, this being a potential sign of the vehicle having been involved in an accident in the past. Putting the car on a ramp enables you to examine its body frame and to see any signs of an oil leak or of a lack of lubrication. You should also check the tire pressure and any abnormal tire wear which is a sign of a potential balance or geometry problem. Similarly, if the vehicle has over 50-60,000 km on the clock, the state of its brakes' discs and pads should be checked.
In conclusion, by a careful check of all these previously mentioned points (this is a non-exhaustive list) and by making use of simple common sense, such as calling (during the opening hours) the bank (make sure that the phone number on the cheque actually matches the one in the yellow pages) to verify that the bank cheque (issued directly by the bank) is valid, you can limit any risk of a dispute and legal action, nobody being exempt of it in case of a wrong doing. In any event, the purchaser should provide an ID document and proof of address (a recent electricity bill, for example) which will be used to complete the car's ownership transfer certificate that only the owner who is selling the vehicle can complete. In the case of a vehicle which belongs to a company or is being leased, only the company's legal representative can sign up the certificate. As soon as the transfer of property has been finalized and before driving the car, the purchaser should inform his insurance company at once and fill up the registration application form to get the vehicle's new title registration from the local Prefecture's Department of Motor Vehicles and Titles or use a car dealer officially accredited services to carry out the vehicle registration procedures (SIV - vehicle registration system).