The habits of rich Germans, who get bored with their cars quickly, that they care deeply for, fix in authorized service stations, keep in garages, hardly ever drive and if so – only on roads as smooth as glass. These cars, which are given the royal treatment, are then sold for a low price – which is most often what leads Poles past our Western border to buy used cars.
Was this conviction built on facts, or has it grown around myths of German reliability? It’s definitely worth establishing if this is a true sentiment before we join the crowds of those seeking automotive deals across the Odra and the Nysa. It is also worth knowing which formalities we need to face when bringing a used car from Germany to Poland, which additional fees await and how to best prepare for the purchase.
Sellers know what buyers want to hear
“Brought from Germany, only one owner, never used on Polish roads, no clicks and clacks in the suspension, engine running smoothly and quietly, clean and well-kept inside, authentic mileage, rich equipment…” Polish auction advertising sites are filled with similarly worded offers. Usually, the only fact that cannot be questioned is that the cars are indeed from Germany.
According to data put together by Bankier.pl from August 2016, the vast majority of used cars sold in Poland come from our neighbors to the West. In 2015, their share in the market was as much as 49 percent. The second place shares went to cars purchased in Polish car showrooms – 31 percent, and the rest consists of cars brought from France, Holland, Belgium and the USA – from 1 to 6 percent. In November 2016, the Polish Association of Automotive Industry’s data showed that there are months during which 82k used cars are imported, meaning the annual sum could exceed 900k.
Most advertisements are posted by professional sellers. A growing problem is that Polish clients are becoming more distrustful and independent. Their imagination is fed with TV shows disclosing car dealers’ cheats and hoaxes. The most common trick is the lowering of the actual mileage by reversing the odometer. This is a violation of the Art. 286 § 1 of the Criminal Code: “Whoever, in order to gain material benefits, leads another person to the negative self-regulation or someone else's property by placing it in error or exploiting errors or inability to properly understand the undertaken action is punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 8 years.”
The vast majority of these instances of dishonesty go unpunished, as hardly any people buying cars with fraudulently lowered mileage decide to sue the dealer and go to court. There are, however, darker stories, where it turns out that the car, which according to the ad and assurance from the dealer, has a collision-free history or has only been in a mild accident turns out to have been in a serious crash.
Dealers know exactly what we’d like to read in an ad and hear during a conversation. – Each client wants a collision-free history, mileage below 150 thousand kilometers, reliable, serviced, and kept in a garage. One can even point out that a former German owner cried when he was selling the car… - ironically sums up a car deal from Jarocin, with whom we discussed the used car market in Poland.
I make a profit by repairing cars domestically
In practice, it’s not common for someone to sell a car in a perfect shape. And if it does happen, they usually have a family member who knows a thing or two about cars who will assist with communication with the dealer.
- I can’t take responsibility for the misdeeds of other representatives of the market. However, I don’t avoid broken cars or those that are post-collisions. I can’t even think of a way this business would run otherwise. The German owners and used car shops operating in Germany aren’t naïve, and they won’t get rid of good stock for next to nothing. But, servicing a car west of the border is incomparably more expensive than it is in Poland.
This is why I don’t shy away from bringing damaged cars. I fix them in Poland, where I have access to cheaper parts, cheaper labor, and cheaper shops to maintain. As soon as I’m done with all of this, I post an ad. But, I know how people react to the fact that the car has a collision in its history. That is why I don’t put this in my offer. The time for that is when somebody is interested in one of my offers. Then I explain what needed to be fixed, and how and why it was necessary. I reason that the reparation doesn’t decrease the comfort and safety of the car. The final decision is always to be made by the client – said the dealer from Jarocin.
Contrary opinions come from other people in this business, who say that it’s equally profitable to bring cars which are fully operational and haven’t been in any accidents.
- A customer from Germany usually won’t look for a car that is older than 10 years because they can afford newer models. In this segment, supply exceeds demand, and this is why prices aren’t very high. Meanwhile in Poland, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Toyota are still popular brands, even though they are the same age. If I can prove that the car is well kept and has collision-free history to the client, I can go ahead and put my margin on it and count on fast sell and profit – assured us a car dealer from Babimost. How much can he make on a single car? – I usually try to make 1000 profit, but each case is different. Sometimes I need to do with a minimal margin or simply break even. In the most extreme cases, I can lose money or put the car in the resale shop of an owner I know in some other voivodeship just to get the cash back in a relatively short period of time. It’s obvious that I try to make more on a new and more expensive car, and less on an older and cheaper one. If I can sell five cars in a month, I’m happy – said the dealer.
How to sub the dealer
- My sister wanted to buy a used Mini Cooper and asked me for help. I looked through the offers from Lubusz, Greater Poland, Lower Silesian and West Pomeranian Voivodeships. After that I decided: we’re going to Berlin! – Adam, 41 year old citizen of Zielona Gora told us.
Why? – I was under the impression that cars from Poland were either post-collision, or had their mileage lowered, or the dealers wanted unreal money for them – said Adam – We went there on a Saturday morning. We visited the most popular places, big and small ones, which sold used cars. At that point, my sister hadn’t seen anything she liked. My friend who lives in Berlin helped us out. We asked and he quickly looked through ads posted by private sellers in the newspapers, this is how we found a red Mini from 2004 with a 1.6 l petrol engine. Having seen the car, its state didn’t give any reasons for concern. We signed a contract and paid with cash. Unfortunately, it was too late to complete the remaining formalities. We got back to Berlin on Monday and got the temporary plates, insurance and other documents.
The rest of the issues related to registering the car, its insurance and vehicle technical inspection we got sorted out in Poland. In the end, I summed up the expenses and compared it to the offers available in Poland. It turned out, that there were in fact cars from the same year, with the same engine and equipment that were cheaper, but the majority of Mini Coopers sold in Poland were more expensive. This is why I think that the trip paid off. Even if the search for it was long and took two Saturdays, it would still have been worth it. The mechanics said that the car we bought was in a very good condition, and my sister is assured her Mini Cooper doesn’t have its mileage lowered or a hidden collision history – reported Adam.
Step by step, expense by expense
Those who go to Germany to get their cars often count that they will find something for themselves. However, it’s also reasonable to check the ads on mobile.de or autoscout24.de beforehand, for example. If the transaction will be completed, we will need to sign a contract and pay cash. However, the last minute currency exchange at a foreign currency exchange office along the border doesn’t pay off. Usually, the amounts needing to be exchanged aren’t low (using the example of 6k euro). This means that currency exchange at a more competitive rate using an online company could save us around 1.3k PLN (all rates from Cinkciarz.pl from December 05, 2016), which will surely come in handy to cover the expenses of taking your new car from Germany to Poland legally. Dealers who want to go to Berlin to pick up a few cars at once, take and deal with larger amounts of money, and are able to save even more. Competitive exchange rates, saving time, the safety and access to its services 24/7 with no risk related to getting counterfeit money or the wrong calculation of cash are all guaranteed by Cinkciarz.pl.
Those who are experienced in this business recommend securing some money in order to be prepared if the case of staying the night in Germany is necessary, or the purchased car breaks down. This is why it is worth picking up some extra money in addition to the amount for the car and necessary fees.
Cars sold in Germany are usually already unregistered and have no plates. This is why after signing the sale and purchase agreement and acquiring the German registration document and the vehicle’s card, we need to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (Zulassungstelle) in order to get the temporary registration document with the data of the new owner (cost is about 60 euro) and the temporary plates with a short term insurance plan. The cheaper version – plates with a yellow stripe and a 5 day validity cost 75 euro, and temporary plates with a red stripe and valid for 1 month cost 200 euro. Only then, can we leave Germany in a new car or have it transported by a tow truck. The rest of the formalities are sorted in Poland. These would be the translation of the documents, the vehicle’s technical inspection, paying excise tax in the customs office and finally, the registration of the car.
It is very important at this stage to know the size of the engine, because the amount of excise tax is calculated using its capacity – 3.1 percent for capacity below 2l and 18.6 percent above 2l. Additionally, since January 2017, the rates of excise will change significantly. The older the car that we are purchasing and the bigger the engine, the larger that the excise amount will be.
In summary, we need to add approximately 2k PLN to the price of the car, plus whatever the insurance will cost.