Buying a car, what you should know
Buying a second-hand car in Tenerife can be a nightmare if you do not know what to do becaise it is not as simple as it would be in the UK even if there was’nt a language barrier.
The most important thing to do is to ensure the vehicle is free from debts and you should always, when buying privately, ensure that a check is made BEFORE you part with any money- not even a deposit.
If you are buying from a dealer or reputable garage then, normally the cars they are selling would be free from debts as the company would be the legal owner and will have themselves carried out such checks before they purchased. Some dealers however sell on behalf of third parties and as they are not the actual legal owners there could be the danger of the car have debts attached to it.
If you have decided to buy privately and have had the car checked and find there is a “Reserva ” on it the car cannot, at that time be transferred. A Reserva is similar to an Embargo in so much as it prevents the transfer of the car but relates solely to credit and nothing else. In some cases it will be that the finance has indeed been paid off but it has not been cleared off the central register. To be able to do this the person who took out the loans would have to obtain a form called a CARTA DE PAGO. Basically this is a certificate supplied by the finance house confirming that the loan has been paid in full. Some companies will provide these free of charge on request but others may levy a charge and these are sometimes quite substantial (up to 100 Euros in some companies), some accept a request by phone where others will not and it all depends on the individual loan companies.
Once you have the certificate it must be presented at the oficina de Registro Mercantil in Santa Cruz (assuming the car and finance were arranged here on the island). Three days after the presentation of this and of course paying them their fee, (nothing is ever free here!). The car will be clear to transfer. You may be surprised to hear that even many spaniards are unaware of the need for this Certificate.
This situation does not apply if the money has been borrowed from a bank as a personal loan as this will not have been registered in the same way. This is why it is important to check out a car that you might be buying off the side of the road or from someone you know.