How to make sure you a covered when buying a second-hand car
We have recently had some customers affected by the issues that can arise after the purchase of a second-hand car, where they didn’t have any paperwork for it or when the cars have even been impounded by the police. We are going to highlight the points that buyers should be very aware of when buying a second-hand car or bike, regardless whether this be from an individual or a business.
The first thing to remember is that if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. We all know about buying a car with an embargo on it or with outstanding finance, but how does it work if you buy a car from a third party who isn’t the legal owner of the vehicle and the actual owner doesn’t get paid, this is what we are going to clarify.
The name of the registered keeper is shown on the permiso de circulación and on the Tráfico data base, this is the only legally registered owner unless you can prove that you have paid the registered keeper for the car and that the paperwork is pending being transferred. Problems often arise when you buy a car through a third party, whether it be a dealer or an individual, as, if you pay the third party you are not the legal owner of the car. This is when the police can impound the car if the registered keeper notifies them that the car has been “stolen” or has been sold without them receiving payment or indeed without their permission. In this case the purchaser would be left without the car and the monies paid and you would need to reclaim the payment from the third party, whom you paid and who in many cases either didn’t have the authority to sell and/or does not have the money to reimburse you.
Let’s look at a few scenarios:
You check the paperwork and the registered keeper isn’t the person you are buying the car from.
You are then in fact buying the car from a third party. Ask questions such as, is the third party authorised to sell said vehicle? If they are a dealer, then selling the car on behalf of the owner they would be required by law to possess a written and signed document stating that, or they should be able to put you in contact directly with the owner for you to deal with them. If they are an individual then the same rules apply they would need to be able to prove that they have permission to sell the car. The scenarios here to consider are perhaps husband/wife estranged possibly, son/daughter where parent is old/incapacitated or perhaps even has died.
You’ve checked that the seller has written permission.
In this case, you are able to go ahead and purchase the car without an issue as long as any paperwork you are given is signed by the owner and not the third party selling the car and providing you have checked the car for debts.
The seller cannot provide proof that they have the authorization to sell the car but you purchase the car anyway.
In this case, if the registered keeper reclaims the car due to non-payment then you as the buyer could be left without both the car and the monies paid. You would have to denounce the third party whom you paid in an attempt to reclaim the monies. This as we all know takes a long time and, in the meantime, you are car less and out of pocket.
How do you make sure you are safe?
Always ask as many questions as needed until you feel 100% secure that the car is available for sale by an authorized person or the owner. You would need to make sure that the name on the invoice, if buying from a dealer, or the name on the contract of purchase-sale, if buying from an individual, matches the name on the permiso de circulación. Never purchase a vehicle if the seller cannot prove they are the legal owner or authorized.
It is impossible to cover all scenarios but we have highlighted some of the most common in order to try and help safeguard the buyer. As always, its buyer beware.