CAR IN BULGARIA: SECOND HAND CARS
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In this article we look closer at second hand cars.
Bulgaria is a beautiful country and just cruising around the country side is already a good reason to have one. Other people will need a car just for getting to work or doing the groceries. A car is freedom and therefore it is good to know a little bit more about owning a car in Bulgaria. In our series of articles on Car in Bulgaria, we take a closer look at second hand cars in Bulgaria.
One day you want a car and you cannot afford a new one. You are in the market for a second hand car. And there are plenty in Bulgaria. Statistics show that 70% of the cars driving in Bulgaria are second hand. Over 30% of them are older than 20 years. Many cars that are not allowed elsewhere find their way to the Balkan. You might have seen the many cars with company logo’s of former owners abroad. So plenty to choose from, but what should you keep in mind and which is a good choice?
There are plenty used car dealers around. Your alternative is importing a car. Both have positive and negative aspects, we will take a look at. In our article Car in Bulgaria: Registration we looked closer at how to become a registered car owner, let us also dive into the world of second hand cars.
When buying a second hand car there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it is always smart to bring a mechanic to inspect the car for you. If you need one, we can advise someone. Second, compare prices to similar offers in other countries. This way you see if an offer even makes sense. Third, be aware that the second hand car industry is not much regulated in Bulgaria. Cars can be tricked with lower mileage, inferior parts, missing items, etc.
Than, it is good to keep in mind, that petrol engines are generally speaking good for around 250.000 km. A diesel engine can run up to 350.000 km. Of course there are exceptions. Maintenance cost of petrol engines is generally speaking less than maintenance of diesel engines. If you buy a gas engine, your running cost are lower, but your gas installation requires more checks. Depending on your budget, check if replacement parts are available and/or will not cost too much. Also bear in mind that the higher maintenance cost start at an age of around 10 years for most cars.
When you inspect a car, always ask if both keys are present. Always ask for the maintenance booklet and see if the car has been maintained properly. You might even find the original mileage ;). Check if all the parts are present: spare wheel, crutch, etc. Have a mechanic check the vitals and engine and you can see if everything else works: windshield wipers, lights, seat belts etc.
Lastly, after you buy the car, calculate some cost for replacing the consumables: filters, liquids, break pads, timing belt, water pump, oil pump, etc. This way you know you have a fresh start. For further information, see also: Car in Bulgaria: Yearly Cost.
Cars come in many shapes and prices. On websites such as Mobile.bg or Olx.bg you can find many second hand cars. Some offered by dealers, some private. Beware of false advertising, just to lure you to the sales place. Also you will notice that individual car prices can come down fast.
As stated before, we strongly advise to compare car prices with prices for similar cars in other countries. A car offered for BGN 4000 in Bulgaria and the same car cost € 4000 in other countries, you just know the offer is not possible. Something was done with the car.
Let us look at the payment of a car. There are two options: cash payment or a lease scheme. We skip trading in an old car, obviously this is possible and makes a difference. With a full cash payment, you are immediately the owner of the car. With a lease scheme the lease provider remains owner for the duration of the lease.
When paying on lease, you make an initial payment. And with that you opt for a financial lease scheme or a lease on loan scheme. Lease schemes often have a residual value option. Residual value is the amount you pay at the end of the lease to become the owner of the car. A higher residual value means lower rates, and vice versa. It depends on the car, initial payment and the lease scheme if this is an option. If you opt for a lease scheme, ask for the conditions of both options.
A full cash payment is always preferable in Bulgaria. Your position is stronger to barter for a lower price. Sometimes it is smart to borrow an amount from your own bank and purchase with cash. This depends on your personal situation and the rates your bank offers.
When you buy a car from a private person, a cash payment is the only way.
Lease schemes always require an initial payment. You pay 20% or more of the car value and you sign a lease agreement for the remaining sum. A lease period is limited at 60 monthly installments. When leasing, your position to barter is less strong, but not impossible. The lease company will have restrictions on the usage of the car. Restrictions can be, mandatory full casco insurance, limited yearly mileage, additional lease service payments and mandatory dealer maintenance. Ask for the lease conditions to avoid surprises.
The dealer will go through all the paperwork, perform a credit check and you agree to a monthly installment. VAT can be spread out or paid in the beginning. Leasing is not free. To start a lease you pay a service fee. Interest ranges between 3%-6% on the borrowed sum. And at the end of the lease you pay a notary fee to transfer the car in your name.
Very similar to the financial lease scheme, the lease on loan is basically a loan from a bank, organised by the dealer. A difference is that you will become owner of the car immediately. The conditions depend on the bank, the restrictions are different or none.
All car brand dealerships offer occasions as trade ins or lease returns. On their websites it is (usually) easy to find the section with occasions in the main menu. Offers are at reasonable market value. Trade ins come with or without limited warranty and usually have high mileage. This does not mean they are bad cars. Lease returns are dealership cars returned from a number of years of lease. Lease returned cars often still have a factory warranty left.
Most second hand cars are imported. All around Bulgaria you can find car importers. These dealers are usually located just outside the city limits. Typical advertisements are “Newly imported” “From North of Italy” “Only German cars” or “Guaranteed Mileage”. These offers can certainly look very appealing. And here comes the but: you can never be certain of the offer. Unfortunately there are no regulations on occasions or on the state of them. With consumer protection still in its infancy, the chance you buy something else than advertised is very real.
Some tips for this situation:
All too often we heard stories of people buying a car that runs back and forth to the work shop. If your intention is to spend little, but buy some reliable car. In our opinion, it is best to buy via car brand dealers. They have a name to uphold and thus will less likely cheat you.
Just a short note on these type of vehicles. Obviously these type of cars are welcome alternatives. Bear in mind that these cars often become second hand offers just before the end of the battery life. And replacing battery packs is a costly affair. When you have in mind to get one of these cars, always check very well what the life expectation of the batteries is.
Also keep in mind that charging the car is not as common in many other countries. Charging stations are not yet readily available in Bulgaria. While charging in front of your house, will enable possibilities for electricity or material theft. We do not know of government incentives for (private) charge stations compensations.
You can opt to import your own car. Within the EU it is easy to export and import a car. The advantage is, that you can choose where and what to import. Countries like The Netherlands and Germany have systems in place to avoid changing the mileage, while car owners usually spend more on maintenance. In theory you have a better chance to find better value for money. The disadvantage is, that you need to do all the work. And of course there are also risks here to buy something wrong, this risk is all yours. Fortunately there are many people in Bulgaria, that will go in your place to pick up the car.
In the country of purchase you get an export license plate and transfer insurance. Usually the insurance can be purchased online and is valid for one month. When in Bulgaria you visit KAT for the registration in Bulgaria. Your paperwork and car will be checked and the registration takes a morning to do. You hand in the (export) license plates and the Bulgarian Traffic Police will report your car for de-registration in the country of origin. For information on the registration, see Car in Bulgaria: Registration.
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