How To Buy A Second Hand Car In Spain: Your Step-By-Step Guide

Spain boasts an excellent public transport system but many people living in the country prefers the convenience of having their own car to get around. When moving to Spain you will need to find the right property for you as well as transport all of your belongings from your home country.

But transporting your car can be expensive and time-consuming. You’re likely to also prefer a left-hand drive vehicle if you’re driving in Spain in the long term rather than your right-hand drive car from the UK.

Which means it’s time to find the perfect second-hand Spanish car for you. Not sure where to start? There are several key steps you should take before you part with your money and the Spanish DGT website can be a valuable resource to keep you on the right track.

 Here’s everything you need to know about how to buy a secondhand car in Spain.

Step 1: Check The Car Thoroughly

In our increasingly digital age, there are very few things you can’t do online. But buying a new car shouldn’t be one of them. You can use the internet to find potential new vehicles but you should see them in person before you hand over any cash. Online photos can be deceiving!

Arrange to see the car in daylight so that you can check for any damage to the paint, , or signs of an accident with ease. If you can, take a professional with you to check over the vehicle. Even a friend or family member who knows more about cars than you can provide a helpful second opinion.

Other checks you should perform when you first see a potential new car include checking that the tyres are in good useable condition and that their tread is at least 1.6mm deep. Open the bonnet to check that the engine is clean and to ensure the oil and timing belt are in good condition.

Once you’ve looked under the bonnet check the car interior too. Check that the door locks work properly and check that the seats adjust and the seatbelts work properly. Sit in the drivers seat and press every switch and button, making sure that they work as they should and all lights illuminate correctly.

Finally, you should never agree to buy a car until you’ve driven it. Drive it to make sure it’s a smooth ride, listen for any unusual engine sounds, and stop and start the vehicle regularly. On their website the DGT recommends that you press the brake pedal fully for 20 seconds -- if it does not return to its initial position then the brake isn’t working correctly.

Step 2: Ensure You Can Legally Purchase The Vehicle

Just because a car looks and sounds great doesn’t mean you’re ready to make your purchase. A car should be legally transferable and free of outstanding charges or debts before you make any payment.

The easiest way to do this is to visit the DGT website and request a vehicle report. This process is not only easy, it’s also free.  So what will this report actually tell you? It will enable you to check if the vehicle is registered, whether there are any charges, taxes, and anything else that could affect the vehicle being sold.

It’s important to note that this report will only give you an overview. If it reveals that the car has had an accident or has outstanding fees, then you will need to  request a more detailed status report or visit the DGT offices to get extra information about the position of the vehicle.

Step 3: Sign The Contract

Car looks good? Reports look good and there’s no outstanding charges or debts on the car? Then you’re ready to sign the contract and buy your new car! If you’re buying your vehicle directly from the current owner then it’s likely that they won’t have a contract in place so you may need to draw this up yourslef. You can download a DGT template contract here. And you can adapt this to suit your needs.

When creating a sales contract, it must always contain the following information:

  • Details of the buyer: Name and surname(s) or company name(s) and their DNI/NIE/CIF.
  • Details of the seller: Name and surname(s) or company name(s) and their DNI/NIE/CIF.
  • Vehicle details: Make, model and registration number.
  • Agreed purchase price.
  • Date and time at which the contract was signed.

Step 4: Pay Your Transfer Taxes

 When shopping for a secondhand car it’s important to consider any additional costs on top of your initial purchase price. One of these is transfer taxes. You must pay, or justify the exemption or non-payment of the Property Transfer Tax (IPT) as appropriate, in the region of Spain when you are tax registered.

 Step 5: Register As The Owner Of The Car

Congratulations! You’ve purchased a lovely new (to you) car. When you have made your payment and the car is yours the final step is to change the legal ownership of the car with the DGT.

You have a period of 30 days from signing the contract to transferring ownership of the vehicle. If you don’t do this within 30 days then you could be subject to a fine. The good news is that the process is easy and it only  costs €55.70. You can request it through the DGT here.

 Have you always dreamt of retiring to Spain? Whether you’re looking for golden mile properties in Marbella or bargain property in Andalucia, our local property experts are perfectly placed to turn your dreams into a reality. Why not get in touch to find out more about how we can help you.