Buying/selling used vehicles.....privately

Three helps, please:

  1. when considering buying a used vehicle, is it normal to have it checked over as the CT check seems rudimentary to me? And who do you ask to do it if you’re as incompetent and unknowledgeable about vehicles as I am?
  2. when selling a vehicle privately, what responsibility does one have after the sale; meaning, of course, what recourse does the buyer have?
  3. when preparing a used vehicle for sale in Australia, we had it what we called “detailed”; in other words, it was made to look spic and span inside and out. Is that done in France and, if so, what is the term used here?
    I very much appreciate any advice; thank you.

There’s load of info on Google… but here is one link… don’t be misled by the title…

  1. Since last year the CT is significantly less rudimentary than it used to be.
  2. For a private sale, basically the seller has to be honest about any known faults. If a fault becomes apparent after the sale, the first question would be, was the fault present at the time of the sale, and if the answer to that is Probably Yes the second question would be, did the seller know about it. If the answer to that is also Yes then the seller must rectify it or alternatively refund the money and take the vehicle back.
    If you don’t know a lot about cars, it might be a good plan to buy a used vehicle from a garage because whilst a private seller isn’t expected to recognise every slightest sign of a potential fault on a vehicle, arguably a garage is. And in my experience garages tend to be very rigorous in putting faults right on cars they sell.

Thank you, Stella. Have had a look at that link, for which thank you, but I’m more interested in people’s personal experiences, particularly with my questions 1. and 2.

Again, thank you, Stella; will peruse.

Thank you for your response, Anna.
Re 1., I have just had the CT check done on my car and several things that I know are wrong were not detected; partly, I suppose because they didn’t do a diagnostic check. So I’m sceptical about the value of a CT.
2. Yes, that’s what I imagined to be the case but what body can enforce that the seller rectifies those faults or refunds the money and takes the vehicle back if the seller is “difficult”?
3. About “detailing”, what’s that called in UK…valeting, perhaps? And in France?

OK… answering your question in no particular order…

A Seller may or may not bother with valeting…

A CT must be less than 4/6 months old… and it is used as a reasonable picture of the state of the car…

A Seller is honour bound to mention anything which is wrong, which might not show in the CT…

A Buyer will inspect the car…and quite often ask a knowledgeable friend to take a look too… A car with full service history should give no worries… but you never know…

Depending on the car and its value… garages can do a check-before-you-buy. Paying for that might be worth it…

Mercedes keep stuff on their computers, so a check with them should be straight forward…

Frankly, the onus is on the Buyer not to be a “mug” and the onus on the Seller is not to be a “conman”…

Others will chime in, who have more experience than I do…

I think that what an individual does when buying a car has more to do with the individual than the country that they are doing it in. How much help they require when looking at a car and whether they think that it’s worth paying for someone else to make it look better than it is are individual choices.
A CT is a fairly strict check on the roadworthyness of a car and whether it meets exhaust regulations. It is quite possible for a car to have a whole list of faults that aren’t appropriate for the tester to take into consideration. The air con might be broken, the radio might not work and the boot might not lock but those things don’t matter. The state of its, wheels, tyres, brakes, lights, seatbelts, engine tune, steering and the oil tightness of its engine do. Scratches and dents in the bodywork don’t count, jagged holes do. As you have asked it I believe that your question is impossible to answer.

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but I think we have given it a fair go, even so, eh David… :thinking: :grin:

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If you have recently bought a car in France why have you had a CT carried out on it? In France it is a requirement for second hand cars to be sold with at least 18 months remaining on their test certificate as that is a requirement when it comes to repair-registering in the new owner’s name.

Those are good and useful points; thank you.

Thank you, David.
It does appear that fewer sellers here have their cars detailed as I call it, or valeted as you guys call it, before sale which I find interesting. Assuming I’m correct in that, it means that French buyers care less about the cleanliness of the car they’re buying than is the case in Australia. That’s a “country” preference rather than an individual preference…hence my question. Personally, if I go to look at a car and it’s dirty on the outside and the same on the inside with stains etc, my immediate impression of it would definitely be detrimentally affected.
Re the CT, I certainly wouldn’t have bought my own car based on its CT! There were a lot of additional things wrong with it about which a buyer would have been very dismayed. All fixed now but I’ll certainly never rely on a CT when buying privately.
I’m not sure which of my questions " is impossible to answer".

What were the problems that you knew about that were not picked up by the CT?
In the UK the motoring organisations will do a survey on a used car for a price but that is quite different from a CT. I know nothing about Australia but I presume there is a system of roadworthyness tests there as well. Would they inform a buyer about cosmetic or minor electrical or comfort problems? I think that you have completely misunderstood the role of the CT.
I disagree with you idea that a nation looks after their cars one way and another nation a different way. That really is down to individuals. In fact individuals have different standards according to the car in question. Outside my house is my everyday car and except for the glass and lights it is filthy. I use it every day on muddy country roads. Under that veneer however it is in excellent condition. It gets washed a few times now and again and might even get polished once in a blue moon. It doesn’t have to look shiny to be mechanically first class. In my barn I have other vehicles which are very different, they are almost immaculate inside and out. Different vehicles, different uses, different expectations same owner. If I did decide to put my everyday car on the market I could have it looking valeted inside and out within a couple of hours but I certainly wouldn’t pay someone to do it for me.
I would like to know what the faults were.

Well it’s the law, so if the seller refuses it would end up in court. But that is an expensive process and if the seller was found to be at fault they would have to pay, so it would be a bit stupid of them. And in fact, knowing that it’s the law and it is enforced, most sellers seem to be honest. If you look at used car ads on leboncoin, you will see they list the things that will need attention (à prévoir) and instead having photos of a gleaming car taken from its best side, they show close ups of all the stone chips and dents and rusty bits and rips in the upholstery.

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Happy for you and David to bow out any time you wish as you have indeed given it a “fair go”.
Hopefully someone who has actually been through both buying and selling will let me know their personal experiences.

No need for that when people have tried to help

You may have misunderstood… I have bought and sold in France… and my replies come from my own experience… I have not had problems with the cars I have bought… nor with the cars I have sold…

You are not happy with the CT done on your car… and are “perhaps” wondering about the worth of it when buying/selling… perhaps someone has had similar experience to you… I do not know…

Best of luck…

If you would only tell us what the faults were it might be easier to give you the answer that you want. The way I bought in France was no different to those that I bought in Germany or in England before that. I presume you feel that you’ve been had and want to blame the system.

New DPF required; spasmodic lack of acceleration when using the accelerator pedal or the cruise control, resulting in very little overtaking; faulty electric locking mechanism; faulty USB sockets; plus other minor faults.
Yes, Australia has several equivalents to the AA for a proper check.
Yes, there is a system of roadworthiness tests in Australia.
I may well have misunderstood the role of the CT but it is based upon people advertising their cars for sale seemingly placing undue emphasis on it. Having had my experience with my car, now I know better.
We’ll agree to differ about different nations caring for their cars differently.
Of course a shiny car does not equate with a mechanically sound car but, when it comes to selling, a bit of a clean inside and out wouldn’t cut the mustard with people in some other countries; Australia and USA to name two. Hence my question about the situation in France.
So I guess the answers to my original questions remain unanswered in specific terms. But thank you for your input.