For those of you that want to spend a little more money on a euro spec used car and stay away from the lemon lot, you should check out Autohaus Schwinn, right outside the Vogelweh gate. I purchased a car from them last week and it was one of the more enjoyable car buying experiences I've ever had. They had sales people that spoke English, and I never felt like I was taken advantage of. Just like in the United States, you can negotiate. I was able to drop the price by 300 euro, have the timing belt changed (700 euro job) and have the car inspected by the German TUV instead of the joke we have for the American inspection at Vogelweh. The car also comes with a 1 year warranty for the engine, transmission and suspension and also comes with winter and summer tire sets + rims! I ended up going to this dealership after researching the type of car I wanted on AutoScout24 and realizing Schwinn had the exact car and price I was looking for. If you're going to buy from a dealer, make sure they sell some sort of brand at their dealership or some sort of reputation. The first car I looked at looked great on AutoScout24, but the alarm bells went off as I pulled up to the "dealership", which was a converted gas station with 5 cars in their inventory. I test drove the car and clearly there was something wrong with the vehicle's suspension. The response I received was "that's sports car handling since it's low profile". yeah, right.
The other cool thing about buying a used car from the Germans is the amount of records a vehicle comes with. You will know how many owners the car had, how many and how often the car has been serviced, where it was serviced at, results from every TUV inspection etc.
This option is clearly not for everyone. It can be a little pricey and there is no guarantee you will lose your as$ when you go to sell the car when it's time to leave Germany. However, I feel like I've purchased peace of mind for the next three years (hopefully) and if I lose 2-3K over the 3 years I use it, so what? The idea of selling a car for the same amount you purchased it for is ludicrous. When I first arrived in 2012, I purchased a BMW 5 series off the lemon lot and it was a total disaster. I'm sure there are a lot of good, honest people that sell cars at the lemon lot, but there are a lot of snakes too. Unfortunately, the snake I purchased the BMW from was a SM that lied to me. Oh well, lesson learned.
I would totally recommend Autohaus Schwinn to purchase a car from. Good luck!
One thing I forgot to mention is VAT.
So there are some rules with the VAT when purchasing a used car. The VAT can only be applied to a vehicle one time in it's life cycle. If the used car in question used to be owned by someone, there is no VAT to pay on the vehicle, thus no VAT form. If the vehicle was leased or owned by a corporation prior to you purchasing the car, a VAT will be charged.
Thank you. Great info to have.