Car Buying Terms In Germany: Glossary You Need To Know

Navigating the car buying process in Germany excites and daunts you, especially if you are unfamiliar with the specific terms used in the industry. This guide aims to equip you with the glossary of essential vocabulary and insights to negotiate your way to a successful purchase confidently. On the other hand, knowing the car-buying terms glossary will show you the exact angle from which you can make a deal when shopping for a vehicle in Germany.

Glossary Terms For Buying and Exporting German Vehicles

From understanding the difference between “Fahrzeugbrief” and “Fahrzeugschein” to knowing what “TÜV” stands for, we’ll cover the key terms in the glossary that are crucial when purchasing a car in the country. So buckle up and prepare to embark on your auto-buying journey in Germany!

Car Buying Terms Glossary:

  • Scheckheft: Service booklet (detailed record of maintenance)
  • Historie: History (vehicle’s repair and ownership history)
  • Bastlerfahrzeug: Project car (needs repairs or restoration)
  • Unfallwagen: Accident car
  • Vollkasko (Vollkaskoversicherung): Comprehensive insurance
  • Teilkasko (Teilkaskoversicherung): Partial insurance
  • Probefahrt: Test drive
  • Fahrzeug: Vehicle (general term for car)
  • TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverein): Technical inspection association (similar to an MOT test in the UK)
  • HU (Hauptuntersuchung): Main technical inspection (primary TÜV inspection)
  • AU (Abgasuntersuchung): Emission test (part of the TÜV inspection)
  • Scheckheftgepflegt: Maintained with service booklet (shows documented service history)
  • Unfallfrei: Accident-free
  • Garantie (Gewährleistung): Warranty (legal guarantee for defects)
  • Händler (Autohaus): Dealer (car dealership)
  • Privatverkauf: Private sale (buying directly from the owner)
  • Autokaufvertrag: A “car purchase contract,” also known as a “vehicle purchase agreement,” is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale of a vehicle from a seller to a buyer.

“Festpreis” and “Verhandlungsbasis” are two essential terms in the ca-buying glossary.


  • Festpreis is a fixed price, meaning the seller is unwilling to negotiate.
  • Often, new vehicles or cars in good condition are the case.
  • If you see a car listed with a Festpreis, you can be sure that you can only get a lower price with reasonable price negotiation skills.


  • Verhandlungsbasis means that the seller is willing to negotiate the price.
  • This is often the case for used cars or autos that need repairs.
  • If you see a vehicle listed with a Verhandlungsbasis, you can negotiate a lower price with the seller.

Most Expensive Car Damage Terms

  • Motor raucht: The engine is smoking, indicating possible overheating or oil leak.
  • Motor klappert: The engine has a knocking sound or rattles, suggesting loose or worn parts.
  • Motorschaden: Engine failure, meaning the engine is no longer functional, possibly has knocked.
  • Getriebschaden: “Gearbox damage”, indicating a vehicle’s gear system malfunction.

Tips for Negotiating a Price

  • Prepare to negotiate if you want a car with a Verhandlungsbasis.
  • Do your research and know what the car is worth.
  • If you can’t agree on a price, prepare to walk away.
  • Be polite and respectful during the negotiation process.

Here are some additional tips for buying a car in Germany:

  • Have a mechanic inspect the motor vehicle before you buy it.
  • Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork.
  • Be aware of the import regulations in your country.

By following these tips, you can be sure to have a smooth and successful experience buying a car in Germany.

Car Export Terms Glossary:

  • Zollfreigrenze: The duty-free limit is the amount to customs that do not apply duties.
  • Zollwert (Zollschuld): Customs value (declared value for customs duties)
  • Verzollung: Customs clearance (the process of paying any applicable duties and taxes)
  • Transitpapiere: Transit documents (required for driving the car through other countries)
  • Freigabebescheid: Release certificate (issued by customs after clearance)
  • Container: Container shipping (alternative to RoRo, for more valuable vehicles)
  • Zoll (Zollamt): Customs office
  • Zollpapiere: Customs documents
  • Ausfuhrkennzeichen: Export license plates (temporary plates for driving the car out of Germany)
  • Rote Kennzeichen: Car dealerships in Germany receive red license plates as temporary plates.
  • Zollverfahren: Customs procedure (process for clearing the car through customs)
  • COC-Papier (Certificate of Conformity): Certificate of Conformity (document proving the car meets import regulations)
  • Spedition (Frachtunternehmen): Freight forwarding company (arranges car shipping)
  • Roll on/Roll off (RoRo): Roll on/Roll off shipping (standard method for car transport)
  • Incoterms: International commercial terms (define responsibilities between buyer and seller during export)

Additional Terms:

  • HU/AU Plakette: Inspection sticker (shows the validity of the TÜV inspection)
  • Abgasnorm: Emission standard (Euro 6, etc.)
  • Kilometerstand: Mileage
  • Anzahl der Vorbesitzer: Number of previous owners
  • Anzahl der Schlüssel: Number of keys
  • Brief (Fahrzeugbrief): Vehicle registration document (proof of ownership)
  • Zulassung (Zulassungsbescheinigung): Vehicle registration certificate
  • Abmeldebescheinigung: Deregistration certificate (needed for export)
  • Vollmacht (Vollmacht zum Export): Some countries may require a power of attorney for export.

Family Conflict Terms:

  • Erbstück translates to “inheritance”, and one could use it to refer to a car under dispute as part of a family inheritance.
  • Familienauto: While this term refers to a ‘family car,’ it can have a negative connotation if the car stirs up family tension.

Bank Conflict Terms:

  • Pfandfahrzeug: This translates to “pawned vehicle” and refers to a car used as collateral for a loan. The bank may repossess the vehicle if you don’t repay the loan.
  • Rücknahmefahrzeug means “repossessed vehicle” and refers to a car that the bank has returned from a borrower who defaulted on a loan.

Authority Conflict Terms:

  • Fluchtfahrzeug: This translates to “escape vehicle” and refers to a car used in a crime to flee the scene.
  • Diebstahlfahrzeug: This means “stolen vehicle” and refers to a car taken without the owner’s permission.
  • Abschleppwagen: This translates to “tow truck” and refers to a vehicle used by authorities to remove illegally parked cars or those involved in an accident.
  • Dienstwagen: This means “service vehicle” and refers to a car used by police, fire departments, or other government agencies.
  • Beweismittel: “This” translates to “evidence”, and you could use it to refer to a vehicle involved in a crime scene investigation.
  • Unfallwagen: This means “accident car” and refers to a vehicle damaged in a collision.


  • Familiarize yourself with the specific import regulations of your destination country.
  • Consider using a reputable export service provider to handle the logistics.
  • Always get a written sales contract outlining the terms of the sale.
  • Double-check all paperwork before finalizing the export process.


Buying a car in Germany can be an exciting adventure. Still, it’s essential to understand the different German car buying and export terms in the glossary to ensure everything is clear. Knowing the terms is crucial whether you’re planning to purchase a car from a dealer or export one from Germany. By following the tips and advice outlined in this article, you can have a smooth and successful experience buying or exporting a car in Germany. Besides, you are not left in the darkness when car-buying terms in the glossary are used around you.

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