We asked William Gardner, manager at Eden Auto Renault in Tonneins for an insight into buying or selling a car in France.
“After 40 years in France I know that the main rule” he says, “is not to assume that French law is the same as the law elsewhere and, in particular, England.
“For instance, if you sell a car here privately, you can still be held responsible for it long after the sale. You may have completed the deal at the time but, months later, it can be back in your rear view mirror, haunting you.
William adds “One chap I know sold a car on a famous website then received a letter from the purchaser’s huissier de justice saying that the car needed a new engine and, as the previous owner, he had the choice of buying the car back or going to Court. He wrote a cheque!” This is classified as vice caché where, even if you don’t know about it at the time of sale, a hidden problem has to be rectified.”
William Gardner, Eden Auto Renault
So, when buying or selling a car in France, if your knowledge of the French language and legislation isn’t up to speed, how do you avoid trouble on the road ahead?
“You don’t have to worry about any of the post-sale/purchase issues with a dealership”, William explains. “Yes, you may receive slightly less for your part exchange but there are no comebacks and, best of all, there’s peace of mind. In addition there should be an ongoing, secure relationship with the dealer that goes beyond handing over the keys, and takes you through servicing and even assistance with problems after guarantee periods. For instance, depending on the circumstances, it has been known for loyal Renault customers to receive up to 60% assistance for a replacement part after the original warranty has expired.
“Lifestyle also plays a huge part in your choice of car. Rural public transport may not be frequent and school buses aren’t always convenient. Teenage friends are often spread over a wide area and you may become your children’s “social taxi”, or transporting four or five children to/from school during the week. Similarly, with a bigger plot of land or a house move, don’t under estimate the importance of a trailer for those unavoidable trips to the décheterrie. If you need to transport anything over 750kg, you will need a special licence.”
William summarises, “The ability to trust is key to avoiding bumps along the road of buying or selling a car in France. Guarantees can be given and extended, assurances obtained but, at the end of the day, sound advice, an understanding of your needs and a willingness to help, over the long term, if problems arise add up to not only an honest relationship but, also, excellent customer service. That’s something you have every right to expect whether it’s for spare parts, after sales or new and second hand cars”.
William explains that there are several ways to buy a car.
Armed with a valid ID, your driving licence and an EDF or phone bill that is less than three months old, you can choose any of four purchase methods:
First published in the October and November 2020 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Eden Auto Renault