We are getting close to having lived in Sonderborg for a year and about a month ago we decided it was about time we bought a car. I have previously lived in Copenhagen, Prague and London where a bike and public transport can easily cover your travel needs. In Sonderborg you can also make do with public transport. However, it does limit your range and for trips further afield it can be a bit of a puzzle to find the right connections.
We decided to take the plunge and buy a car. Here are some tips from our experience. Remember that in Denmark cars are taxed 180% which means a lot of people drive small cars or old cars. Also because of the weather the cars have a hard life. Roads are salted during much of the winter making rust a big problem unless the used car has been washed and treated properly.
Where to look
Bilbasen.dk is a very good place to start looking at cars. Most second hand dealers will put their cars on here. The search engine lets you search based on price, make/model, type, age, fuel economy and distance from you. You can mark cars as favourites and get notifications when their price is lowered or they get sold from under your nose. You can set up search agents that on a daily basis give you an update on new cars that match your criteria. Other sites in this industry that we didn’t use but could be useful are BilPriser and DBA where a lot of private people post their cars. Prices on these sites include purchase taxes but exclude delivery costs.
Buying from dealers vs. from private people
Prices at used car dealers are higher than if you buy from a private person but a used car dealer also has to give you 2 years “faults on purchase warranty” (reklamationsret) on issues that were present at the time of purchase. Many used car dealers also offer six months warranty on issues that arise after the purchase. Buying from a private party there are not these warranties and you buy “as seen”. However the car will be cheaper to purchase from a private person (in the range of DKK 5-15000 cheaper). I do not know much about cars so we opted for buying from a dealer.
Getting a second opinion
As I was new to buying a car and don’t have any friends who are mechanics I opted for a service called Used Car Test (brugtbilstest) by the Federation of Danish Motorists (FDM) on the car that we were most interested in. The test is thorough and checks all the vital parts of the car but also comes at a price of DKK 2200.
Price and costs
Keep in mind that there are more costs to having a car than the price tag in the window.
Delivery costs (leveringsomkostninger) about DKK 3500 are paid to the dealer and covers getting new license plates and making the paperwork.
Green Tax (Grønne afgifter) is the biannual cost of owning a car. It is based on the fuel economy or energy class of the car. The fuel economy is measured according to the EU standard. When you see cars on site like BilBasen you can see the energy class. Our car is a diesel in class A, which costs DKK 1330 every six months.
Insurance (forsikring) costs are based on the car type, your age and your experience. It’s required by law to have third party insurance (ansvarsforsikring) and optional to have comprehensive insurance (kaskoforsikring). We asked four companies for quotes and got prices ranging from DKK 8000 to DKK 13000 so it’s worth shopping around. There is an independent site where you can get some initial quotes from a couple of companies but do call them and explain your specific situation to get a definitive offer.
Vehicle inspection (Bilsyn) are done after the car is four years old. Then it has to get an inspection every other year. These are about DKK 500. Of course your car has to be in good nick to pass the inspection so there might be a bill from the mechanic to pay before you take it to inspection.
Winter tyres. If you are from a warmer climate you might not be aware of the difference between winter and summer tyres. There is no legal requirement to change over in Denmark but most people do and in Germany and other North European countries it is a legal requirement. An extra set of tyres costs from DKK 2500 (plus rims which are from DKK 2000).
BTW – none of the cars pictured in this post are from Denmark, I just thought they were cool.