After one year of planning, thinking and dreaming this one day pretty much changed our lives and paved the road to our future. We spontaneously drove to Bavaria to look at a Sprinter, and now it is standing in front of our door, ready to be converted.
We still can´t believe it – we really purchased our Spinter!!
Within the last months we spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of vehicle would be the best for us and our project, and then we randomly found THE offer online: A Mercedes Benz Sprinter 316 CDI 4×4, and even the price was right. So we called the car salesman on Monday, he gave us additional information about the car and sent us an email with more pictures on Tuesday. So we called him again on Wednesday to make an appointment for Friday.
But there was one little catch – the sprinter was standing somewhere in Bavaria between Regensburg and Munich, about 800 km (500 miles) away from our hometown Hamburg. But we really wanted to take a look at the car, so we took a day off work, made some sandwiches, booked a hotel and started our journey on Thursday afternoon.
One thing we learned while doing some research on buying used cars is, that even in this digital age, you still pay a car (at least partly) in cash. On our way we stopped at our bank, so just in case we liked the car we would be able to make the purchase. Jan even checked with his bank if it is possible to pay larger amounts of money with our German EC-card, and it surely is, but the verification has to be via PIN and not signature. So no worries (that’s what we thought, more later) and we started our trip through Germany.
It was a long ride, after about 8 hours we were tired, but because we took turns driving we arrived quite relaxed at the hotel. We took a last look at our checklist for purchasing a used car we put together ourselves. It is the result of our research about what to check on before buying a used car, and then we were already asleep.
The alarm went off early because we wanted to be there at 8 am. I was so nervous; it was like taking a pop quiz knowing nothing. But we had our checklist we wanted to stick to, and this proved to be a good plan.
We drove through the Bavarian idyll, green hills to the right, yellow canola fields to the left, the sun was shining. And then we arrived at this small, friendly, motor sports liking auto shop. They had 3 different Sprinters at different prices, one was our future Sprinter! After 1-2 further questions we were able to tick off our checklist without any problems. The vehicle definitely has some small defects, as all used cars do, though.
The salesman and owner of the auto shop, Mr. Z., was speaking with a heavy Bavarian accent, and we really do like this, but it did not make the following conversation easier for us: We really liked the Sprinter and wanted to take it on a test drive. For this purpose, car dealers get these red license plates, but Mr. Z. did not have any there at that point. He told us about his cousin who borrowed the red license plates to test drive a car for his son in Cologne. Mr. Z.’s brother had red license plates, but he was not going to be back at the shop before later that day. Mr. Z. called a befriended car dealer, but he also did not have any red license plates. Well then?
In case we purchased the Sprinter, we would have to get temporary license plates anyways, these are valid for 5 days and with them we would be able to drive the Sprinter home to Hamburg. So Mr. Z. offered to refund the costs for the temporary license plates in case we would not like the car after the test drive.
This sure did sound odd, but we drove so far that it sure sounded good enough. So we went to the next vehicle registration center, submitted the papers and the so called eVB-number we got from our car insurance company beforehand (Attention! buying and registering a car in Germany; to register your car, you have to prove a valid car insurance, therefore you should request 2 eVB-numbers from your car insurance company before making the purchase: one is for the temporary 5-day registration of the car at the place of purchase and the second is for the final registration of the car at your hometown. We only got one eVB-number and it happened to be the final one. But fortunately Jan knew about the two numbers and we were able to get the second, well first, eVB-number in time for the temporary registration). The official was a little confused but we assured him that we really wanted to buy a car here in Bavaria and take it to Hamburg. He handed us the papers to have the temporary license plates printed and then Jan got the temporary car papers with his name!
Back at the auto shop we were finally able to take the Sprinter on a test drive – and we liked it. We stopped apart from the shop to take another look at the car to tick of the final points of our checklist. The decision was made, we wanted the Sprinter!
Actually, we already showed some big interest in the Sprinter only by driving so far just to look at it, so this was a small disadvantage for negotiating the price with Mr. Z. but it was already good from the start. After a short, but successful negotiation we signed the sales contract, all papers were ready, we paid about 2/3 of the price in cash and the rest should be paid with the EC-card, but it did not work?! How was that possible? We even checked with the bank beforehand and made sure the EC-device required PIN verification. After Mr. Z. called the EC-device-company and Jan checked with the bank, again, it seemed to be a problem with the EC-card – despite checking beforehand.
Mr. Z. offered us to pay the remaining amount by bank transfer from home. But in this case he could not hand over all of the documents, he would send us the vehicle registration certificate part II after receiving the money. But we preferred to have it all together, so we googled if there was bank close to this town and there was, so we drove to the bank, got the money and now paid it all in cash. Then, we finally got all the documents and the keys – unbelievable, but now we had our Sprinter!!
All of this took longer than we thought, it took 6 hours. Another tip from us when you’re buying a used car, take your time! So then we started our trip back home to Hamburg with our 2 cars, one of them our Sprinter. On our way to the autobahn, driving through all these small villages, the fuel gage was already blinking. We finally found a small gas station which made it quite difficult to maneuver with this big, new Sprinter. But we (well Jan, he was driving the Sprinter) took the challenge and mastered it!
After this exciting morning we granted ourselves a break and had some really good Bavarian food, Leberkäse with fried eggs and potatoes.
Now the journey back home was kind of tough because we could not take turns driving, each of us had to drive 800 km (490 miles) alone in one car. It got late and dark, we were tired and exhausted, but we listened to loud music and sang along to our favorite songs! We took numerous and long breaks, singing and some energy drinks kept us awake, but just before reaching home we were surprised by signs of traffic jam – at 00:30 at night? Yes, there was a complete closure of the A7 because of roadwork, 10 km of traffic jam. And even more on the alternative A1. We were happy this happened close to our home town because we knew another route off the Autobahn. Because of all the breaks and traffic jam, it took us almost 12 hours to get home, but we all arrived safely. Well, while parking the car, Jan drove into the hedge a little and now the Sprinter has some small scratches reminding us of our first adventure with our Sprinter.
This trip was exiting and exhausting, but we are happy to call this Sprinter our own. It is currently standing in our parking lot in front of our house – and we are ready to go!