Guide to buying a used car in Bulgaria
This guide is to help you start looking for a car
Written and photos by Georgi Hristov, edited by Lina Jarad.
The obvious start would be looking online. In Bulgaria, we have two main sites for used cars:
The other obvious choice would be Olx.bg, which is Bulgaria’s site for classifieds but I am not going to cover it.
We are going to start with Mobile.bg. This is the website with the most choices. Everyone is trying to sell their car there. The website is pretty simple to navigate, with easy to select options and well-formed ads.
When I browse Mobile.bg for a car, I usually filter cars by price, starting from the most expensive to the cheapest. By default, the website will display the so-called TOP OFERTA ads, VIP ads and after the VIP ads, you will see the rest of the cars.
I have owned 4 cars and all of them were bought from mobile.bg, but none of them were of the TOP OFERTA ads. I tend to skip the TOP OFERTA ads and directly go to the ads posted by a previous owner looking to sell their car.
I am on my 5th car now and my personal advice is to think hard before choosing a car from a used car dealership. Mobile.bg is full of cars with unknown history and most of them are sold by a used car dealership. Frequent users of Mobile.bg will tell you that almost all car ads posted by a used car dealership will contain the same info for each car.
The most used sentences are:
- This car has been driven by a 70-year-old lady from Milan, Italy
- This car has been in the garage until the old guy sold it
- I bought this car directly from Mercedes Germany
- 100% real kilometers
- This car is practically new
Here is a screenshot I took when randomly browsing upon writing this article:
For those of you who have been to Milan, you can certainly attest to the state of cars there either being dented, crashed or have some kind of an outside flaw. So when someone tries to sell me a car from Milano, claiming they had not fixed anything on the car, I know they might be lying.
Used car dealerships will often offer you leases. Unless you are desperate to own a car for whatever reason, I suggest you ignore this option.
I mentioned above that 4 of my cars were bought on Mobile.bg I will usually choose a car from a previous owner, who decided to move on of this car and is selling it. Again exercise caution when buying a used car, but my safest bet is from a real person - a previous owner.
Now, we can move on to the other website Cars.bg. I like this website more, but the options there are limited. Not many people post their car ad on this site, but some of them will post it only on Cars.bg rather than Mobile.bg, so if you want a little more options, you should check both sites. Again my rules apply for Cars.bg.
Visiting used car dealerships without consulting the web is a mistake! You should avoid buying a car this way. I understand a lot of people still do it, but it's a mistake, and here's an anecdote explaining why:
I have a friend, who was looking for a used Peugeot 206CC because it's a small cheap cabrio. He didn't want to bother looking at the prices online, because the car is so cheap, that 100 - 200 leva did not matter for him. He went to the most famous used car dealership area - Горубляне. He liked a nice-looking black 206CC with nice big rims and no visible outside flaws. He test drove, took the roof up and down several times, and bought it for the price the dealership put on the car. I was the person who visited Mobile.bg and found his car ad and guess what, the car price on the ad was 700 leva lower than what they put on the actual car. So in this case it wasn't even a matter of 100 - 200 leva. Always check online before visiting a used car dealership in person.
I can recommend some dealerships that friends and family used and are happy with the cars they bought from there:
- Bomiauto - Again it really depends on your technical knowledge and the car you will choose, but I have friends who bought a car here and it turned out it's an okay car. The internet reviews are mixed though.
- Auto 234 - My brother bought a car from here a while ago. The owner is personally there selling the cars sometimes. If he is there you are in luck as he might even recommend a car for you.
The safest bet and unfortunately the most expensive are official dealerships. By this, I mean the official dealerships of the major brands that have their own OCCASION pages (for used cars). The cars from there are tested, repaired, and often ready to drive. The prices are higher, but you are buying peace of mind and security.
Here are the dealers with the most offers:
- Peugeot Occasion - This occasion is not limited to Peugeot cars. They have a lot of brands and all the cars are tested and fixed before being put for sale. How a Toyota turned up at the Peugeot occasion? Well the owner of the Toyota liked a model from Peugeot, he exchanged his Toyota for a new Peugeot and now his Toyota is being sold there. This is called a buyback.
- Renault Selection - Again not limited to Renault cars only. The same rules apply for this one too, but you can also see cars that Renault Bulgaria decided to buy from other Renault dealers around Europe. I know this because I was looking for a Renault Captur 2015 and the dealership explained they have 2 Capturs import from Renault Italy.
So let's say, you chose your car, you gave the money, now what? Now comes the documents part and this I would call the annoying part.
To register your car in your name, you need:
- An official request for registration - Issued directly at КАТ
- Valid Гражданска Отговорност insurance. This can be issued at any insurance office - prices vary depending on the car.
- Paid ЕКО tax - can be paid at insurance.
- Lots of patience when going to КАТ
More info can be found here. I wish you good luck in choosing a new used car.