Buying a second hand car in Estonia requires caution

The second hand or used car market in Estonia has plenty of dishonest sellers who are happy to sell you junk. The good news is that our Law of Obligations Act (available in English here among other Estonian laws: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/ ) provides protection especially in cases of consumer sales contracts (simply put - a private person buying from a car dealership and not from another private person) and consumer rights are also enforced by Estonian Consumer Board. It is still absolutely vital to be careful when buying a second hand as these legal remedies can be costly and time consuming to pursue.


As part of consumer protection the Consumer Board has published some tips to follow before buying a used car which can be found here in English:

https://www.tarbijakaitseamet.ee/en/consumer/buying-used-car .


The Estonian Road Administration has also published a comprehensive guide to buying a second hand car which is available only in Estonian here:

https://www.mnt.ee/et/soiduk/nouanded-kasutatud-soiduki-ostjale (use Google translate to get the message).

In very general everyone should at least do the following before buying a car:


  • Check the seller. You will find lots of information online and also check the “black list” of the Consumer Board;

  • Check the history of the car here: https://eteenindus.mnt.ee/public/soidukTaustakontroll.jsf . You can also check the history for any insurance cases involving the car;

  • Have the car checked by a professional. The rogue sellers are excellent at making the car look great on the outside so do not trust that;

  • Sign a written sales agreement and pay by bank transfer;

  • When in doubt, do not buy no matter how appealing the price might be.

If you blindly trust the seller you could find yourself at the door of an Estonian law office and the lawyer fees could be very big in proportion to the price of the car. As stated before, the Consumer Board can help by making a decision in favour of the buyer but that decision is not binding to the seller. They can also blacklist the seller but that does not seem to be an efficient remedy either. Going to court can be costly and time consuming. In addition to the legal costs you could face costs for additional inspections to prove the faults in the car etc so you really want to avoid all that.


Buying a new (used) car can be exciting but be reasonable and do not assume that everyone is honest. That could be a costly mistake.


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