How to buy a car in Finland

Photo by Zan on Unsplash

Are you planning to buy your first car in Finland, but quite confused about what to buy, where to buy, or how to buy? I was also inexperienced in the beginning, but over the last couple of years, I was involved in buying 10+ cars for myself and for my friends. This article combines all my experience and will greatly help you with all the necessary information. Let’s get started…

Searching for cars:

The most popular Finnish car selling or buying sites are:

Some of the websites are in Finnish, but you can just translate the webpage. Here are some frequently used Finnish words related to cars to help you a bit more:

Auto — Car, Vaihtoauto — Used Car, Uudet auto — New Car, Hinta — Price, Merkki — Brand, Malli — Model, Vuosimalli — Year model, Porrasperä — Sedan, Maasturi — SUV, Vaihteisto — Transmission, Polttoaine — Fuel, CO2 päästot — CO2 Emission

Budget:

This is the first thing you need to consider. If you are going to buy a cheaper car and you have the ability to pay all the money at the same time, you can buy either from a private seller or from a car dealer. Here, car dealers mean buying from a showroom. But if you buy an expensive one or if you need to buy by installment, then you need to buy from a dealer. For the same car, the price of a dealer is always higher than a private seller. One good tip is, always try to negotiate the price and interest percentage.

Mileage and year:

Lower mileage and the newer model is always better. Mileage less than 100,000 km and cars from 2015 will be almost in a good shape as a new car. If you decide to buy a brand new car, then remember that the car price depreciates to almost 50% within the first three years.

Brand:

The price will vary a lot depending on the brand. For example, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Lexus is comparably expensive to buy and maintain and also has a good resale value. Some other good brands with lower maintenance costs and good resale values are — Toyota, Volkswagen, Skoda, Mazda, Honda. There are some popular and cheaper brands as well. If your budget is low then these brands are okay, but if you buy an expensive new car from here, then the resale value will not be that good, such as Citroen, Kia, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Seat, Dacia, Opel, Chevrolet, Fiat.

Tires:

In Finland, you need to have 2 sets of tires. Winter tires and summer tires. While buying a car, make sure that you have both sets of tires. Instead of winter tires, you can also use all-weather or friction tires (known as “kitkarenkaat" in Finnish). Remember, kitkarenkaat is not recommended to use in the summer especially on rainy days.

Engine Size:

For the smaller cars, an engine size up to 1.4 is fine enough. In general, a smaller engine means less fuel consumption. For a bit powerful car, 1.6 to 2.0 engines is quite good. For city drive, a smaller engine is better, and if you need to drive a lot on the highway then a bit bigger engine is better.

Fuel:

Fuel options are Petrol, Diesel, Hybrid, or Electric. The petrol price is slightly cheaper than Diesel. If you drive occasionally then a petrol car is better, but if you drive a lot let’s say 50–100 km per day, then Diesel will be a better option to save money annually. And if your budget is high and you think about the environment, surely you can go the Hybrid or Electric cars. The Finnish government is giving up to 2000 euro support to acquire a gas-powered, fully electric, rechargeable hybrid vehicle with carbon dioxide emissions of a maximum of 95 grams per kilometre. So, maybe you can check that as well. One important point to consider that, your vehicle tax depends on CO2 Emission or fuel. For a petrol car, vehicle tax is between 150–250 euros per year, for a Diesel car, it’s 600+ per year. For electric/hybrid, will be less than 140 euro per year. Trafi will send you the yearly vehicle tax to your home address.

Transmission:

Most of the cars are manual in Finland. But recently, the automatic transmission is getting huge popularity. My suggestion is, if you drive a lot (or need to break a lot), try to buy automatic transmission cars. It will save your left foot/leg from pressing the clutch again and again. An automatic car is more expensive than a manual car.

Yearly Inspection:

One very important thing to check when is the next Yearly Inspection, it’s called “Katsastus” in Finnish. The best deal will be if the Katsastus has been done recently, that means the car is in good condition and hopefully you can use that car reliably for the next year. There might be some other problem in the car even after katsastus, but just the probability is less. For 10+ years old car, the Katsastus needs to be done after every one year. For a less than 10 years old car, the Katsastus is valid for every 2 years.

Other things to check:

Remember to check the service book to see if the car has been serviced and maintained regularly. For the second-hand car along with other things, also remember to check the hand brake, window, AC, the heater is working properly, and if there is any scratch/dent/rust/oil leak in the car. A good suggestion is to check this in the day time and take someone experienced with you. Some people say that you get a better car from the dealer, but from my experience, I will say, it depends. Two cheap cars (under 2500 euros) I bought from dealers were not very good and also the dealer didn’t tell us about those problems.

Ownership:

While buying a car from a private seller, always remember to change the ownership. The car is not yours until you get the ownership. It needs to be done at https://www.traficom.fi/fi/

More details: https://www.traficom.fi/en/transport/road/buying-used-vehicle

Car Insurance:

It’s a must to have car insurance and you need to buy it within a week. You may check and negotiate prices from multiple companies eg Fennia, Lähitapiola, OP, etc. If you buy a car from a dealer, ask if they have any offer. Once I got a 50% insurance discount for the first year. The car insurance company will send the bill to your home address. Always keep the insurance paper and contact number of the insurance service in the car, so that in any problem, you can directly contact them 24/7.

Few more suggestions:

  • If you are a new driver, then a cheaper car is recommended as your first car. After 6 months or 1 year, if needed you can go for an expensive one.
  • While estimating your actual budget, you need to consider car price, vehicle tax, insurance cost, maintenance cost, fuel cost, interest percentage, 500 to 1000 euro minor repairing cost.
  • I would recommend doing a bank transfer while paying for the car as proof, although in some cases, the seller/dealer wants the cash.
  • You can check the car history in trafi by spending a few euros. There are also some professional services which provide full car checking service which might be a good option.

Last but not least, always drive safely. Do not drink and drive, do not talk on the phone while driving, and avoid speeding. Although Finland has very strict rules, still a lot of road accidents happen almost every day. It’s our collective duty to ensure road safety.

Hope you find this article very informative. Feel free to ask in the comment if you have any more questions. And share it with others if it is helpful for someone new in Finland.

Best of luck with your new car, cheers :)