Newspaper Bargains To Be Re-Classified

I have recently been investigating the sale of second-hand cars in Moscow. I had earlier found Iz Ruk V Ruki to be the most helpful classified newspaper for finding high-quality Russian and foreign-made cars in the city. Two years of driving have forced me to change my mind.

After several days of closely studying this newspaper and numerous phone calls, I realized that, for many reasons, I should not have recommended this newspaper to foreigners without first having made some suggestions.

The main problem for foreigners lies in its specialized language, which can easily confuse those inexperienced in Moscow's auto trade.

For example, you may see the car model you are seeking, with a price tag 20 percent lower than anywhere else. The advertisement says the custom taxes were paid in Kaliningrad, the car registered there and it is being sold through a doverennost, a notarized document giving full rights to the use of the vehicle to a person other than its registered owner. Some unsuspecting person might buy such car and be in for a headache after a few months: If your car is registered in Kaliningrad, you have to obtain a so-called "temporary" registration in Moscow and renew it annually. And you cannot re-register the car in your name without having driven it in Kaliningrad.

Some advertisements only list pager numbers instead of phone numbers. I have found it very dangerous to contact such people. Most do not actually own the car but are selling it through a doverennost. This makes it exceedingly difficult to determine if the car is "clean" -- or not stolen. And if your car gives you problems, you will not be able to trace the seller.

Sometimes the ad might read "needs some repair." Don't even consider it. While such a car may be cheaper, these "repairs" usually mean it needs serious reconstruction and will cost you dearly.

You may find an ad for a low-priced car with the word "urgent" tagged on to it. However, the ad will only be published a week or more after submission, and if the person needs to sell the car "urgently," he will do it by other means. Most of these are likely to have been stolen from somewhere in Russia, and after a month you will learn more than you wanted to know about the workings of the Russian police.

As I discover more secrets about the world of auto sales, I will keep you posted.