9 out of 10 used cars have a defect. Don't risk buying a lemon!
Except in a very few specific cases all Queensland registered vehicles must have a current Safety Certificate before they are offered for sale. Significant fines apply for failing to display a current Safety Certificate.
Safety Certificate inspections are only a basic check of things like the tyres, suspension, steering, brakes and lights. They are not intended to identify all defects so vehicles may have a valid Safety Certificate yet still have major mechanical issues. A Safety Certificate is not a substitute for an independent vehicle inspection.
In the case of a private sale the Safety Certificate is valid for a period of two months or 2,000km, while for motor dealers the Safety Certificate is valid for three months or 1,000km - whichever comes first. You should check that the certificate is valid, and has sufficient remaining life to complete the transaction before you commit to the purchase, as the transfer of registration cannot be completed without one.
It is the seller’s legal responsibility to provide the Safety Certificate and complete any roadworthiness related repairs required before the certificate can be issued. You should never be persuaded to get your own Safety Certificate as any necessary repairs will be at your cost.
In the case of an unregistered vehicle there is no legal requirement for the seller to provide a Safety Certificate however it is in your best interest to demand one.
All cars fitted with LPG require a Gas Certificate to be issued by a licensed gas fitter (in addition to the Safety Certificate). This involves an inspection to ensure the gas equipment is safe.
A vehicle’s registration cannot be transferred to a new owner without one. It is the seller’s responsibility to provide a valid Gas Certificate for registered vehicles. Licensed Gas fitters can be found in the yellow pages.
If you believe the used car you bought may have a suspect Safety Certificate, you must act quickly. Firstly, contact the Safety Certificate provider. If this does not resolve the issue contact your local Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) Transport Inspector or your nearest Transport Inspection Centre for further advice.
Phone 13 2380 for the location of your nearest Transport Inspector. The longer you drive the car, the less likely it is that DTMR will be able to help.
Do not have repairs carried out before DTMR sees the car. The Transport Inspector must see the faults before they are repaired if they are to take action.
Remember also that a complaint to DTMR will not get your car repaired. If DTMR finds that the Safety Certificate provider has erred, they may be fined or prosecuted, however it will be your responsibility as the vehicle’s owner to have it repaired and ultimately you may need to take your own legal action to recover any losses.
For legal advice regarding car purchase issues, RACQ members are encouraged to contact our Legal Advice service on 13 1905.