The laws and regulations governing motor vehicle sales

Being aware of the legal obligations of motor dealers and private sellers can help protect you as a buyer.

We have a range of resources to guide you including:


The contract of sale is a legally binding document.

  • Do not sign until you are sure the vehicle is right for you and you know you can afford it.
  • Make sure there are no unfavourable clauses in the contract. If you don't understand the contract then don't sign it
  • Make sure it specifies the trade-in amount or delivery date if applicable.
  • Add any specific requirements you may have around finance or delivery details.
  • Don’t sign an incomplete contract.
  • Always keep a copy of what you sign.

Cooling-off periods

  • When you buy a brand new car (that has never been registered) there is no cooling-off period .
  • A registered demonstration car is deemed to be a used vehicle, so a cooling off period applies.

Pre-delivery check for new vehicles

Do your own pre-delivery check on your vehicle. Ensure that it is exactly what you ordered.

If you specified a particular year of manufacture check:

  • The year on the build plate (the year the car was actually built) and contract match.
  • The date on the compliance plate (indicating when the car met Australian Safety Standards) and the contract matches.

Also check the accessories or extras you ordered have been fitted.

It would also be wise to check that the:

  • Paintwork has no chips and the body panels are not dented.
  • Interior has no cuts or scratches.

Know what laws govern motor dealers and auctioneers

The newly developed Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act 2014 will come into effect late in 2014. Until that time, the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 is still in effect. Visit the Office of Fair Trading for more information.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads provides information on regulations of safety certificates.

Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.