Private sales make up a large portion of used car sales in Australia. While popular, they are largely unregulated and there is limited protection if the car is found to be stolen or has problems.
Things to consider:
Things to do
Be aware that if a vehicle’s identifiers have been changed to conceal theft, these checks will not protect your purchase. There is no way to be 100 percent sure.
Visit the Queensland government's Fair Trading > Private car sales page for more precautionary tips.
Online car sales websites are becoming an increasingly popular way to buy and sell used cars. They act as a marketplace, bringing together buyers with private and commercial sellers from anywhere in Australia or the world.
When considering online purchasing you should take the same precautions as you would if you were buying from a private seller. Especially if you are looking overseas where Australian Consumer Law will not apply.
Visit the Queensland government's Fair Trading > Buying cars safely online page for more precautionary tips.
Dealer sales may be a bit more expensive but they are a good choice if you want the protection afforded by Queensland law.
A dealer will offer you protections such as a:
Deposits, contracts and paperwork
To purchase a vehicle from a dealer you will need to sign a legally binding contract of sale. Like any contract, you should read it carefully and understand it before you sign. When you do sign you will be required to pay a deposit.
Make sure you have read and received the following:
If the dealer has agreed to carry out repairs before the sale they should be listed in the contract. Repairs should be checked before taking delivery of the car. You should reconsider buying the car if the dealer will not include these additional clauses in the contract.
Problems with your purchase
When trying to resolve an issue always back up any communication by confirming in writing what has been agreed. Keep notes and records of all correspondence. This will be vital if the issue eventually needs a legal solution.
Brokers and wholesalers offer another alternative to motor dealers
Brokers locate new and used cars of the particular make and model specified by the buyer, usually through a network of licensed motor dealers.
Brokers charge a commission which can be up front or built into the price of the car.
The advantage here is that the broker does the 'legwork' and finds the appropriate vehicles. Great if you’re short on time.
Brokers, like motor dealers, are required to be licensed and operate under the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act . Where a broker sources a used vehicle from a dealer, it is the dealer who guarantees clear title and provides the statutory warranty.
Buying from a wholesaler does not guarantee you will pay wholesale price for your car. You could pay the same price as you would at a used car dealership.
When buying from a wholesaler you have the same rights and obligations, so you should take the same precautions as if you were buying through a normal used car dealership.
Buying a used car at auction can be cheaper than from a dealer, but it also carries greater risks. These include:
Some auction houses provide a condition report however these are generally not the result of a full mechanical inspection so it may not list all defects.
An auctioneer is bound by many of the same requirements as a motor dealer and has to guarantee clear title.
Tips for buying at auction
Damaged vehicle auctions
Vehicles that have been damaged and written-off by insurance companies are usually sold at auction. They fall into two categories:
For people with the knowledge and skill, buying and repairing a wrecked vehicle can be seen as a cheaper option. However repair costs often exceed the vehicle’s value so shortcuts and poor repairs are common.
These cars inevitably end up on the used car market. This is why an independent vehicle inspection and a PPSR check is a must for all used car purchases.
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.