Commissioner's Blog - Laws around car sales and repairs offered online
With Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll
People who sell cars on a regular basis need to hold a motor vehicle dealers licence. In fact the law says that if you sell more than four cars a year you may be asked to substantiate why you do not hold a dealers licence.
If it is purely for personal use and is not connected to running a de-facto business buying cars privately and then on-selling them privately is accepted but it may not make the vehicle seller exempt from the law, which applies to backyards as well as caryards.
We know that the increase in buying and selling in the online classifieds and social media space has given rise to unlicensed car dealing.
Consumer Protection is concerned about the standard and quality of the vehicles being sold by these unlicensed sellers.
Licensed car dealers provide ‘good title’ to the vehicle and are also required to provide a warranty on most used vehicles if they are less than 12 years old, have not travelled more than 180,000 kilometres and the price is more than $4,000.
Buying cars privately can be risky because there is no automatic recognition that the seller may in fact be a business, the vehicles are not offered with warranties and it can be very difficult to have faults addressed. In fact most buyers would assume they have bought the vehicle as it stands with no right of return.
If you are genuinely buying privately:
- Always have the vehicle inspected by a competent licensed mechanic before proceeding with the purchase.
- Check the Personal Properties Securities Register at: www.ppsr.gov.au, to see if the car has been previously written off, stolen or has money still owing on it.
- Check the vehicle licence and its expiry.
- Make sure the vehicle identification number (VIN), number plate, engine number, year of manufacture and the owner details match the licence papers.
Repairers must be licensed too
Anyone offering services to fix cars on Facebook ‘Buy, Swap and Sell’ pages, Gumtree etc. must have a repairers’ licence.
Bush mechanics, mobile mechanics or home-based repair businesses have to be licensed just like someone operating from a shop-front garage.
Unlicensed car dealers and/or repairers beware
Consumer Protection regularly takes legal action against people who are car-dealing or repairing without the required licence. Recently we secured a $10,000 fine against a Landsdale motor vehicle repairer for repairing cars without a licence. If you are in any doubt about whether you need a licence just give us a call and we will run through the issues for you.
- Check whether a motor vehicle repairer of dealer is licensed by doing a search on the Consumer Protection website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp/licencesearch
- For repairers look for the distinctive yellow and black sign with the tick of approval displayed at their premises.
- Unlicensed motor vehicle dealers or repairers can be reported by emailing email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.