Commissioner's Blog: New rules crack down on hiding a vehicle’s past

This announcement is for: 
ConsumerMotor industry

Used car buyers now have more confidence that the vehicles for sale from dealers are safe and reliable, with new regulations taking effect that help protect consumers from making a purchase they may later regret.

As of 7 June, motor vehicle dealers in Western Australia must disclose to prospective buyers whether a vehicle under 15 years old is a repairable write-off.

And there will be penalty of $2,000 coming to car dealers who fail to reveal whether they are selling written-off vehicles. They must declare this on a form that will be displayed in the window of every second-hand car they are selling.

A repairable write-off is deemed too costly for an insurer to repair but it may be repaired and re-registered subject to the vehicle passing specific safety and vehicle identification inspections. The vehicle must be assessed as roadworthy by an authorised assessor.

Even though a damaged vehicle can be repaired, it may mean there could be other unknown issues. Consumers may also struggle to get full insurance for a vehicle that has been written-off and discover it has a lower market value.

The new regulations help address the growing numbers of consumers who unknowingly purchase used cars that have been written off and repaired, with complaints to Consumer Protection tripling since 2020.

In 71 per cent of the 34 complaints made to Consumer Protection in 2023, the complainants alleged they were not advised that the vehicle they were purchasing was a repairable write off. In many of these cases, the complainants were explicitly told the vehicle had never been in a crash or written-off.

Any false or misleading statement or representation made on the form displayed in the car window may attract a fine of up to $5,000 under the Motor Vehicle Dealers legislation.

Every used car buyer has a right to know that the vehicle they have chosen is safe, reliable, and fit for purpose. The new regulations will mean consumers can make an informed choice and this will help improve consumer trust in the dealer industry.

These changes do not apply to private car sales. There’s a greater risk for buyers involved in private sales, compared to buying from a dealer.

We encourage consumers to continue to do a $2 Personal Properties Securities Register check on a second-hand car when buying privately.  In addition to revealing whether a vehicle under 15 years old is a repairable write-off – it will also confirm if it has been stolen and is free of outstanding debts.

Do this check at . Do not use other non-government websites that do the same check but for a much higher fee.

To further protect consumers, there is also Consumer Protection's easy-to-follow used car buyer’s checklist.

Consumer Protection
Media release
14 Jun 2024

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