Commissioner's blog: Tips to buy a used car privately

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If you’re gearing up to buy a used car, you might be thinking about whether to go through a private seller rather than a licensed dealership.

While buying a vehicle privately can be cheaper, it also offers less security, so it’s important to know what steps to take to avoid ending up with a lemon or being scammed out of your money altogether.

Consumer Protection has published a new video covering the various things to bear in mind, including how vehicles purchased through private sellers are not covered by a statutory warranty, meaning it’s a good idea to have it inspected at your own cost prior to purchase.

Depending on the age of the vehicle, you may also be entitled to any remaining period of the manufacturer’s warranty, or any extended warranty that was purchased with the vehicle. Be sure to confirm whether any warranty remains and, if so, arrange with the seller to have it transferred where possible.  

Although the Australian Consumer Law provides guarantees as to clear title, undisturbed possession and undisclosed securities, you should still carry out a search of the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) to ensure that the vehicle is not stolen, does not have money owing on it or is not a write-off. 

When inspecting the vehicle, check the following information:

  • date and year of manufacture is the same as the date on the vehicle identification plate;
  • the number plate matches that stated on the licence papers;
  • date and year of manufacture is the same as the date on the vehicle identification plate;
  • the vehicle identification number or chassis number in the engine bay matches that stated on the licence registration papers;
  • the vehicle is licensed, and when the licence expires;
  • proof that the person selling the car is the owner, i.e. they have the vehicle licence papers, a sales receipt or driver's licence to help identify who they are.

A price and a method of payment needs to be agreed upon between yourself and the seller, and only proceed if you are completely happy with the purchase.

The video can be viewed on Consumer Protection’s website:

Gary Newcombe city 1
Gary Newcombe city 1, by CP Media

Gary Newcombe

Commissioner for Consumer Protection


Consumer Protection
Media release
28 Oct 2021

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