Fears flood-damaged vehicles will be dumped on WA market

This announcement is for: 
Business / companyConsumerMotor industry
  • Real concerns that defective vehicles from flood areas will be sold in WA
  • Potential buyers urged to find out the vehicle’s full history before purchase
  • A number of checks can be carried out to make an informed decision

WA consumers are being warned to be vigilant with fears that flood-damaged vehicles from the eastern states will be sold in WA.

Consumer Protection urges buyers of second-hand vehicles to question the seller about the history of the vehicle and to specifically ask if it has been damaged by floodwaters or is a write-off.

There are a number of checks that should be carried out that will reveal the vehicle’s history whether it is a car, truck, caravan, trailer, bus or motorcycle.

Executive Director for Consumer Protection Trish Blake is concerned that there is a real possibility some of these compromised vehicles will be dumped in the WA marketplace.

“Motor vehicle dealers and auctioneers in WA are not obliged to voluntarily reveal that the vehicle for sale has been affected by the recent floods in the eastern states, but they are obliged to tell the truth if specifically asked,” Ms Blake said.

“It would be a breach of the Australian Consumer Law if dealers and auctioneers failed to disclose the true history of the vehicle when asked, so buyers should interrogate them, especially while there is a danger of flood damaged vehicles being sold here. There are no legal protections for consumers involved in private sales, so this is an area of greater risk.

“Before purchasing, prospective buyers should have the vehicle checked by a qualified mechanic, inspect its log book and search the online registry of written-off vehicles using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) found under the bonnet.

“The seller should provide the licence papers to the purchaser, to confirm ownership and validity of the licence.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Trade Association of WA Stephen Moir said it’s estimated that as many as 20,000 vehicles have been damaged by the recent floods in south-eastern Queensland and northern NSW.

“Many of the vehicles could be sold to unsuspecting buyers in WA who may not realise there’s a problem until after the sale,” Mr Moir said.

“The vehicle’s electrical systems will definitely be affected if damaged by floodwaters and corrosion issues may emerge some time later. There may also be problems getting the vehicle registered in WA and insurance companies may refuse to offer any cover.

“So buyers need to do extra checks to make sure they know the full history of the vehicle before deciding to buy it. Buying through a licensed dealer will offer some warranty protection depending on the age and mileage of the vehicle.”

If a vehicle is deemed to be a ‘statutory’ write-off, it can’t be sold or registered and may only be used for spare parts. If a vehicle is deemed to be a ‘repairable’ write-off, it can only be registered and then sold once it is repaired and passes a safety inspection.

The Department of Transport in WA maintains a registry of written-off vehicles which can be checked by the public via the national Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR). There is a small $2 fee payable and there are many commercial websites that offer car history reports but usually charge a much higher fee.

More information about storm or flood damaged vehicles is available on the Consumer Protection website and enquiries can be made by email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54. Information about written-off vehicles is available on the Department of Transport website and enquiries can be made by calling 13 11 56.

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Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / alan.hynd@dmirs.wa.gov.au  

Consumer Protection
Media release
28 Apr 2022

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