Prevent heartbreak buying a car
Buying a car is often the second biggest purchase in your life after a house. Knowing your rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and doing your research before you buy could save you thousands of dollars, not to mention heartbreak.
Always be aware that when you sign the contract you are entering into a legally enforceable agreement. With no cooling off period on car sales in Western Australia, some dealers will charge up to 15 per cent of a contract’s value if you cancel the sale.
But the dealer has to justify their calculation of damages and you should always question the charges if you feel they are unjust.
For example, if you are buying a car valued at $28,000 you could be out of pocket $4200 in pre-estimated liquidated damages.
Ask the dealer how long it took them to sell the vehicle after you pulled out of the sale. If it was the next day or within a week, it is highly unlikely that applying the full 15 per cent liquidated damages is appropriate.
During the last three financial years Consumer Protection received 119 complaints relating to dealers holding deposits of 15 per cent liquidated damages):
■ $28,501 liquidated damages held (from total deposits held of $82,428).
■ $18,101 redress was achieved for consumers (from total redress of $51,776).
Also keep in mind that buying a vehicle, whether it is online or at a showroom, can be a highly emotional experience and it is easy to be swayed by a shiny car and an experienced salesperson.
If promises are made about the car that has influenced your decision to buy it, ensure they are written into the contract, including details about a delivery deadline.
The car you buy must be of acceptable quality, fit for the purpose you explained to the salesperson, and must also match the description advertised. Remember you still have the right to a repair, replacement or refund if contract conditions are not met. To make sure the right vehicle at the right price is waiting for you at the end of your journey, use publications such as the Consumer Protection “Buying a car – a buyer’s checklist”, to become better informed before you buy a motor vehicle.
More information about buying a car is also available on the Consumer Protection website. Inquiries can be made by emailing email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
Knowing your rights and doing your research could save you thousands of dollars when buying a car. Picture: Getty