BE SAVVY BUYING YOUR NEXT CAR
Here at Consumer Protection’s Karratha office, the most common inquiries and complaints we’re taking from second-hand car buyers relate to warranties and guarantees.
Buying a car is usually a big deal.
You’re about to spend a significant amount of money.
When the vehicle is second-hand there are extra things to consider.
Your first stop might be to search online classifieds or second-hand car sales sites.
However, it is vital you are aware a private sale, where an individual car-owner sells their vehicle to you one-on-one, is not usually covered by consumer laws. This means there is no warranty and you will find it almost impossible to return the car if it turns out to be faulty.
To avoid buying a lemon, you should:
Have the vehicle inspected by a competent licensed mechanic before purchase.
Review the Personal Properties Securities Register at ppsr.gov.au, to see if the car has been previously written off, stolen or has any money owing on it.
Check the vehicle licence and its expiry date.
Make sure the vehicle identification number, number plate, engine number, year of manufacture and the owner details match the licence papers.
Verify a claim of “full service history” by seeing first-hand the stamped log book. People who sell second-hand cars on a regular basis in a business capacity need to hold a motor vehicle dealer’s licence in WA. This applies to backyards as well as car yards.
Consumer Protection regularly prosecutes unlicensed vehicle dealers whether they are home-based or operating from a business premises.
Despite our marketplace monitoring and legal actions, we know unlicensed car dealers are continuing to advertise online, for example, using social media, and we’re concerned about the standard and quality of vehicles being sold.
If you want to make sure you are protected by the law, you can check whether a motor vehicle dealer or repairer is licensed by using the Consumer Protection website commerce.wa.gov.au/cp/licencesearch.
Before signing on the dotted line to buy a car from a dealer, remember there is no cooling off period; once the contract is signed it is legally binding. Ask about the vehicle’s history before putting pen to paper and, where possible, sight evidence to confirm that information.
If applicable, inquire about any time remaining on the manufacturer’s warranty.
Always read the fine print and understand any contract clauses.
Never sign blank or incomplete forms.
A licensed car dealer must provide a warranty on most used vehicles if:
They are less than 12 years old.
They have not travelled more than 180,000km. The price is more than $4000. Apart from these specific warranties outlined in WA’s Motor Vehicles Dealers Act, in most cases consumer guarantees provided by the Australian Consumer Law will also apply, for significant issues even after these other warranty periods have expired. This means that if there is some kind of fault or failure, you should be able to seek a remedy under the ACL.
If you have a problem with a second-hand car you’ve bought, and you’re not sure about your rights, contact Consumer Protection by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1300 30 40 54.
You can also find further information on our website at commerce.wa.gov.au/consumerprotection/cars-boats-andmotorbikes.
Bush mechanics or mobile or home-based repairers need a licence. Licensed repairers usually display the distinctive yellow-and-black sign with the tick of approval.
If you see someone offering services to fix cars on Facebook Buy, Swap and Sell pages, Gumtree etc, ensure they have a repairers’ licence before allowing them to work on your car.
You can also report unlicensed car repairers in WA to Consumer Protection.