If you are buying a vehicle from a dealer, new or not, you are guaranteed consumer warranty by the law. That means you can take the car back or get compensated for repairs if the vehicle turns out to have issues. However, if buying from a private seller, expect a whole different story. Under a private sale, your vehicle will have no warranty. But this doesn’t mean private car sales don’t happen. So what do you do if you want to buy privately? Read on to find out.
What to expect during a private car sale
- If the vehicle still has a manufacturer’s warranty remaining, that should get passed on to you.
- The vehicle should be roadworthy.
- The seller should describe the car accurately so that you know what you’re getting.
Your legal rights when things go wrong
Because the Australian Consumer Law does not cover private car sales, you have little rights when things go wrong. However, you have the right to legal action if:
- The seller lied when asked about certain details of the car.
- The seller gave incorrect information when describing or adverting the vehicle.
How to avoid getting short-changed
Say you want to buy a vehicle through a private sale because you have found a pretty good deal. There is no harm in that. So what should you do to avoid getting short-changed? Here are some helpful tips:
- For one, ask for proof to show that the seller has the legal right to sell the vehicle. Such proof could be the purchase documents, service receipts or a registration certificate.
- Ask questions. The seller is obliged by the law to answer all your questions truthfully. So ask them about the age of the vehicle, the manufacturer’s warranty, the vehicle’s service history, any problems that the vehicle may have at the moment, any history of accidents in the past, and more. This information will allow you to make an informed decision before purchase.
- Get a professional mechanic to evaluate the vehicle carefully. They are in a better position to spot faults than you. They can even take the vehicle for a drive to evaluate the vehicle’s performance better.
- Investigate. Take the vehicle’s VIN number and engine number to the police to have a search done. This should let you know if the vehicle is stolen or has any encumbrances around it. Also carry out a search with the Personal Property Security Register (PPSR) to ensure the car has no monies owed to it.
- Use caution. If something smells fishy, back away from the deal. For example, the seller tries to rush you on the deal, the seller insists on cash payment, the seller doesn’t want you to inspect the car before purchase, the seller is being inconsistent with their information, etc.
Another good idea is that after purchase; take the vehicle for a service just to make sure you don’t get any nasty surprises down the road.