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Buying your first car can be very exciting! It’s the taste of freedom as you cruise along grooving to your favourite tunes. When you’re buying a car, it’s really important to do your homework so you don’t end up with a dud. This page outlines some important things you can do to make sure you get a good car that’s reliable.
To get started, check out this video about things to look out for when buying a car:
It is always a good idea to test-drive a vehicle before you buy it. Some dealers won’t let you test drive a car if you’re under 25, so it’s good to check with them. If they do let you drive it, make sure you understand any agreement you sign. For example, many car dealerships will make you agree to pay for any damage that you cause while test-driving a car.
There are few things you should always do before you buy a second-hand or used car:
When you buy a used car, you don’t know if the previous owner still owes money on it. The law is very complicated and in some cases you could be caught up paying off someone else’s debt, even though you paid for the car yourself! The way to avoid this is to do a check on the PPSR register. This is a website where you put in the engine number and the system tells you if there is any money owing on the car. If there is, DON’T BUY IT. If the car has no money owing on it then you can get a PPRS certificate saying that the car is unencumbered.
You are only protected if you do a search on the day you buy the car or up to one day before.
To do a PPSR search on the car you are looking to buy, go to https://transact.ppsr.gov.au/ppsr/QuickVINSearch
You should also ask for a receipt. This is really important in case something goes wrong. Make sure that they receipt includes:
It’s also a good idea to get the owner to show you the registration papers and check that this matches his or her licence.
If you’re under 25 and you bought a second-hand car and you think the owner lied to you about its condition or whether it had finance owing, you can get free information and advice here.
If you bought a used car from a car dealer, you have 3 business days to change your mind about the car and get your money back. If you are still within the cooling off period, you should contact the dealership immediately.
If it’s after this period, you should get legal advice as soon as possible. If you’re under 25, you can get help here and if you’re over 25 you can contact Legal Aid ACT on 1300 654 314.
If you buy a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer may offer to arrange a loan for you (this is sometimes called ‘finance’). This means they will sell you the car and you will also pay the car off through them. Although this might seem very attractive, getting a loan through a dealership is often more expensive than other options (such as a loan from a bank or credit union). That’s why it’s a good idea to shop around to get finance.
Also, check out this video on things to look out for when getting a car loan
It is against the law for a dealer to put pressure on you to use their finance instead of going somewhere else, like a bank. If this happens, you should contact the ACT Office of Regulatory Services Fair Trading on (02) 6207 3000 or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on 1300 302 502.
To find out some important tips about budgeting for a car loan check out the ASIC MoneySmart website at: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/borrowing-and-credit/car-loan
A car dealer is not allowed to sell you a car if you are under 18. This means if you are under 18 you can only buy a car privately. It’s also against the law if a car dealer refuses to sell you a car because of your race, gender, sexuality, disability, marital status or pregnancy . It’s also against the law if a car dealer sexually harasses you while you are looking to buy a car.
If you are under 25 and this has happened to you, please click here so we can give you some advice about how to make a complaint If you are over 25, please contact Legal Aid ACT on 1300 654 314.
If you buy a car from a dealer, they usually have to give you a warranty for a certain period of time. A warranty means they will agree to repair any defects in the car so that it is in a reasonable condition. For example:
There are some things that warranties don’t cover. This includes:
If you’ve bought a used car from an individual (not a dealer), you don’t have the same protections in terms of warranties. If there are problems, it’s really important that you speak to a lawyer and get advice about it. If someone has lied to you about the condition of the car, you may be able to take legal action against them. If you are under 25 and you need advice, you can click here and we can give you free information and advice. If you are over 25, please contact Legal Aid ACT on 1300 654 314.
Before you drive a car, you have to make sure it’s registered. After you have bought a car, you have 14 days to get it registered or (if it is a second hand car) to transfer the registration into your name. You can register a car or transfer registration by going to https://www.canberraconnect.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/82/~/transferring-vehicle-registration-within-the-act)
It’s also important to make sure you have insurance on your car. This will cover you in case you damage someone else’s car while you’re driving, for example in an accident. For more information on getting insurance, check out our insurance page.
If you’re under 25 and have a question about buying a car that we haven’t answered here, please click here.
If you’re over 25, please contact Legal Aid ACT on 1300 654 314.
If you have a problem or a question, you can send it to us today and we can provide you with free advice, information and referrals to help solve your problem. Just click on the button below.Get help now