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Buying a Car in Queensland

When buying a car in Queensland, there are a lot of things to think about. A vehicle that has not been properly maintained could cause an accident that results in personal injury or economic loss to you and/or others. It’s also possible that a car that is up for sale has been stolen or has a debt attached to it that you do not know about.

Sometimes purchasing a vehicle through a motor dealer or at an auction can be more expensive than purchasing one privately. However, motor dealers and auctioneers must carry out their work in accordance with the Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act 2014. This legislation requires them to provide buyers with certain assurances and opportunities that may save you money in the long run.

Buying a car through a used car dealer

When purchasing a vehicle through a motor dealer you are entitled to the following.

  • A test drive of the car;
  • A cooling off period of 1 business day;
  • A statutory warranty (for some vehicles); and
  • A guarantee that the title on the vehicle is clear.

Purchasing a vehicle from a motor dealer will also entitle you to access a claim fund. This means that you may be able to receive compensation if you suffer a loss due to the motor dealer’s actions.

Buying a car through an auctioneer

Purchasing a vehicle at an auction provides you with some, but not all, of the entitlements a purchaser has when purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer. You will not be entitled to test drive the car or to a cooling off period but for some vehicles you will be entitled to a statutory warranty. You will also be entitled to a guarantee that the title on the vehicle is clear. In addition, you are entitled to access to a claim fund that may compensate you if you suffer a loss related to your purchase. You are also entitled to a safety certificate, a receipt and a completed registration transfer application.

There is also certain information that must be disclosed at the beginning of the auction by the auctioneer. The auctioneer must announce whether the vehicle:

  • Has or does not have a statutory warranty;
  • Is a repairable write off. A vehicle that is a repairable write off must pass an inspection before it can be registered;
  • Is a statutory write off. Such a vehicle can never be registered.

Buying a car through a private seller

When purchasing through a private seller you are not entitled to a cooling off period, a statutory warranty or a clear title guarantee. In addition, you will not have access to a claim fund that may compensate you if you lose money due to the seller’s actions. For these reasons it is important to take extra care when purchasing a vehicle through a private seller to be sure that:

  • The vehicle belongs to the seller;
  • The title on the vehicle is clear, e.g. there is no finance owing on the car;
  • The vehicle is in fact what the seller says; and
  • The vehicle is going to be safe to drive.

Statutory warranties

There are two classes of statutory warranties in the context of the sale of motor vehicles. These are class A and class B statutory warranties. Both motor dealers and auctioneers selling motor vehicles are required to provide these statutory warranties.

A “class A” warranty is for vehicles which:

  1. Have an odometer reading of less than 160,000km on the day of sale; and
  2. Were made no more than 10 years before the day of sale.

This warranty will cover your car for three months or the first 5,000km, whichever comes first.

A “class B” warranty is for vehicles which have:

  1. An odometer reading of 160,000km; or
  2. A built date of more than 10 years before the day of its sale.

This warranty expires after 1 month or the first 1,000km, whichever comes first.

If a vehicle is being purchased for restoration and is more than 20 years old, e.g. a vintage car, a buyer can choose to waive the “class B” warranty.

Consumer guarantees

When you purchase any goods and services the law automatically gives you rights. The same applies when buying a car. Your consumer guarantee applies for a reasonable amount of time after your purchase. It applies regardless of other warranties and may apply if other warranties have run out. The amount of time that is considered to be reasonable will depend on the individual circumstances of purchase.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Kathryn Sampias

This article was written by Kathryn Sampias

Kathryn Sampias has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism. Kathryn was admitted to practice in 2005 and practised law for more than eight years, working both in private practice (mainly in defence litigation for professional indemnity disputes) and in the public service for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in enforcement.

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