Buying A Second-Hand Car

Many disputes arise from the purchase of second-hand cars, particularly from private sellers. In WA, buyers of second-hand cars in the private market have little protection. However, second-hand cars purchased through a dealership generally provide greater protection through consumer warranties.

The sale of cars in WA is regulated by the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act 1973 (MVDA). There are no laws in WA which protect buyers in the private market if they buy a second-hand lemon. There are also no cooling-off periods for the purchase of used cars in WA.

However, the MVDA is currently subject to review and the issue of “lemon laws” has been identified as part of that review.

Prior to buying a second-hand car it is prudent to engage a qualified mechanic to perform an inspection of the vehicle and to search the Personal Property Security Register (PPSR) with the car details. 

The PPSR search should show if the car has been used as security for a loan, reported as stolen or written off in an insurance claim. If the PPSR search shows that the car has been used as security for a loan, the security interest registered against the car should be discharged prior to the buyer making payment. If the buyer purchases the car without the security interests being discharged, the lender is entitled to repossess the car from the buyer.

It is important that the buyer checks that the identification number on the engine matches the number stated on the licence registration papers for the car.

The buyer should also be careful to determine the cost of licence duty for the car before buying the car.

Tim Hayter, Principal, Mid West Lawyers

This information is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought for your particular circumstances.