Buying a new or used car is a considerable investment, and one that should not be taken lightly. This checklist has been prepared to guide you through the car buying process, and help you make the right decisions.
Remember that buying a car privately means "buyers beware". There is no warranty applicable, the car may have money owing on it or could even be stolen.
Check that the year given to you by the seller as the date of manufacture, is the same as the date stamped on the compliance/vehicle identification plates, usually found in the engine bay of the vehicle.
Compare the number plate details carefully with those stated on the licence papers.
Check that the chassis number/vehicle identification number (VIN) and engine number details on the plates in the engine bay, are the same as those on the licence registration papers.
Check that the car is licensed, and when the licence expires. Have the car mechanically inspected.
Check for any money that may be owing on the vehicle by calling REVS on 1300 30 40 24. You must have the vehicle registration number and chassis number/vehicle identification number (VIN) to make an inquiry.
A note of caution a WA REVS check may not show any moneys owing in the eastern states.
A REVS check will not show if a vehicle has been written off and rebuilt.
The seller does not have to provide a warranty.
Many of the major finance companies will not finance private purchases of motor vehicles for the above reasons.
Before signing a contract with a dealer · Unless you are prepared to purchase the car do not sign an "Offer to Purchase", "Contract to Buy a Motor Vehicle" or any other document as it can be legally binding. REMEMBER, THERE IS NO COOLING OFF PERIOD in W.A..
Make sure that any conditions the purchase is subject to are included as written conditions on the contract. This includes verbal promises made by the dealer about doing something to the car as part of the purchase. Any promises should be confirmed in writing on the contract.
All special conditions must be written out in full on the contract. You must be specific: e.g. "subject to mechanical report for XYZ Mechanics, that is satisfactory to the purchaser: or "subject to finance approval from the Perth branch of ABC Bank for a loan of $10,000, taken over 4 years with repayments of no more than $300 per month".
Make sure that any blank spaces or conditions on the contract which do not apply to your purchase are crossed out, initialed and dated by you and the dealer.
Check that you can afford the contract price and that it is within your budget.
Read and understand the terms and conditions of the contract thoroughly. If you do not understand something, get it clarified.
Make sure you are given a definite delivery date and include it on the contract. Having "as soon as possible", or leaving the delivery date blank on the contract, could mean a wait of several months.
Check the contract for clauses that allow for a revaluation of your trade-in if the deal isn't completed within a certain time, unless you have agreed to this.
Check the contract for clauses that allow for price rises to be passed on to you while you wait for delivery, unless you have agreed to this.
Ensure that the paint colour of the car and interior colour codes are correctly stated on the contract.
If the new car you are considering buying is in stock and able to be inspected check that the model number and the year given to you as the date of manufacture are the same as those stamped on the compliance/vehicle identification plates in the engine bay of the vehicle.
If the car has to be ordered make sure the correct year and model number are stated on the contract. Remember, some manufacturers bring out new models during the year, so it is important to include both.
Only licensed dealers are required to provide a statutory warranty on vehicles they sell. Most, but not all, used passenger cars sold by dealers have a warranty. For example where the cash price paid is $4,000 or less, no statutory warranty applies.
Certain types of used cars, eg. four-wheel drives and most commercial vehicles are not always required to be covered by warranty.
A statutory warranty cannot be waived unless an application has been made to, and approved by the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs at the Ministry of Fair Trading. These applications normally result because of a substantial discount offered by the dealer on the price of the car, in return for you buying it with no warranty.
A dealer must repair or make good all defects which make or are likely to make a vehicle unroadworthy or unserviceable. The repair should make the vehicle roadworthy and in a reasonable condition having regard to its age. For example, it may not be necessary to fit new parts to a 10 year old vehicle if serviceable second-hand parts are available.
A dealer can arrange for someone else to do warranty repairs. The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act does not specifically require you to return a vehicle to the selling dealer for warranty repairs, but the Ministry considers it reasonable to do so in the first instance.
If you don't do this and get the vehicle repaired elsewhere at your expense, the dealer may only have to pay what his or her costs would have been to repair the defects.
If you live reasonably close to the dealer and the vehicle can be driven, you should go and see the dealer. If the vehicle cannot be driven, the dealer should arrange and pay for the cost of towing the vehicle in for repairs.
If you don't live reasonably close to the dealer and require warranty repairs, the dealer has two options. One is to arrange for a repairer in your area to fix the vehicle; the other is to transport the vehicle to his or her premises for repairs and return it when fixed. Both of these options should be at no cost to you.
A dealer does not have to give you a loan car while fixing your vehicle under warranty. Some dealers however, make a commercial decision to supply loan cars to their customers.
The Fair Trading Act places certain obligations on a dealer when selling a vehicle. The dealer must provide a vehicle that has a clear title, matches any description which has been given and be of "merchantable quality", i.e. fit for the purpose which a vehicle of that nature is normally used. The price of a vehicle is also taken into account when determining merchantable quality.
If you buy a vehicle that is not covered by warranty under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, a dealer may still be responsible for some repairs under the Fair Trading Act.
For example, a vehicle may be considered not to be of merchantable quality if there is a major defect which prevents it from being used in the normal way, or makes it unsafe to drive (eg. faulty brakes, faulty steering, major structural rust).
It is important to note however, that the condition of merchantable quality does not apply if:
Defects are specifically drawn to your attention before the contract is made: or
You examine a vehicle for defects before the contract is made, and that examination should have identified certain faults
If you require further information about implied warranties or merchantable quality, contact the Ministry of Fair Trading.
The Ministry of Fair Trading provides a free telephone advisory service to consumers and business people on their rights and obligations under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act and fair trading legislation.