Buying a second hand car in AustraliaIt is a well known fact, that as soon as you purchase a new car and once it leaves the show room, the value has already dropped substantially. Buying a second hand car can potentially save you a great deal of money, but there are a few things that you need to be careful of, so you don’t end up with a lemon.

Has someone taken a loan against the car?

The first thing you need to check is whether there is any money owing against the car. You can do this online by searching the online database provided by the government. It is called the Personal Property Securities Register, or PPSR. You need to know the car’s vehicle identification number or VIN. The VIN number is 17 digits long and can contain the numbers 0-9 and uppercase letters A-Z, excluding the letters I, O and Q, to avoid any confusion, with similar looking letters.

Check out the owner

Make sure the owner is who they say they are, ask to seem some identification like their driver’s license or passport. Check the car’s registration certificate and cross-check that with the car’s VIN number. Check also the car’s safety report.

Odometer tampering

Odometer tampering is where fraudsters attempt to ‘wind back’ the odometer. It is a crime in Australia to tamper with the odometer, but there will always be unscrupulous people who will do anything to make a little more cash. As digital odometers become more common, it can be difficult to detect. Ask to see the car’s service log book, where odometer readings should be written down.

Written off vehicles

Australia keeps a database of cars that have been ‘written-off’. Written off cars are those that are so damaged they cannot be fully repaired and only good for parts. Some fraudsters will attempt to rebuild badly damaged cars using parts from stolen cars, so obviously they should be avoided. You can also check this using the Personal Property Securities Register.


All cars in Australia are required to be registered. Registration is handled by state governments. In Victoria, for example the department is “VicRoads”. If the car has registration remaining, you will need it to transfer it to your name, usually within 14 days of the sale.

Check the mechanical condition

If you don’t know about the mechanical side of cars, it is a good idea to get a qualified mechanic to look over the car. The outside condition is just part of the story. Motoring organisations such as RACV in Victoria provide this service.

Certified pre-owned

Some car manufacturers offer a ‘certified pre-owned’ (CPO) program. The second hand cars undergo a rigorous inspection and repair process. They are then usually then sold with a warranty from the manufacturer. They cost a little more money, but they are the second best thing to buying a brand new car.

Buying a car from a dealership

Buying a car from a dealership can offer a little more security than buying it privately, especially if you go to a reputable dealership. Dealers are required to make the various checks on the car, saving you a bit of time and hassle.

Be sure to shop around and look at as many cars as possible. If you stick to just a few makes and models, you will start to get a good idea of what is a good or bad deal.

Happy motoring!