buying a used car

The Office of Fair Trading has warned consumers to beware of discrepancies between what they are promised by salespeople and what is stipulated in the contract.

A story was reported by a man who decided to buy a second-hand car at a dealership and was told by the salesman that a new car stereo would be installed at no extra cost.

The buyer signed the contract, which did not list the stereo as an extra, but was assured by the salesman that the stereo would be added to the contract later.

When he went to collect the car a few days later, he found that the stereo had not been installed as promised.  He was told that the salesman he had dealt with was unavailable and the dealership manager told him, that there were no extras listed in the contract and so he was not entitled to the free installation of the car stereo.

Verbal agreements can form part of a contract but are often impossible to prove. There are also other considerations to take into account when signing a contract to buy a motor vehicle.

If you buy a car privately, you are not entitled to the normal protection of:

 the cooling-off period,

 you will not get a statutory warranty,

 the seller is not obliged to give you a REVS certificate or Vcheck nor are they bound by the same laws and code of Conduct as licensed dealers, and

 you cannot access the compensation claim fund if anything goes wrong.

Buying from a licensed motor dealer can be more expensive than a private sale, but it is often safer. All motor dealers selling used cars in Queensland must be licensed.  Licensed motor dealers who sell cars privately may actually be breaking the law, and they must disclose to all intending buyers that they are licensed and provide a cooling-off period and statutory warranty.

When you buy a used car from a licensed dealer, you are entitled to:

 A one business day cooling-off period,

 A statutory warranty;

 A guarantee of clear title on the vehicle;

 Protection by the motor dealer’s Code of Conduct;

 Access to a claim fund which may compensate you if you have suffered a financial loss because of the motor dealer’s actions.

4 replies
  1. Jake
    Jake says:

    I was mislead online by a private seller using The guy added his car on to the website at $2500. So I agreed to come and take a look spending money to get a ppsr for the car then taking an hour drive to look at it and pay what he had the car advertised for. Once I arrived I drove the car and decided it was all good. I said I’d give him what he had advertised on line for the car and then he became reluctant and said his son would probably want the car. And refused to sell the car to me. Upset… I looked later to see if he still had the car advertised. He raised the price of the vehicle $700. He lied to me and then tried to rise the price on me once I arrived ready and willing out of my way to buy the car… do I have any legal standing here I spent money to check out the vehicle and then agreed to pay full price… I don’t think it is fair what he did.

    • McLaughlin & Associates
      McLaughlin & Associates says:

      Hi Jake,

      At the end of the day, given the amount of money involved, the hassle of trying to recoup your losses, the short answer is no. It all goes back to offer and acceptance. You made an offer to buy his car for the price he nominated however he did not accept your offer. The other lesson to take out of this is you don’t spend money on PPSR and the like until after you have struck an agreement but before you hand over the coin.

  2. Kyls
    Kyls says:

    Hi this is probably a little late but I bought a used car from a licensed dealership, which was extremely problematic from week one, and had repeated breakdowns. They made so many promises and mechanically guaranteed this car against any serious issues. Unfortunately there was a long list of issues; Some of which cannot be rectified despite repeated attempts to fix; and others which did not meet safety certification and proved hazardous. The dealership then reneged on the guarantee saying it was only for one week and that they were no longer accountable.

    Fair Trading who despite the amount of evidence i provided, seemed to only offer mediation. The fact is the car should never have passed roadworthy. I have since found 8 other victims of this car yard who bought cars with dangerous defects that should have been obvious during safety certification. All these cars have been purchased for around the $10 000 mark. Some met statutory warranty some didn’t but essentially the level of issues and safety defects found in these cars shows multiple major failures and obviously falls short of consumer guarantee.
    is there another course of action we can take? either singularly or as a group?


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