Backpacker Vehicle Buyers Beware

 Welcome to Australia!

A dream of many is to travel to Australia and embark on an outback adventure. 

Ayres Rocks, Kanagroos and some of the most deadly animals await you here in the land of Oz.

Certainly, the idea of buying a vehicle to travel in across the country appeals to a lot of travellers. 

As many experienced travellers can tell you, being in a foreign country can put you at risk of being taken advantage of.

However, if you are looking into buying a vehicle in Australia we recommend you follow these tips to avoid buying a lemon.

Top 5 Tips for Buying a vehicle in Australia

  1. Do your research. Compare vehicles online to see where the market is. This will help you judge if your vehicle is overpriced or not.
  2. Know where you are going. Buy a vehicle that suits the road conditions. A 4WD is more appropriate for outback adventures than a sedan.
  3. Engage a fully qualified mechanic to do a Pre-Purchase Inspection on the vehicle PRIOR to buying the vehicle.
  4. Learn the laws when buying a vehicle. In Australia, each State/Territory has different local laws. 
  5. Google the reviews for the seller. Have other buyers had a good experience with this seller?

How to avoid buying a "Lemon"

We Australians refer to a car that is in poor condition as a “lemon”. Especially when you have paid good money for it.

A “Lemon” can be easily identified in some cases but it may take an expert to help you avoid buying into one.

A Pre-Purchase Inspection by a qualified mechanic will give you peace of mind that the car is what the seller says it is.

Knowledge is power. You will be saving yourself money if you can negotiate a repair with the seller before the sale occurs for instance. Perhaps even a discount on the sale price to compensate for the repair cost.

There are some visual checks you can complete yourself prior to paying for a Pre-Purchase Inspection.

  • Are the lights workings? Indicators, headlights and brake lights
  • Any warning lights on the dash? Engine light, service light or airbag light?
  • Check if the seatbelts frayed or the upholstery torn?
  • Are there any visible signs of rust in the body of the vehicle?

How to register a vehicle in Queensland

The Gold Coast in Queensland is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia.

Sandy beaches, great surf and theme parks for those thrill seekers. 

Queensland has the Great Barrier Reef among many other must see destinations. 

So, how do you register a vehicle in your name whilst adventuring through the sunshine state?

It depends on 2 different circumstances.

Firstly, if the vehicle is being sold with Queensland Registration then the buyer is legally obligated to supply you with a valid Safety Certificate. The Safety Certificate allows you to transfer the ownership into your name.

It also confirms that the vehicle has meet the minimum Safety standard set by the Queensland government. 

However, this does not mean that the vehicle is not a lemon. Never rely solely on a Safety Certificate when purchasing a vehicle. Always have a qualified mechanic completed a Pre-Purchase Inspection.

Secondly, the vehicle has no registration. Buying a vehicle with no registration can be a risk. The vehicle may have issues that do not pass the Roadworthy tests. 

Have a qualified mechanic that is also licensed to issue Safety Certificate inspections complete your Pre-Purchase Inspection.

This allows you to know what will pass/fail a Safety Certificate Inspection and what mechanically needs fixing.

Camper van

Here is a real life example of a bad situation turned around.

Tobias and Lena had arrived in Melbourne ready for their 6 week touring adventure. They brought a Mazda E2000 for AUD$3000 from a car yard.

They set off on their adventure travelling to Queensland approx. 2000kms away.

When they arrived in Queensland they were surprised when their newly purchased van did not pass the Safety Certificate Inspection.

The van had the following issues when inspected for a Safety Certificate.

  • Oil leaks
  • Diesel leaks
  • Rear shackles bushes
  • Tail lights discoloured and broken
  • No rear view mirror
  • Seatbelt frayed
  • Bald tyres
  • Ripped seat
  • Windscreen cracked
  • Coolant leaks
  • Handbrake not working

and the list just went on and on.

Tobias and Lena were advised that the vehicle was so far from unsafe.

The estimation of the repairs was well over $2000AUD. Keeping in mind these repairs only brought the vehicle to a roadworthy standard. Not mechanically sound.

The vehicle in its current state held a value of $500.

Therefore, they decided it was better to scrap the vehicle and start again.

Two weeks later they contacted the same workshop to conduct a Pre-Purchase on a Holden Jackaroo.  The seller was a fellow traveller who was on his way out of the country.

The Pre-Purchase Inspection  showed that there was a wheel bearing that needed to be replaced and oil leaks.

The pre-purchase saved them considerable money as the seller had to cover the costs of these repairs before the vehicle was sold.

They brought the Jackaroo and enjoyed their safe trip around Australia.

Remember these tips:

  •   Check what the actual value is for the vehicle
  •      Does it have a Safety Certificate?
  •     Have a Pre-Purchase Inspection completed before purchasing

Safe Travels…

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