What you need to know before buying a used car, motor cycle, caravan or boat.

On most used sale sites you can choose to search for vehicles from dealers or by private sale. Many purchasers believe they can get a better deal on a private sale than through a dealer, however there is more to consider than just the advertised price as duties and transfer fees are usually included in a dealer sale and never on a private sale. If you’re not extremely knowledgeable about vehicles, buying from a dealer might be a better option. Consider what you really need to know when buying from a private seller versus a dealer before making immediate decisions.

Private sales: prepare for the inspection

The vehicle may look great from the exterior, but what’s happening with the mechanics of it? Some of the most critical (and expensive to repair) parts are not clearly visible unless you know what to look for. A private seller is not necessarily going to disclose or even be aware of all the potential issues with the vehicle. Don’t know what an oil leak might look like or tested an electrical circuit before? Bring along someone who knows how to help you.

When you go to an inspection, make sure you take notes about the repairs you think the vehicle might need. Let the seller know that you are going to check the prices on these new parts and repairs, as that might help you in negotiating a lower price.

Safety and roadworthiness

Depending on your state or territory, some types of vehicles need to be issued with what is known as either a safety or roadworthy certificate. The certificate indicates that the vehicle has passed a minimum safety standard inspection that includes the operation of tyres, steering, brakes, suspension, lights, windscreen etc. It is not, however, a full mechanical inspection. If you are buying from a private seller, make sure you discuss the service history of the vehicle and ask to see the logbook and roadworthy certificate. If possible, have a mechanic check it over for you.


When you buy a vehicle through a licensed dealer, the vehicle will be usually covered by a statutory warranty which guarantees that certain defects found after purchase will be repaired free of charge within the warranty period. Dealerships may be able to offer additional warranties, which could be comforting if you are buying a used vehicle.

If you buy from a private seller

  • Arrange for a mechanic to inspect the vehicle and prepare a report
  • Test drive the vehicle at faster and slower speeds
  • Ask to see the roadworthy or safety certificate and logbook
  • Call the PPSR to see if money is owing on the vehicle or if it has been written off
  • Get a written receipt from the seller

Benefits of buying from a used car dealership

  • You usually receive a statutory warranty
  • A guaranteed title and comfort in knowing the vehicle will be free of any encumbrances or money owing
  • You can usually trade in your old vehicle at the same time
  • Financing options are readily available – or give us a call and we can help

Would you like assistance in finding a new car, motorcycle, caravan or boat? Acquired Financial Services offers a vehicle finding service that can save you time and potentially a lot of money.

1300 235 255
ACL# 488607
© 2022 Acquired Financial Services Pty. Ltd. ACN: 611 986 095.