A Guide to Buying a Car in Australia for a Foreign Tourist

Are you thinking about traveling in Australia and want to buy a car? Although buying a car in Australia is pretty easy, there are a few things to keep in mind before doing so. With the appropriate background information, you can save a lot of time, money, and possibly even avoid trouble. On how to buy a car in Australia, the following is a guide on buying a car in Australia for foreigners.

Choosing the right car

Before going on to purchase a car in Australia, you should definitely consider the type of vehicle that you want based on your tastes, travel needs and budget. If you are looking to head out to the Outback or on off-road trails like the Canning Stock Route, Gibb River Road, and the Gunbarrel Highway, for example, an off-road vehicle would be the right choice for you. If you plan to only drive on paved roads, then a van or saloon car will do.

Where to buy a car in Australia

Now that you know what you want, the easiest place to start your car search would be on the Internet – public Facebook groups, classifieds sites and Australian car sales websites. These platforms will also give you a glimpse into the general price range of the vehicle that you are looking for. Offline, make a car search at a car buying service.

What to look for when buying a car in Australia

If you have found a seller, it is important to carry out an evaluation of the vehicle, from registration validity to its roadworthiness. Firstly, if the vehicle is not registered, you are not by law allowed to drive it. That said, vehicle registration is valid for a maximum of 12 months and must be renewed annually.

The condition of the vehicle

When carrying out the initiation evaluation of the vehicle, first check the body for rust and paint damage, and look under the car to see if there is any oil leakage. The condition of the brake discs and pads, headlights, brake lights, tires, windshield wipers, exhaust system, and more should be checked, either by you, the prospective car buyer, if you happen to know a lot about cars, or hire a qualified and experienced mechanic.

Also ask for the service book and check for service frequency, the nature and extent of repairs, and oil-changes. Next should be the engine compartment. Do you see oil leaks? Are the liquids filled up, for example, cooling water, engine oil? What is the condition of the starter battery? All this should be taken into account, and having a checklist is ideal to avoid missing anything major. Mileage and any visible accident damage should also be noted.

If you are satisfied with what you see, request a test drive. While at it, pay attention to the handling, braking response, and the functionality of the headlamps and brake lights. Steering play and strange gear-change noises should also be a point of concern.

One thing you have to be aware of, however, is that even if the car is in mint condition you can always get some unexpected repairs shortly after buying, so include this in your budget.

The registration process

The transfer of ownership process is often relatively uncomplicated in Australia. On the Department of Transport website, you can find the forms that both parties, the buyer and seller, will have to complete. To fill in the form, you must provide an address. Can a tourist buy a car in Australia? Yes, you can specify the hostel, campsite or even a friend’s or relation’s residence, so long as you are staying with them.

The seller then sends the form to the responsible road traffic department, as does the buyer. The buyer must also send a copy of his passport. Depending on the state, you may have to personally pass by the Department of Transport office. The transfer of ownership also attracts a stamp duty surcharge. This will be between 3% and 6% of the purchase price. The purchase price must be noted on the form.

Depending on the state, a Certificate of Roadworthiness is required when re-registering a vehicle. For example, in Western Australia, you do not need a Roadworthy Certificate. This makes buying and selling easy and uncomplicated. But that also means that you have to look more closely for defects.

In some states, a Certificate of Roadworthiness is mandatory for a successful sale to occur. For the buyer, this is an advantage because the vehicle has been tested by a third party, and therefore fit to drive. However, this often leads to the price of vehicles in such territories being slightly higher, as costs related to the check are included. The costs for the rego depend on the vehicle type, dutiable value, and the state.