Read more about Consumer guarantees for products
Drawbacks of buying from a dealer
It can be more difficult to find a range of low-cost vehicles to choose from at a dealership. If you are looking for a cheap car, you may have more options if you buy privately.
Buying from a dealer isn’t without any risks. While most car dealers have honest business practices, you should always do careful checks and be aware of potential problems before you buy.
Set yourself up for success
Know what to do and expect before you buy from a dealership.
Before you buy from a dealer
- Know what you want.
- Understand how much you want to spend before you go to the dealership.
- If you need car financing, try to get pre-approval for a loan with the lowest interest rates beforehand. It is often more expensive to get a loan through a car dealership.
While at the dealership
- Read the Consumer Information Notice (CIN) in the window of the car.
- Do basic checks and test drive the car.
- Get the car inspected by a mechanic or a vehicle inspection service. Some dealers will provide a mechanical inspection as part of the sale price — but it’s usually best to organise your own independent inspection.
Read more about Pre-purchase inspections and checks
During purchase at the dealership
- If you get a loan through a dealer, carefully consider any finance arrangements before you agree.
- Read the sales agreement or contract carefully.
- Carefully consider trade-in offers and the value of any add-ons, eg accessories and extended warranties.
- Save copies of your sales agreement, CIN, the original advert and any other documentation related to the sale.
Read more about Car sales agreements and warranties
Read more about Getting a loan for your car
What ‘acceptable quality’ means
Under the CGA, you can expect any vehicle you buy from a car dealer to be of an ‘acceptable quality’. Whether a car is of an ‘acceptable quality’ depends on whether a reasonable person would find the car acceptable given:
- the type of vehicle sold
- the price paid
- any information about the car, eg history, quality, condition, given by the dealer or in any advertisements
- the nature of the car dealer and how the car was sold
- any other relevant circumstances, eg how soon the car developed a problem after purchase.
So the ‘acceptable quality’ of a vehicle will depend on the particular car you buy and how the car dealer sells it to you.
Consumer Information Notice (CIN)
Dealers must display an accurate CIN on used vehicles. The CIN shows important information about the vehicle, including:
- vehicle details – the year first registered, make, model, vehicle identification number (VIN), chassis number, odometer reading, vehicle registration details and if it was imported
- if there is money owing on the car
- the dealer’s name, address and registration number
- the cash price – including GST, registration and licensing costs
- information about your consumer rights on the back of the card, including where to go if you have problems.
If a business sells used cars on the internet, they must have a link to the CIN on the same web page as the car is advertised. A CIN is not needed for new vehicles or private sales.
The dealer fills out the CIN and you and the dealer must sign it. Make sure the information checks out. Putting your signature on the CIN says you agree everything in it is correct.
Keep the CIN safe. If you have some problems with the vehicle later on, you will need it as evidence.