Navigating the process of buying a car in Western Australia can seem overwhelming. Whether you're purchasing from a dealership, a private seller, or an auction, understanding the basics can make the experience less daunting.

In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about buying a car in WA.

Buying from a Dealership

Buying a car from a dealership in Perth or other WA locations often provides peace of mind. Dealerships are obliged by law, under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act 1973 and Australian Consumer Law, to provide certain information about the vehicles they're selling and guarantee clear title. This means there's no money owing on the vehicle.

However, buying from a dealership may be more costly than other options. It's always wise to shop around compare prices and options before settling on a decision.

Advantages Of Buying From A Dealership

  • Variety of Options: Dealerships usually have a wide range of vehicles in stock, which gives you the opportunity to test drive and compare different models in one location.
  • Warranty: In many cases, cars bought from dealerships come with some form of warranty. This provides a level of protection against any unforeseen issues with the car.
  • Finance Options: Dealerships often provide financing options, making it easier for buyers who might not have the full purchase price on hand.

Disadvantages Of Buying From A Dealership

  • Price Markups: Dealerships often have higher prices due to overhead costs, and they may also include additional fees. If you’re thinking of financing through the dealership, they may add additional fees on the loan
  • Sales Pressure: Dealerships operate on commission-based sales, which can sometimes result in high-pressure sales tactics.

Before approaching a dealership, do your research. Know what make and model you're interested in, understand its market value, and familiarise yourself with common dealership strategies. Don't be afraid to negotiate, and always read the fine print before signing any agreements.

Buying a Car from a Private Seller

Purchasing a car privately can be a cost-effective way to buy, but it comes with fewer safeguards. When buying a car privately in Western Australia, it's important to check for any outstanding loans on the vehicle. Conduct a search on the Personal Properties Securities Register to ensure it's not a stolen vehicle or has outstanding finance against it.

Consider getting a trusted mechanic to inspect the car before buying. If the vehicle still has a manufacturer’s warranty, ensure this is transferred into your name upon sale.

Advantages Of Buying From A Private Seller

  • Price Negotiability: Prices are often more negotiable in a private sale, which could result in a better deal.
  • No Overhead Costs: Private sellers don’t have the same overhead costs as a dealership, which can often mean lower prices.

Disadvantages Of Buying From A Private Seller

  • No Warranty: Private sellers rarely offer any form of warranty. This means the car is sold "as is," and any issues that arise after purchase will be your responsibility.
  • Vehicle History: While some private sellers will provide full disclosure, it can sometimes be difficult to get a complete history of the vehicle.

Buying from an Auction

Buying a car from an auction in WA can lead to a bargain, but it's essential to understand the auctioneer's conditions. If the auctioneer has a motor dealer licence, a statutory warranty may apply. Make sure to verify this before making a purchase.

Warranties - Including Statutory and Extended

Dealers are required to provide statutory warranties on most vehicles sold in WA. If a used passenger car is sold for $4000 or more, and is not older than 12 years with less than 180,000km at the time of sale, a warranty is typically provided. For specifics on warranty durations and coverage, it's best to consult the dealer or the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

An extended warranty may be offered by the dealer at an additional cost, which can provide further coverage once the statutory warranty period has expired.

Searching for Cars Online

When looking to buy a second-hand car in Perth, or anywhere in WA, online platforms like Only Cars can be beneficial. Many websites offer a vast array of options, from dealerships to private sellers. Always remember to verify the authenticity of the listings and do your due diligence before proceeding with any purchase.

An online car sales platform like Only Cars also provides a lot of convenience for buyers. You can quickly browse listings throughout the state and compare prices on the cars you’re interested in. This can end up saving you a lot of time in your search for a car.

Fees and Charges Involved in Buying a Car in WA

Several fees and charges are involved when buying a car in WA. A transfer fee is necessary when transferring a vehicle licence. A Vehicle Licence Duty, based on the vehicle's dutiable value, is also applicable, unless an exemption or concession applies. Use RevenueWA’s Vehicle Duty Calculator to find out how much you may need to pay.

How to Check Vehicle History

The vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate number are essential when checking a car's history. These numbers allow you to search various databases for previous accidents, damage and recalls. It's always a good idea to ask for these details when you're buying a car.

Laws on Buying a Car in WA

Western Australia has specific laws for car buying under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act 1973 and the Australian Consumer Law. They stipulate requirements for dealerships, obligations concerning clear title, and provisions for statutory.

You should also be aware of the following when buying a car in Western Australia (whether from a dealership or privately) –

  • A contract is a legally binding agreement made between two or more parties.
  • Licensed motor vehicle dealers in Western Australia are legally required to use written contracts when selling vehicles, which include certain prescribed terms and conditions.
  • Before signing a contract, buyers should:
    • A contract is a legally binding agreement made between two or more parties.
    • Licensed motor vehicle dealers in Western Australia are legally required to use written contracts when selling vehicles, which include certain prescribed terms and conditions.
  • Before signing a contract, buyers should:
    • Read the entire contract carefully, including the fine print.
    • Avoid rushing to sign anything immediately.
    • Seek legal advice if any part of the contract is unclear.
    • Confirm that all details in the contract, including figures and other information, are correct.
    • Ensure all verbal promises made by the salesperson are documented in the contract.
  • If a vehicle inspection is desired, note in the contract that the purchase is contingent upon a satisfactory inspection report.
  • There is no cooling-off period for vehicle purchases in Western Australia.
  • Besides manufacturer or statutory warranties, the Australian Consumer Law may provide guarantees for purchased vehicles. These guarantees stipulate that sold cars must be fit for their intended purpose and of acceptable quality.
  • If a car proves to be unsafe or unfit for its intended purpose, the dealer or manufacturer is obligated to repair it.

In case of non-repairability, the buyer may be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle.

Other Resources

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Jordan Ballard

Jordan Ballard

Automotive Content Editor

Jordan is a car finance and automotive industry specialist at Only Cars. With over 20 years of experience with frontline and management roles in sales, finance and other areas, Jordan has an incredible understanding of the automotive industry. As Automotive Content Editor, Jordan loves sharing his passion for cars with the Only Cars audience.