Buying a used car from a licensed motor car trader

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Benefits of buying from a licensed motor car trader

It sometimes costs more to buy a used car from a licensed motor car trader than from a private seller, but this option gives you greater protection under the law.

The benefits of buying through a licensed motor car trader may include a:

  • cooling-off period. For more information, view our Used car cooling-off period page
  • three-month/5,000 kilometre statutory warranty if your car is not more than 10 years old and has travelled less than 160,000 kilometres (this does not apply to commercial vehicles, motorcycles and vehicles bought by owners corporations, formerly body corporates)
  • clear title, which certifies that the vehicle is not listed as stolen or written off, and that money is not owed on it.

All licensed motor car traders are required by law to display a licensed motor car trader number. If you have any doubts about whether a trader is licensed, you can check the register of motor car traders with the Business Licensing Authority (BLA).

Notice of Particulars

This important notice should be displayed on the car’s rear side window. The notice gives details such as: 

  • its build date
  • the odometer reading
  • whether the car is on the written-off vehicles register
  • the car’s engine number or the serial number on its registration label
  • the car’s model designation (any words, letters or numbers specified by the manufacturer to identify a particular model series)
  • the year the car was first registered
  • the cash price (excluding statutory charges)
  • your rights under the Australian Consumer Law, if the car comes with a statutory warranty.

When you buy a used car, you must sign the notice and the trader must give you a copy.

Existing Defects Notice

This is a notice that lists a car’s existing faults, which the trader does not intend to repair. The notice must be displayed on the car. It also includes an estimate of those repair costs.

Remember, you will have to pay for the repair of defects listed in an Existing Defects Notice as they are not covered by a statutory warranty. If the notice contains a vague list of defects and does not explain specific problems, do not buy the car.

The dealer must also give you a copy of the notice when you buy a car. Sign it and keep a copy.

Be wary of vehicles displaying defect notices: if it was not cost-effective for the dealer to fix the problem, doing the repairs could be an expensive exercise for you.


Remain focused on the total cost of swapping your car for the one you are buying. A high trade-in price may appear attractive, but the price of the car you are buying may simply have been increased to cover the difference.

Also, try to keep your old car until the new one is ready for delivery.