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Safety in the Great Southern: Beware of used-car dealers selling unroadworthy vehicles

Steph MarshAlbany Advertiser
Steph Marsh is the senior regional officer for the Great Southern at the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety.
Camera IconSteph Marsh is the senior regional officer for the Great Southern at the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety. Credit: Supplied

There’s a lot to consider when buying a used car, such as your budget and what type of vehicle will suit your needs, but of utmost importance is ensuring you don’t drive away with a lemon.

We recently issued a warning against licensed car dealer Ventura Autos, after receiving 136 complaints about the selling of unroadworthy vehicles, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

During their compliance inspections of the Welshpool business, our automotive officers issued 43 defect notices on vehicles being sold for issues such as noncompliant tyres, windscreens, oil leaks and seatbelts.

When purchasing a vehicle, consumers rightly expect they will receive a car without any significant problems. That’s why we have released an easy-to-follow used car buyer’s checklist in partnership with the Motor Trade Association of WA.

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The checklist empowers buyers to know what to look out for when shopping around for a second-hand car and gives them the best chance at driving away with a safe and reliable vehicle.

At the top of the checklist is a $2 Personal Property Securities Register (or PPSR) check using the VIN number found in the owner’s manual to see if the car is free from debt, stolen or written off. There’s also advice to have the vehicle checked by an independent mechanic and inspect its log book for signs of regular servicing, any ongoing repairs and odometer readings.

In WA, 70 per cent of used-car buyers buy via private sale, but these purchases often don’t have the same protections as those vehicles bought from a dealer, which may offer some warranty protection depending on the age and mileage of the vehicle.

Private sales can also be a target for scammers, who offer nonexistent cars for sale on online marketplaces, websites and social media platforms. In the past three years, Consumer Protection has heard from 259 consumers who were scammed while trying to buy a car online, including 88 who lost more than $660,000.

This is why it’s vital for buyers to be vigilant when shopping online and not hand over their cash before seeing the vehicle in person and doing a series of checks.

If you’re on the hunt for a used car, consider downloading the new checklist now available on our website at www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/buyingacar to avoid being taken for a ride.

Steph Marsh is the senior regional officer for the Great Southern at the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety.

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