5 Helpful Tips When Buying a Car in Australia

Australia is a big and beautiful country with lots of areas to just marvel at and explore. Whether you’re a native or an expat, it’s a sure thing that you won’t truly be able to enjoy this country’s breathtaking beauty just by exploring its cities alone. No, you need the freedom and mobility to really go out and explore great outback to its fullest, and you’ll need to buy a car to take full advantage of this.

With that said, buying a car in Australia can be quite complicated, especially if it’s your first time buying one. While it may be reasonable to think that all you need to do is to go up to a reputable car dealership to seal the deal—such as a Mazda dealership Australia trusts—it involves a bit more than that. In fact, it can be quite the confusing ordeal, and may cause you quite a lot of stress in the long run if you’re not careful.

To help you avoid this, we’ve assembled a list of helpful tips that should help make the car buying process a lot easier.

Procure an Australian driving license. Foreigners are legally allowed to drive a car in Australia using their home country’s license for a period of three to six months. After this grace period, however, you are legally mandated by law to go out and get a bona fide Australian license.

Thankfully, this process is relatively easy and straightforward, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble with it. There are certain fees and tests that you’ll have to take, of course, but nothing too complicated or onerous.

With an official Australian driving license in your possession, buying a new or used car in Australia will be a much easier and stress-free affair. At the very least, it will help you cut through all the potential red tape and legal trouble that you’ll encounter when attempting to buy a vehicle without a license.

Use the Internet to shop around for the best car for your budget and needs. When buying a car, do you have a specific budget that you have to keep within the boundaries of? Or maybe you have specific needs that not just any car can fulfil. If so, then it’s a good idea to shop around online for the car that you want, instead of just relying on your local car dealerships.

By taking advantage of the Internet, your selection will be much more diverse, allowing you to find the right car that fits your exact needs. It also allows you to easily browse the used car market much more quickly than having to do the legwork yourself, which can be handy if you’re not prepared to buy a brand new car.

Research extensively into the car you’re looking to buy. Now that you’ve set your eyes upon a car that you want to purchase, it’s important not to rush headlong into buying it. Research as much as you can about the particular model first. If it’s a used car, then ask the seller as much about it as you can, from its current performance to the owner’s personal history with the car.

By doing this before putting money down, you’ll be aware of any potential issues with the vehicle that you would’ve missed if you bought it outright. This helps you avoid buying something that will only be a drain on your time and resources in trying to keep it roadworthy.

One particularly important thing you have to look out for is if the car’s registration and history is legit, in that it isn’t stolen or reported as written off. You can do this by either going to your local government’s website to do so—it should have a feature where you can look up a car’s registration and public record history. Do note that there is usually a fee involved here, but it’s better than having to deal with the costly consequences of inadvertently buying a fenced car.

Get all the paperwork straightened out. When it comes to buying a car, new or used, always ensure that all the relevant paperwork is sorted out. This means the car registration, or “rego” as it’s known in Australia, is transferred to you in a complete and legible form.

Also check with the seller if they’ve already lodged a “notice of dismissal” with your government’s Roads & Maritime Services department, or RMS. This notice essentially transfers the ownership of the car from the seller’s name to yours. This also involves you going to the RMS directly to pay a stamp tax, which completes the transfer of the vehicle to your name. Be sure to bring some cash with you during this, though, as the stamp tax constitutes about 3% of the price you paid for your new vehicle.

Get insurance. This is relatively straightforward—if you’re buying a vehicle, then you definitely need to buy insurance. Having comprehensive insurance is a legal requirement to owning a vehicle in Australia, as it covers any bodily injury that you may inflict upon another motorist in the event of an accident. Even if you’re a very careful driver, there’s really no telling what will happen. Besides staying on the right side of the law, it’s also good to have just in case the worst-case scenario comes up.

Getting a car in Australia is easier than you think

While the entire process of buying a car in Australia may seem daunting at first, or too complicated to even bother with, it really isn’t. By keeping the above listed tips in mind, you’ll be able to cover all of your bases relatively easily and without fail. Just remember to do your research and don’t leave anything up to chance, especially when legal paperwork and insurance is concerned.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.