BUYING A USED CAR 4 (page 1)

Before you Pay

It would be possible to see a car and give the owner/dealer the amount of money they are asking for. However, that would probably be foolish. There may be problems.

If you decide you want the car, here are some things you should do:

1. Negotiate the price. The seller usually asks for more than they want. The buyer usually offers less than they will pay.
2. Sign a conditional document.
3. Pay a small deposit.
4. Get a mechanical check.

If you are buying privately (not from a dealer and not from an auction)
5. Check the car ownership with REVS.
6. Ask to see the Registration Certificate of the car and the seller's ID. Check that the name of the seller is the same as the owner of the car..
7. Check the chassis or VIN number and the engine number. They should be the same as the ones on the Registration Certificate. A mechanic can help you to find these numbers.
8. Check that the car has a recent (within the last 28 days) Roadworthy Certificate. (Without this you can't legally drive the car and you will need to take it to a mechanic to get a Roadworthy Certificate and you will need to pay any repair costs to make it roadworthy).

REVS = Register of Encumbered Vehicles

A REVS check will tell you if the person you are buying from owns the car or if they owe money to a finance company. If they owe money and they don't pay it, the finance company may try to take the car from the new owner! So be careful.

For a REVS check you will need to give the REVS office the following: the car registration number, the chassis or VIN number and the engine number. A car workshop can help you to find these numbers on the car.

REVS in the various states.
For NSW, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland you can ring 1800 424 988. For WA contact WA REVS on 1300 304 024 or at
For Tasmania contact the Vehicle Securities Register on 1300 851 225 or at

You can get the car checked by your mechanic or you can get it checked by the motor club in your state. In NSW it is the NRMA, in Victoria it is the RACV, in Queensland it is the RACQ. The other states have something similar. These checks usually cost between $200 and $300 dollars.

When you pay a deposit, get a receipt from the seller. Ask them to sign a statement like the one below. It means that if you get the car checked by a mechanic and you find that there is something wrong with it, you can get all of your deposit back.* Before you buy the car, get it checked by a mechanic or an organisation that offers car checks (eg. RACQ, NRMA).


'This agreement is subject to the purchaser obtaining an inspection report from [fill in the name of the organisation that will check the car]. If the reported condition is not satisfactory to the purchaser, he/she may rescind the contract, and the deposit paid shall be refunded in full to the purchaser.'

* (Please note this is a normal procedure, but this website is not giving you qualified legal advice!)


Read the questions and select true or false.

true   false 1. A conditional agreement means you can get your money back if you are not happy after a mechanical check.   
true   false 2. It is normal to give a small deposit.   
true   false 3. It is very unusual to negotiate.   
true   false 4. You should check that the seller's ID has the same name as the Registration Certificate.   
true   false 5. The engine and VIN numbers should match the numbers on the Registration certificate.   
true   false 6. REVS tells you if the car is in good condition.   
true   false 7. A roadworthy certificate is not valid after 28 days.   
true   false 8. If a car doesn't have a Roadworthy Certificate, you will have to pay for one yourself.   

Score =
Correct answers: