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What Should I Consider if I Buy a Car Interstate?

In the overwhelming majority of cases, we’re comfortable purchasing a car that we can drive away on the spot. There are undoubted benefits as far as convenience, negotiating power, cost savings and dealing with any issues. However, sometimes a deal may come along that is too hard to pass up. You look closely, but you realise the seller is interstate. What are your options? Is it worth the hassle, or should you consider refocusing your search on something closer to home? Let’s take a look.



Inspection arrangements are more complex

Most car buyers appreciate the peace of mind that comes with inspecting a car in person. The complication of being in a different state however, is obvious enough. If you’re not prepared to head over and inspect the vehicle, then your options are limited. You are also taking a large risk. Avoid this, no matter the cost savings. You may consider the option of engaging a friend, buying agent, or arranging for a third-party inspection service.

Arranging transport is costly

It’s no secret that our capital cities are very far apart. So as far as transporting a car from interstate goes, your expenses are going to add up very quickly. There are dedicated freight companies who can collect and deliver the car, however this service is not cheap. Make sure you obtain several quotes. If you arrange to head interstate and drive the car back, you will need to budget for flight expenses, fuel as well as considerable time and possibly even accommodation. These days you may also engage a third-party driver to courier the car, although this doesn’t always sit comfortably with some car buyers.



Conduct appropriate background checks

Before you pull the trigger and purchase an interstate car, make sure you review the national PPSR registry and records with the roads authority in the state where it is located. You will want to ensure the car is not stolen, written-off or under finance, as well as review its general sales and odometer history. You will need the vehicle identification number (VIN) before you start. Don’t rely on the seller. It’s important that you see this for yourself, or have a trusted contact who can verify the car’s VIN in person.


Registration and insurance processes are different

If the car is already registered, you will not be able to transfer it directly from the existing owner in one state, to your name and address in a different state. Therefore, sellers usually cancel local registration. However, there is a 14 day window after a change in ownership in which any interstate registration must be transferred over if it is not cancelled. If the registration is cancelled, or it is a new car that is unregistered, you may apply for a temporary unregistered vehicle permit to drive the vehicle home. Keep in mind, once you try to register the vehicle in your home state, it must be certified as roadworthy. Each state has different standards regarding this. Insurance matters also differ by state, so it not only pays to check with the relevant roads authority, but your insurer as well.

One comment

  1. Ross Kroger says:

    I have purchased three vehicles interstate (2 Sydney, 1 Qld) in the last 4 years, I am in Geelong. Plus flying to Sydney to inspect a private sale that was not good!

    My rules are buy a car from a dealer that has a statutory 3 month warranty – my SS V8 VE ute was $5,000 cheaper at Tweed Heads Holden dealership than one in Victoria.

    I do the deal with a deposit pending inspection and have not been let down. Unless you have an address in the state of purchase the seller must remove the number plates.

    Victorian unregistered permits are easily obtained over the internet you just need to get a copy printed. NSW and Qld require a visit to a rego branch.

    I drive the vehicles home – and learn a lot! Slept in the back of the ute and driving an SS V8 with no number plates I saw 5 police cars who did not even look at me! The service station when filling up expected a drive off!

    A Victorian RWC cost say $160, (the cars from a dealer must be roadworthy – I specify this in the contract) an inspection fee and time to visit Vicroads and paying stamp duty 4.2% plus a small transfer fee and registration is costly but it is the same duty and transfer as buying the car in your home state.

    I’ve bought an Audi with 50 klms on it, an NC MX5 Ltd Edn and the SS. None needed any work and I have sold the Audi and MX5 for what I paid for them after a year or so of ownership, the SS is a keeper.

    If I did not know about cars I would get a professional inspection report, the few hundred dollars that costs can save thousands – get it before you but or travel to buy.

    September 2nd, 2020 at 1:12 pm