Purchasing a motor vehicle is one of the largest and most important purchases many of us will make in our lifetime. Unfortunately many of us will know someone who has purchased a ‘lemon’. So what motor vehicle warranty or protection are you entitled to at law when purchasing a passenger car?
It’s standard for a new vehicle to include a manufacturer’s warranty, usually of 3 to 5 years or around 100,000 km (whichever occurs first).
If you purchase a second hand vehicle from a licensed motor dealer, and the car has an odometer reading of less than 160,000 km and the vehicle is less than 10 years old at time of purchase, then there is a statutory warranty of 5,000 km or 3 months (whichever applies first). However some vehicle functions are not included as part of the statutory warranty.
Any purchase of a vehicle from a licensed dealer will also invoke the consumer protections of the Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”). The ACL provides that the goods sold must be of an acceptable quality, having regard to the nature of the goods, the price paid, and any representation made by the seller. The vehicle must also be ‘fit for purpose’, the purpose quite simply being to drive the vehicle on the road (see here for an example in case law). The protections of the ACL will often go beyond the standard warranty, but the extent to which they apply will vary depending on the particular facts of each matter.
If you purchase a vehicle at an auction, there is no statutory warranty, nor do you have protection under the Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”). You should thoroughly inspect any vehicle that you propose to purchase at auction, and you should especially not rely on any comments made by the seller or auctioneer’s agents.
If you purchase a vehicle privately, then there is no warranty, and you do not have the protection of the ACL. Any recourse against the seller will be limited at best, and so it’s wise to adopt the mindset of ‘buyer beware’. When purchasing privately you should also check the Personal Property Security Register to ensure that there is no charge or security interest registered against the vehicle.
An inspection by a trusted independent mechanic purchase to entering into a contract of sale for any used vehicle can often avoid the cost, time and stress involved in having a dispute over the condition of a second hand vehicle.
This post is general information only. It is not a substitute for legal advice from a lawyer. If you have a legal issue, you should always contact your lawyer to obtain advice that is relevant to your circumstances.