By Clair Morton
Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2018
What are the chances the used car you’re hoping to buy privately is not actually theirs to sell in the first place, or will come with a huge pile of debt? It might be higher than you think.
Nearly 1 in 10 used cars inspected by RAA’s Vehicle Inspection service last year were found to have been either stolen, previously written-off, or still had money owing on them.
“Unfortunately cars with significant issues are always in circulation, but it’s very worrying to think South Australians could find themselves really out of pocket and in a difficult situation just by buying a used car,” said RAA motoring expert Mark Borlace.
If you do unknowingly buy a second-hand car that’s been stolen or still has money owing on it, your vehicle could be repossessed, either by law enforcement or debt collectors.
While cars that have been written-off have to be repaired to an acceptable standard and checked by a state authority to be registered again, which could be costly and can affect its value.
The number of vehicles RAA inspections found to be written-off or stolen in 2017
“If you go ahead and just hand over your hard-earned cash to the private seller, what guarantees you that the seller will pay any finance that is outstanding on the car? The answer of course, is nothing,” Mr Borlace said.
“That’s why it’s so important to do a history and mechanical check on any used car you’re seriously considering buying – you don’t want to be left with a huge repair bill or be out of pocket by paying someone else’s debt.”
Of the 2684 RAA pre-purchase inspections completed in 2017, there were 102 vehicles found to be either written off or stolen, and 156 where money was still owed on the vehicle.
A further 178 cars were found to have serious faults, which helped customers make informed decisions about their potential purchase.
But how do you go about finding out the history of a car?
First, find the vehicle identification number (VIN) or chassis number from the vehicle, then go to the Personal Properties Security Register.
RAA’s vehicle inspectors can do the work for you as part of a Total Care Inspection on the vehicle you intend to buy.