Safety tips for buyers

Buying a car can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. To ensure that you make your decision safely, we’ve put together a few simple steps which you can follow to protect yourself online and in person through each stage of the car buying process. 


Step 1: Searching for cars 

  • Keep an eye out for significantly undervalued cars – if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. 
  • If you see an ad that does not look quite right whether the photos don’t match the description or the details of the vehicle seem to be a bit suspicious, you can report it to our team for investigation. 


Step 2: Contacting the seller 

  • Use the carsales member messaging function to keep all your communication in the one place. This system will not pass on your phone number or email address. 
  • Prepare some questions about the car to ask the seller to help verify that they are genuine and that the car is as described. You can also ask the seller if there is any finance owing. 
  • Do not provide the seller with your personal identification details like a copy of your license or banking information prior to seeing the vehicle in person. 


Step 3: Inspecting the car 

  • Arrange to meet at a neutral location like a police station car park or service station forecourt and try to take someone with you. 
  • Before you test drive the car, make sure the seller’s insurance covers you for test drives. 
  • Be wary of sellers asking for a deposit at this stage. If you do choose to put a deposit down, make sure you get a receipt stamped with the date and time. 


Step 4: Making an offer 

  • Before making an offer, make sure you know your limits when negotiating. What are you willing to pay? 
  • Do your research and know the value of the car before making a deal. Visit Redbook for detailed vehicle information including price guides and valuations. 
  • Find out the legal status of the car before making an offer. Getting a vehicle history reportwill help give you peace-of-mind as you can quickly determine if the car has ever been recorded as stolen, written off, has any finance owing on it, or is suspected as having its odometer rolled back.
  • If the seller has finance owing, discuss with the seller how they intend to repay the loan and ask the seller if they can provide up-to-date written confirmation about the amount owing from their lender.

  • Check that the seller has the appropriate roadworthy certification for the vehicle (if applicable in your state or territory). 


Step 5: Paying the seller 

  • Use a method of payment that provides you with proof of purchase like a receipt or email confirmation directly from the provider. 
  • If the seller has finance owing, consider whether it is possible to pay a portion of the sale price to the lender directly to clear any finance owing by the seller and then pay the balance to the seller. Most lenders should also be able to provide written documentation confirming how much is owing and whether the loan has been cleared.  If you have any concerns, consider seeking financial advice.

  • Where you pay the seller directly, ask for a signed receipt with the date and time to confirm payment. 

  • Never send cash in the mail. 
  • Check our security updates regularly for important information. 


Step 6: Get the car insured 

  • Make sure you have your new car insured from when you pick it up so you are covered for the drive home. 



Related articles: 

I’ve purchased the car, now what?
What do I do if a seller seems suspicious? 

Any information on this page is provided as a guide only. It is not professional or expert advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The content may not be appropriate, correct or sufficient for your circumstances and should not be relied on as the only reason you do or don’t do anything.
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