WAIT! Read this before you buy a car from a dealership!


When looking for a used car, many are cautioned against going to the dealer and look for a private seller instead.  They have a well earned reputation for being shady, with their sleek business suits, smooth talking and high pressure sales tactics, or are simply out to con the unsuspecting buyer.

Though this may be true for some (or many, depending on who you ask), this reputation isn’t fair to all dealerships, as they have to make a profit after covering their margins while providing a service to buyers who need a car but can’t afford a brand new one.

Beware of being sold a lemon, remember you have rights

There was a time where dodgy dealers’ selling defective cars was common occurrence in the used car industry. We have all heard a horror story about someone who spent their hard earned money on a used car, only for it to break down shortly after buying it (sometimes even on the way home!)

However you should be aware that if you buy a used car in Perth from a licensed motor vehicle dealer, it is covered by a statutory warranty. It is a requirement of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act that dealers must fix certain defects in used vehicles they have sold. The statutory warranty applies to vehicles that have a purchase price of $4000 or more, and varies, with limits depending on the age and distance travelled at the time of the sale.

This warranty serves as a good deterrent for the used car cowboys and as a result, all dealers should conduct their own inspection and make any necessary repairs before putting a used car out for sale.  This gives greater peace of mind for buyers.

Buying from a dealer is an advantage in this regard, because the statutory warranty does not apply to privately sold used cars which are usually “as-is”, meaning you’re on your own if you discover defects that need repairs after making the purchase.

They are more expensive than buying from private sellers

It is generally true that the purchase price of a used car from a dealer will likely be higher than if you were to buy from a private seller. Private sellers are often more open to greater negotiation in the purchase price, especially if they have a reason to make an urgent sale, like if they are moving away soon. For the dealer, they are a business needing to make a profit after covering their costs.

A little more to just the price

However there are some services and benefits that a dealer offers that you probably won’t get from a private seller.

With the statutory warranty in mind, dealers will conduct their own inspection and make any required repairs to defects found. Many will also give the used car a clean and/or detail too, to make it more presentable before putting it out for sale.

If you find the paperwork to be boring or confusing, then have no fear. Dealers sell cars for a living, so they will be familiar with the administrative requirements and are able to help you with all of that.

Finance is something that can be risky and should be taken cautiously. But if you do need it, many dealers will be able to help you get finance. Researching and applying for finance (especially for used cars) can be difficult and time-consuming, so the fact that the dealer has done all the legwork can be a bit of a relief.

Cash in your car

A quick and easy way to knock more off the price of your desired used car is to trade in your own car if you are buying a replacement. You will probably get more by selling it privately, but if you want to save the hassle, trading it in to the dealer is something to consider, especially if you need the money from the sale to buy your next car.

Getting past the high pressure sales

Pushy salespeople with high pressure sales tactics are an unfortunate and somewhat unavoidable part of buying from many dealers, and can make the whole buying process uncomfortable. The fact is that they rely on sales commissions as part of their income, and there also other factors that come into play, such as meeting sales quotas and pleasing the boss.

Better and more reputable dealers will have properly trained and knowledgeable sales staff that listen and cater your needs instead of trying to make that quick sale. If you do find a particularly forceful or persistent salesperson, let them or management know how you feel. If the response is unacceptable, you can always just walk away.


So with all that in mind, we can see that while there may be potential downsides to buying from dealer, the biggest probably being the price, they also offer other benefits that you won’t get from a private seller. As long as you do your own due diligence, there’s no good reason not to buy a used car from a dealers. Remember if all else fails and the requirements are met, you always have the statutory warranty to fall back on.

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