Buying and selling a vehicle

Buying a vehicle

Buying a vehicle is one of the most expensive purchases you will make so it's a good idea to get all the information you can.

Before you buy

Check the registration expiry date to find out if a car is registered and if the vehicle is recorded as either stolen, written-off or defected, or you can phone 13 10 84.

Use the Personal Property Security Register or phone 1300 007 777 to find out if the vehicle has any financial interests recorded against it. You will need to provide the vehicle's VIN or chassis number to search this register.

You will have to pay a transfer fee, or administration fee, and stamp duty to put the vehicle in your name.

Vehicles registered in South Australia

When you buy any vehicle, including trailers and caravans, you are required to make sure it's registered, before driving it on the road. When buying a vehicle that is registered in South Australia, you must complete and lodge an application for transfer of registration within 14 days. If you do not lodge an application for transfer within 14 days of the date of sale, a late fee may apply.

1. The buyer and seller complete and sign the application for transfer

The buyer and the person selling the vehicle must both complete and sign the application for transfer of registration which is on the reverse side of the registration certificate or on the top section of the registration details certificate if printed from a mySA GOV account.

The seller of the vehicle must provide the registration certificate before the sale can be finalised. If the seller doesn't have a certificate, they can pay a fee and get a replacement at any Service SA customer service centre. mySA GOV account holders can print the registration details certificate through their account at any time.

The registration certificate must show the details of the person or business who is selling the vehicle.

If the seller doesn't have a registration certificate it may indicate they are not the registered owner of the vehicle or that they may intend to cancel the registration once the vehicle is sold.

MySA GOV account login

2. The buyer lodges the application for transfer at Service SA

The buyer must lodge the application for transfer within 14 days of purchase at a Service SA customer service centre and pay a transfer fee and stamp duty.

The person selling you the car must lodge the notice of disposal within 14 days.


Statutory warranty applies, from the date of purchase:

  • for vehicles that cost between $3,001 and $6,000, the vehicle will be covered under warranty for the first 3,000 km travelled or for two months, whichever occurs first.
  • for vehicles that cost over $6,000, the vehicle will be covered under warranty for the first 5,000 km travelled or for three months, whichever occurs first.

The warranty does not apply to a vehicle that:

  • travelled more than 200,000 kms before sale
  • was first registered more than fifteen years ago
  • was sold for $3,000 or less
  • had defects that were reasonably apparent at the time of sale
  • has damage caused by the purchaser.

If your car needs repairs carried out under the statutory warranty, you must contact the dealer within the warranty period and before having the repairs done. Apart from excluded accessories, repairs should be completed free of charge with new or second hand parts. Your warranty is extended by the amount of time the dealer keeps your vehicle for repairs.

Waiving your warranty rights

You have the option to waive the statutory warranty on your car. To waive your warranty rights, you must sign an agreement and have it witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, a lawyer or an authorised bank manager.

You should always have the vehicle checked out independently by a qualified mechanic before you waive your warranty rights.

Regardless of warranties, consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law require a product to be of acceptable quality its reasonable life. This may be longer than the warranty period, especially in the case of expensive products such as cars.

Cooling off

A buyer is entitled to a two day cooling off period for the purchase of second-hand vehicles bought from a dealer. There is no cooling off period if you buy at auction or through a private sale.

A dealer may ask for a deposit of up to 10% of the purchase price of the vehicle. If you decide to cool off and not go through with the purchase, the dealer is entitled to keep part of your deposit, $100 or 2%, whichever is less. The balance must be returned to you by the end of the next business day after the dealer receives your notice to cool off.

Waiver of cooling off rights

If you are certain about the vehicle you wish to purchase and want to take it with you straight away, you may waive your cooling off rights by signing a waiver form. However, a dealer should not pressure you into waiving your cooling off rights.

Consumer and Business Services (CBS) provides advice on buying a car in its Autocheck booklet, available from the CBS website.

Unregistered vehicles

When you buy a vehicle you are required to register it, or ensure it is currently registered, before driving it on the road.

If you buy a South Australian vehicle to drive and it's not registered, you must complete an application for registration and third party insurance (87.8 KB PDF) and lodge it at a Service SA customer service centre.

If you don’t want to register the vehicle but want to transport it to another location, you can apply for a short-term unregistered vehicle permit. Options to get a permit are:

If there are no other requirements, after you pay the fee, a certificate of registration will be issued to you for all vehicles.

Vehicles from interstate

Some vehicles may require an Interstate transfer vehicle identity inspection (Tier 2) before they can be registered in South Australia.

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Page last updated 23 August 2017

Provided by:
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
Last Updated:
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