Clear title or free from debt

‘Clear title’ means something that is free from unpaid debt.

If a person has a car loan, the company that lent them the money has an ‘interest’ in the car. The car does not have ‘clear title’, because the person does not fully own it.

If you buy a car without clear title, and the previous owner defaults on their debt, the lender may repossess your car to recover their costs.

Never purchase a vehicle that does not have clear title.

Buying from a dealer

If you buy a vehicle from a licensed motor dealer or auctioneer, they must guarantee clear title.

You can ask for proof in the form of a Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) certificate. The dealer can charge you a small fee for this.

Buying privately

It is your responsibility to check that the vehicle you want to buy has clear title. You can do this by searching the PPSR.

If you print a certificate, it will act as proof of clear title for 24 hours.

If there is a debt on the vehicle, make sure the previous owner clears it before you buy the vehicle.

Read more about buying a used car. You can also download our Car Smart guide.