Buying a new vehicle

Buying a new vehicle can be a very exciting time. However,  you need to take the buying process and contract seriously.

When  buying a new vehicle there are a number of things to  do to ensure the process  goes smoothly.

Before you buy a new vehicle, make sure you:

  • check the contract, total cost and warranty conditions
  • are aware that there is no cooling-off period
  • check the dates on the compliance and build plates
  • negotiate the best deal that suits you
  • pay a deposit to the dealer (make sure it’s refundable)
  • conduct a pre-delivery check
  • understand the dealer’s policy for resolving disputes.


The contract of sale for the purchase of a vehicle is a legally binding document.

Do not sign the contract until you want to buy the vehicle.

Before signing make sure the contract:

  • has no unfavourable clauses
  • shows the trade-in amount (if you are trading another vehicle to help buy the new vehicle) and delivery date
  • has the name  of the financial institution you are going to get your loan from (if applicable).

You should never sign an incomplete contract and always keep a copy of what your sign.

If you are attaching your own personalised plates, make sure the dealer does not include the standard plate fee.

Specific contract requirements

If you have specific contract requirements, make sure you write them into the contract.

Some examples are:

  • "This contract is subject to the purchaser obtaining sufficient finance from (insert the name of your  credit provider) to complete the purchase".
  • "(Insert vehicle details, including the colour and build date) is to be delivered by (insert date) otherwise the contract will be cancelled and deposit refunded".

Total cost

The dealer must specify all mandatory costs you will pay when buying a vehicle.

This should include the sum of:

  • the actual price of the vehicle
  • vehicle registration duty (previously known as stamp duty)
  • dealer delivery charges
  • any other levies
  • fees that must be paid before you can take the vehicle.

Make sure you know the full cost of the vehicle, including any  additional costs such as window tinting or rust proofing.

Guarantees and warranties

Consumer guarantees

The law  automatically gives you rights when you buy goods and services, including vehicles and trailers. These are your consumer guarantees.

There are 9 consumer guarantees that apply to any goods you buy from  businesses in Queensland.

You can seek a remedy (a solution to the issue) if a business sells you a vehicle that doesn’t meet these guarantees. The business will have  to attempt to correct any fault, deficiency or failure. This might be a refund,  repair, replacement or compensation for the drop in value of the product.

When there is a  major failure, you can:

  • reject  the vehicle and choose a refund or a replacement
  • ask  for compensation for any drop in value of the vehicle.

Manufacturer's warranty

When you buy a new vehicle, the seller must give you a copy of  the manufacturer’s warranty.

You should have a full mechanical inspection done by a  qualified independent mechanic before the warranty expires. If any problems are  found, they can be fixed within the warranty period.

Learn  more about warranties  when buying a vehicle.

Cooling-off period

There is no cooling-off period on the sale of a new vehicle. Make sure you are happy with the vehicle and the terms of contract before signing  it

A new vehicle has never  been licensed or registered. A demonstration vehicle (‘demo model’) is not classed as a new vehicle.

A cooling-off period is an amount of time given to you to end the contract without large penalties. Used  vehicle purchases have a cooling-off period.

Vehicle plate checks

Before you take your vehicle, you should check the build and compliance dates. These dates are found on the plates fitted to your vehicle.

The build date is when the vehicle was manufactured and is used  to value a vehicle when you resell it.

The compliance date is when the vehicle met the Australian safety standards—making it legal to drive.

The compliance date is not always the same as the build date, particularly with imported vehicles. Make sure the advertised year model of the vehicle matches the build date.

The build date represents that vehicle’s true age, and you should use this date to estimate resale  value.

Negotiating a good deal

When you visit a dealer, ask them to give you a firm price in writing for the model you want. Get prices from as many dealers as possible.

If you are going to trade in your current vehicle, ask for a firm price on your trade-in.

Get any agreements in writing and have them signed by the manager.

Don’t risk getting into financial difficulty later—stick to  your budget and be prepared to walk away if you can’t get the price you want.


Dealers often ask you for a deposit to:

  • prove you want to buy the vehicle
  • reserve the vehicle.

You should only pay the minimum deposit the dealer will accept.

Before you hand over your deposit:

  • check that it is refundable
  • understand the terms and conditions
  • get a receipt for every payment you make.

Pre-delivery check

Before you drive off with your new vehicle, make sure to check:

  • there are no dents or chips in the paintwork
  • there are no cuts or scratches on the interior
  • all accessories or  extras you ordered were included
  • the build date of the vehicle matches what the dealer has told you.

Resolving disputes

You should always try to resolve any disputes with the dealer. If you are not happy with the dealer’s response, you should then make a  complaint to the Office of Fair Trading.

See the steps to making a consumer complaint.