When looking to buy a car to travel our amazing country, you have three practical options:

1. Buy from a dealer with a guaranteed buy-back offer

2. Buy from a regular dealer

3. Buy privately (either from a fellow backpacker or a local)

Option 1. Dealers with guaranteed buy-back offers
There are several specialist dealers that offer to sell you a car, 4x4 or van, with a guarantee and a fixed buy-back price at the end.
There are obvious advantages and disadvantages with these deals.
You will pay a more than street market value for the vehicle, but with a guarantee and a fixed buy-back at the end, a good dealer is usually only making a fair working profit margin.
In addition, service, safety check and registration are generally completed by the dealer, possibly saving $1,000+ that is often forgotten in a private sale!
Friendly support from the dealer also is a nice thing to have, often there will be maps, recommended routes, roadside assistance, telephone support, roadside assistance and helpful advice provided.(dealer dependent)
Sometimes the car may even be provided with camping gear.

Cost? An example, maybe you buy a Ford Falcon from a 'buyback-dealer' for $5,500 and get a guarantee to buy it back from you at the end of your trip for 40% of that value ... ($2,200) ... so the car would depreciate in value by $3,300 over the time that you owned it.
If you kept the car for 6 months, that is $550 per month, or ~$18 per day ... not too bad when compared to rental?

HOWEVER - you bought the vehicle, it is YOUR car, so you have the option of selling it before you are due to return it.
If you can sell the car (via advertising it FREE @ BCC for example!!), you will stand a good chance of getting more than the guaranteed buy-back, making the whole deal a lot more attractive!!
Can't sell the car and need to fly home? Return it to the dealer for your buy-back money ... easy, no last minute stress :-)

In the case above, you would not get $5,500 for the car in a private sale, but every dollar above $2,200 is a bonus - agreed?!
If you are planning on traveling for more than 3 months and want to de-risk the ownership experience, a buy-back dealer can be a good option, especially if you manage to sell privately before the return.

Use BCC to pre-advertise your car / van / 4x4 as soon as you buy it, regardless of where you bought it.
We have a future sales board, that allows backpackers en-route to Australia to check out your car before you even get to your destination!


Profile of a person buying from a buy-back dealer?
Person who wants to maximise their time here having fun, does not want the uncertainty @ the end of the trip on how they will sell their car.
Sell and go mentality, happy to pay a premium for less hassle.

Option 2. Buy from a regular dealer
Buying from a regular dealer can be intimidating and there are bad car dealers in the world!
We suggest looking for a specialist dealer that has a reputation for looking after backpackers.
There are some recommended dealers coming in from backpackers and we will add them to the review page as they come in.
All dealers are obliged by law to make sure the car has clear title, this means it is not stolen and it is free of finance.
A good dealer should also help with the registration process.

Buying from a regular dealer will get you a car for “less” money than a buyback-dealer, but you will need to sell it!

Profile of a person buying from a regular dealer?
Person who does not want to pay the premium of a buy-back dealer and therefore has allowed
extra time at the end of their trip to sell their car.

Option 3. Buy privately
Obviously buying and selling privately allows you the maximum choice of vehicles and prices.
In many cases, you will probably be able to pick-up a car in a private sale at a bargain price, but there are risks and you should understand what you are getting into.
Note: You should budget at least $1,000 on top of any private sale to cover a safety check, a service and registration fees / charges.
It certainly is possible to buy privately and thousands of backpackers buy and sell cars privately each year, but getting it right is important to ensure you are legal, covered by insurance and safe.
More than 4,000 private backpacker sales were recorded on the BCC site in 2009 and 2010 and can be viewed here for research:


Buying a private car? What could be easier?
Pay some money ... drive away?!!!
If you buy a car privately, there are some things to consider and complete to make sure you are 100% legal!!
At minimum :
1. You need to register your new car in your name (vital)
2. You need to make sure you have proper insurance (vital)
3. You need to understand the length of registration a car has.(important)
4. You need to get a service and safety check.(important)

There are 8 states / territories in Australia. (NSW, QLD, NT, WA, SA, VIC, ACT and TAS)
Cars are registered to a state, if you look @ the number plate of the car, you will instantly know which state the car is registered too.
If you double check the windscreen sticker, you will see how long the registration lasts.
The sticker on the windscreen is paired to the registration document. Often the registration document is mistakenly referred to as the blue slip, (as it is a blue document!!) however the blue slip is actually the paper you get after the safety inspection you get when you transfer a car from another state to NSW!
Do not take the windscreen sticker as proof of legal registration!!! The paperwork must also be in order.
If you transfer registration from one person to another, you will need to let the registration authority know. Some states are easier than others in this regard.
If you don't do this and you are stopped or have an accident, you will face severe financial penalties, possibly in worst case imprisonment and or deportation!

Transfer of Registration
The trickiest part, but do not skip it!
With eight states, each with slightly different rules, this is a hot and difficult topic.
Cars from WA, QLD, NSW and VIC are the four most commonly listed states for cars on the BCC site.

VIC and QLD insist that the car has a safety inspection before it is offered for sale.
This makes private interstate sales of QLD and VIC cars hardest, however if the car has a valid safety certificate, it 'can' be sold anywhere.
You will need a permanent address in the registered state to transfer the car into your name and the registration document will be posted there, so you can't give a false address, call a hostel in that state and make sure they are happy to hold your mail until you arrive!
Note: QLD will still insist the buyer is in QLD within 14days of sale to attend the registration office though!

NSW cars have an annual safety check (similar to the MOT in the UK), however it is required that the buyer attends the registration office in person within 14days of buying the car.
This makes selling a NSW registered car tricky if outside NSW, but easier when buying or selling in NSW.

WA allow Internet transfer.
This makes WA the easiest registration for backpackers to buy and sell anywhere!

If you buy a car that does not allow mail or Internet registration transfer, you will need to register the car again in the state you purchase it.
This will usually involve an inspection, a government fee and some taxes. You maybe able to get a small refund from the original registration state.

The easiest and probably the best thing to do is buy (and sell) a car registered in the state where it is registered too.

You can use the BCC forum for help and advice / tips from the BCC community of members.

The pink slip, the blue slip and the green slip ... what are they?!!
In NSW the Pink slip is the safety inspection ... and is a written record of the annual safety inspection needed to complete re-registration. (cars over 5 years old)
Many NSW cars nearing the end of their registration time are advertised for sale with a new pink slip.
The idea being that the new buyer only needs to purchase a green slip and pay the government charges for the re-registration. (fixed costs)
The pink slip is good to have, as it lets you know the basic safety items meet minimum state standards, e.g. brakes and lights work, tires are okay etc.
The pink slip does not cover the engine, gearbox or anything else ... so don't take a pink slip as anything other than the minimum safety check!
In NSW a Blue slip is also proof of a safety inspection. The blue slip is only required if you are transferring a car from interstate, for example a QLD car being registered in NSW would need a blue slip.
The blue slip check is a little longer and covers more detail than the pink slip.(see the forum for blue slip mechanics)
In NSW (and other states) the Green slip is the mandatory third party insurance required to complete registration. It is not refundable unless you scrap the car or transfer to a different state. The green slip is linked to the registration of the car, so if you buy a legally registered car, the green slip must have been valid at the time of registration and covers the duration of the registration.
Your green slip covers injury to other people if your vehicle is involved in an accident.
Your green slip does not cover damage to property, other vehicles or to your vehicle, nor does the green slip cover theft.
Insurance for those occurrences is obtained through a third party property policy.
We strongly advise and recommend that green slip insurance needs to be supplemented with third party property insurance.
Why? If you scratch, bump or scrape something, without third party insurance you will pay out of your own pocket!
There are some expensive things you can damage, so purchase insurance to cover the unexpected ... Third Party Insurance it is not that expensive!
Call around NRMA, AAMI, GIO for quotes ... you can normally get a pro-rata refund when you sell the car. (pro-rate refund is the money back for the time you don't own the car anymore!)
You can also get a quote for insurance from the travellers-autobarn or the Kings Cross Car Market (which is no longer a car market, but still exists as a car dealership).

As an overseas visitor, your green slip may vary wildly from $300 to $600 +

The registration document itself, is proof of ownership, although the document is not proof of clear title. (see below)
Ensure that when the owner offers a registration document, it has the official annual payment receipt box filled in.
If it doesn't, it may actually point to the car being unregistered ... double check this.
In some cases the receipt number maybe written in pen, if this is the case, a quick phone call to the registration office will confirm its validity.

Do not take the windscreen sticker as proof of registration!!! The paperwork must also be in order.

Proof of clear title
You need to make 100% sure that the person you are buying the car from is the person who is the registered owner. If you don't, you may end up buying a stolen car!!
You should also ensure that the car is not financed and there is no outstanding debt.
When buying the car, always ask to see proof of identity and make a note of license and / or passport number on your receipt.
Of course make sure the identity (passport and / or drivers license) maps to the name and address on the registration document!
In regard to finance, you can run what is called a REVS check against the car. To complete this, you will need the chassis (or VIN) number, engine number and registration number.
Example for NSW revs check:
There are other useful links in our forum.

You most likely don't have a permanent address, but the registration authority requires one!
Most hostels will allow you to use their address, but will return mail to sender after two weeks. (double check this with your hostel manager)
In many cases if you are buying a car from a backpacker / traveler, you will obviously note that the seller has a hostel address ... this is un-avoidable and fairly normal.
A better option is to use a mail service such as Mail4ward. There is a Mail4ward discount in place for BCC users.
From just $10 per month, mail4ward will provide you with a permanent address!
(Note: we are not paid in any way for recommending Mail4ward!!)

The Car !
Obviously don't pay too much for a car!!!
You can use BCC to check what cars are being bought and sold for at the moment.
Note: Advertised price does not reflect the value / final sale price!

Redbook can be used as a guide, but the variation in the price of older car, 4x4, vans and campers in particular is not black and white.
Long registration, good condition and camping gear may increase the price by several thousand dollars from a car of the same age in poor condition, with short registration and no camping gear. Redbook is a very good guide for newer cars, not so good for backpacker cars!

Ten or twenty years will also lead to major variations in condition.
An old car in good condition maybe worth more and be easier to sell (important!!) than a similar age/model car in average or poor condition.
Obviously this car will be with you for a long period of many months and be in your photos and memories forever ...!
Included items such as good camping gear maybe a reason to pay a little more than average ...

Length of remaining registration should have a significant bearing on the value of the car.
Re-registering a car has expenses involved, so the longer the rego the better ... in some ways the shorter is also good, because the price should be much lower, perhaps by more than $1,000 ... but you will need to do more work and have some risk, i.e. pink slip or blue slip and green slip expenses.
Drive the car yourself or a have a mechanically minded friend drive it, then if initially satisfied, have the car checked by a certified mechanic before you part with cash. We have quite a few recommended mechanics in the forum.
It is always good advice to have the car serviced when you buy it, so when talking to the mechanic and asking for a mechanical check, let them know if the car is okay you will come back for a service. (ask for a price, servicing prices obviously vary from car to car, place to place and is kilometer dependent)
Tell the garage you are intending to drive around Australia and ask for the hoses and radiator to be double checked ... loosing water in the dessert is not good ;-)

Station wagons (estates) are popular with travelers, for the simple reason you can get more stuff in them + even sleep in them!
Buy a car with an eye to selling it ... if you can get your money back or something close, then you are way ahead of the rental / buy-back curve!
Buy the wrong car or fail to sell it, you may wish you rented!

As a general rule, stick to major Australian or Japanese brands ... if you need a spare radiator @ Three Ways Junction (middle of the country), your lovely European car could be sitting waiting for skills and parts for a long time!!

It is easier to sell a $2000 car than a $10,000 car ... $2000 to $3000 and you have a good chance of buying and selling a good private sale travel car with registration.
Van's and 4WD's will obviously be more expensive and cost more to run ... do you need a 4x4? Do you need a van ... or is a tent okay ... there is no right or wrong answer!! It depends on where you are going and what you are doing .... our research shows 39% of people believe cars are the way to go, but over the same sample period, 45% went for vans and 16% for 4x4's.

Remember the tourist industry is seasonal, so it is considerably harder to sell your car in winter than summer.
If you are planning to leave outside of summer, be prepared to slash the sale price, or re-consider buying from a buy-back dealer!

Profile of a person buying privately?
Bargain hunter with spare time at the beginning and end of the trip ... cash poor and time rich.

Don't forget to get car insurance. This is not about protecting your van, it is about protecting your pocket!
If you crash (or bump!)into another car, who will pay for 'their' damage?
Take out at very minimum Third Party Property insurance.

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