26 September 2023

Car buyers warned to dodge NSW flood cars

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Consumer Protection is warning the public to be vigilant after fears that flood-damaged vehicles from the Eastern States may be dumped on the Western Australian market.

Consumer Protection said buyers of second-hand vehicles should question the seller about the history of the vehicle and specifically ask if it had been damaged by floodwaters or was a write-off.

Executive Director for Consumer Protection, Trish Blake said there were a number of checks that should be carried out that would reveal the vehicle’s history whether it was a car, truck, caravan, trailer, bus or motorcycle.

“Motor vehicle dealers and auctioneers in WA are not obliged to voluntarily reveal that the vehicle for sale has been affected by the recent floods in the Eastern States, but they are obliged to tell the truth if specifically asked,” Ms Blake said.

“It would be a breach of the Australian Consumer Law if dealers and auctioneers failed to disclose the true history of the vehicle when asked, so buyers should interrogate them, especially while there is a danger of flood-damaged vehicles being sold here.”

She said there were no legal protections for consumers involved in private sales, so this was an area of greater risk.

“Before purchasing, prospective buyers should have the vehicle checked by a qualified mechanic, inspect its log book and search the online registry of written-off vehicles using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) found under the bonnet,” Ms Blake said.

“The seller should provide the licence papers to the purchaser, to confirm ownership and validity of the licence.”

Chief Executive of the Motor Trade Association of WA, Stephen Moir said it was estimated that as many as 20,000 vehicles had been damaged by the recent floods in South-East Queensland and Northern NSW.

“The vehicle’s electrical systems will definitely be affected if damaged by floodwaters, and corrosion issues may emerge some time later. There may also be problems getting the vehicle registered in WA and insurance companies may refuse to offer any cover,” Mr Moir said.

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