Buying a written-off vehicle

Understand the risks and steps to take when buying a vehicle that has been written-off.

Do your checks 

Always ask if a vehicle’s ever been written off, and keep a written record of the seller’s answer. They’re legally required to tell you if the vehicle’s written-off. 

We also strongly recommend that you check the rego and do a Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) check before buying any vehicle.

A PPSR check will tell you if the vehicle’s on the Written-Off Vehicles Register, and if there’s any money owing on it. 

If you buy a car and realise later that it’s stolen, or there’s money owing on it, you might lose the vehicle and the money you paid for it. 

For more information about protecting yourself when buying a used vehicle, refer to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Disclaimer

Sometimes there can be a delay in adding a vehicle to the Written-Off Vehicles Register. Even if a vehicle isn’t listed as a write-off when you buy it, it might be added to the register at a later date. 

If that happens, you might be required to get a VIV certificate to keep the vehicle on the road.

 Important:

If a written-off vehicle’s been repaired, but hasn’t had a VIV inspection yet, make sure the seller gives you all receipts for the replacement parts and repairs that were done. If they don’t have all the receipts, you may need to re-repair the vehicle with different parts.

You can’t use a statutory declaration in place of a missing receipt

Check The Vehicle Identity (VIV) inspection for details of what you need at a VIV inspection. 

If you buy a statutory write-off that was written-off after 1 May 2002, it can never be registered, and can only be used for parts or recycling. 

Buying a repaired write-off

When buying a write-off that’s been repaired, you should:

  • ask if the vehicle’s in the same condition as when it was written-off, or if it’s been repaired 
  • ask the seller for written proof of what’s been repaired (eg a repair diary, invoices for parts and repair work)
  • get an objective professional inspector to check the quality of repairs, and make sure there’s been no tampering with the vehicle’s identifiers 
  • keep a copy of the sales contract 
  • take photos of the vehicle’s condition, including
       - the exterior: front passenger side, front driver side, rear passenger side, rear driver side 
       - the general interior, including the: instrument cluster, steering wheel, dashboard 

If the vehicle doesn’t have a VIV certificate, it’s really important for the seller to give you all the receipts for the repairs and replacement parts that were used. Any receipts for replacement parts need to include the VIN of the vehicle they were taken from. 

If all the receipts can’t be provided, or receipts don’t include VINs, you might need to re-repair the vehicle with parts that can be accounted for. 

For a full list of what’s required at a VIV inspection, refer to The Vehicle Identity Validation (VIV) inspection.

Keep in mind that, even if the vehicle’s passed a VIV inspection and has a certificate, that’s not a guarantee that there won’t be problems with the vehicle in the future. Consider this seriously before buying any vehicle that’s been written-off.

Undisclosed damage

‘Undisclosed damage’ is damage that isn’t visible when you buy a vehicle, and/or that the seller didn’t tell you about. 

Sometimes, damage is deliberately hidden or understated, so that you’ll be more likely to buy the vehicle. To minimise the risk of this happening: 

  • get a third-party inspector to inspect the vehicle before you buy it, and ask them for a certificate specifying their findings 
  • ask the seller for all documentation about the vehicle’s damage and repairs 
  • listen for strange noises when you test-drive the vehicle 

In all cases, undisclosed damage needs to be repaired before the vehicle can pass a VIV inspection

For more information about repairing a vehicle, check out Repairing written-off vehicles.

When the vehicle’s ready to be registered, you need to get a VIV certificate and a roadworthy. Then, book a registration appointment at VicRoads. 

 

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