Stock photo – under CC0 license

A recent study of over 1,500 people who had bought new cars within Australia in the last five years revealed that over 2/3rds of them experienced problems within the first five years.

If you’re thinking of shelling out $15,000 to $50,000 for a brand new car, how long do you expect it should take before it starts having issues? Longer than five years, I’ll bet.

Of course, if you’re buying new (or used) from a dealer, you’ll be entitled to a warranty under Australian Consumer Protection laws (about 3 years of protection for non-user-caused errors – but this is flexible). If you’re lucky, you’ll be one of the 73% whose problems were fully covered. If you’re not? You’ll be one of the 22% who were either not covered at all or only partially covered due to various definitions of manufacturer’s error, user error or time frames.

It can be even cheaper to buy directly from a private owner (check redbook to know the value of what you’re looking at) but then you get no warranty at all. It’s a gamble. You might get a lemon that sputters and dies within a month, or you might get a solid car that has the same amount of problems as a near-new car for a fraction of the cost.

You can reduce your risk by requesting a private seller get an inspection done by your state authority first or pay for/inspect it yourself if you’re mechanically inclined. Also, seriously consider checking the PPSR to make sure the car is owned by the person who’s selling it.

The battle ahead: In general, it was found that women were more likely to be denied a resolution when battling for repair under warranty and the majority of all people surveyed didn’t escalate the matter if the dealership refused them or delayed matters until the warranty expired.

Of those who did receive repair or replacement, 16% were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement – about something they were legally entitled to.

What to do if this is you:  

  • Contact the dealer first, in writing.
  • If your car is under warranty or very close to being under warranty, be careful not to imply that it may be the result of your actions.
  • If a resolution is not provided, or you are running out of time under warranty, escalate the matter – in writing.
  • If you need to make a complaint, contact the ACCC or Consumer Protection.

If you’re in financial hardship due to a car loan or need assistance making a complaint due to a disability, you can call Midlas on 9250 2123 to see a free Financial Counsellor or Disability Advocate.

Midlas Mission: We partner with individuals and organisations to promote independence, strength and wellbeing in our community through support, advocacy and education.