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Guide to Buying a Car Interstate

Buying a car from another state or territory in Australia? Find out what you need to know with Savvy.
Published on November 24th, 2020
  Written by 
Adrian Edlington
Adrian Edlington is PR & Communications Manager at Savvy. With a keen interest in personal finance, car loans, the mortgage industry, cost of living pressures, electric vehicles and renewable technology, Adrian's research includes conducting primary data surveys and analysis of up-to-the-minute secondary Australian data sources. His work on behalf of Savvy has been featured on ABC.net.au The Conversation, the Sydney Morning Herald, AFR, News.com.au, The Age, Herald Sun, Adelaide Now, SBS On The Money, 7News, Car Expert, Which Car, Drive.com.au and more. In his spare time, Adrian enjoys mountain biking and business podcasts.
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   Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas

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Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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If you are looking for your dream car but struggling to find it in your local area, you may want to consider widening the net. Purchasing a car interstate opens up a broader range of options and can potentially save you money. However, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind compared to buying locally. In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a car from another state or territory in Australia, ensuring a smooth and successful transaction.

How do I buy a car from another state or territory?

Step 1: Find your ideal car

  • Search online marketplaces: many popular platforms allow filtering by state. Refine your search with details like make, model, year and budget.
  • Consider dealerships: some dealerships offer interstate car purchases with delivery options.
  • Look for reputable sellers: check the seller's history and reviews (if available) on the platform. Be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true.

Step 2: Do your research and due diligence

  • Research market value: use resources like online valuation tools or independent mechanics' appraisals to get a sense of a fair price for the car.
  • Get a detailed vehicle history report: this will reveal past accidents, registration details and odometer readings, giving you a clearer picture of the car's condition.
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection: since you likely won’t be there to see the car in person, it's crucial to have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic. This will uncover any mechanical issues and potential repair costs.

Step 3: Finalise the purchase

  • Negotiate the price: once you have the inspection report, you can use it as leverage to negotiate a lower price with the seller.
  • Understand the legal requirements: familiarise yourself with the laws and regulations governing vehicle purchases in both the seller's state and your own state.
  • Make your payment: if financing the purchase, arrange for pre-approval from a lender or financial institution beforehand. Be cautious of payment methods that may pose a risk, such as wire transfers, and ensure that the transaction is conducted securely.

Step 4: Get your car home

  • Decide how to move your car: depending on the situation, you may want to drive the car back yourself, have it shipped by a specialist company or have the seller drop it off.
  • Consider the costs: each choice has its own associated costs, so this is an important point of consideration when buying interstate.
  • Unregistered vehicle permit: if you are driving the car back yourself, you may need to arrange for an unregistered vehicle permit to cover you as you transport the vehicle.

Step 5: Register your new vehicle

Pros and cons of buying a car interstate

Buying a car from another state can offer various advantages and drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons to weigh up:

Pros:

  • More choice: shopping interstate opens up a broader range of options, increasing the chance of finding the make, model and specifications you want.
  • Potential cost savings: prices may vary between states due to factors like demand, supply and taxes, potentially resulting in lower costs or better deals.
  • Avoid local market saturation: if your local market is saturated with a particular type of car, searching interstate opens doors to fresh options and potentially better deals.
  • Opportunity for adventure: travelling to purchase your new car can turn the buying process into an enjoyable road trip or excursion.

Cons:

  • Distance and travel costs: purchasing from another state often involves traveling to inspect the vehicle, which can incur expenses such as transportation, accommodation and time off work.
  • Challenges with inspection: assessing the condition of the car may be challenging when it's located far away, potentially leading to surprises or undisclosed issues.
  • Complicated registration process: registering an out-of-state vehicle in your home state can involve additional paperwork, fees and bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Higher risk of scams: be wary of online scams that target interstate car buyers. Always prioritise secure payment methods and be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true.

Additional tips for interstate car purchases

Here are some additional factors to keep in mind before deciding if an interstate purchase is the right move for you:

Count the costs

When making an interstate car purchase, there is a lot more than the cost of the car to consider. This includes:

  • Transport fees for moving the car from the seller's location to yours.
  • Temporary permits if you plan to drive the car back to your state.
  • Registration transfer fees.
  • Potential stamp duty, which may be payable when transferring ownership of a vehicle. Stamp duty costs vary depending on the vehicle and the region you are in.
  • Repair costs for any repairs identified during the pre-purchase inspection.

Don’t forget insurance

  • Temporary coverage: contact your current car insurance provider to see if your policy extends temporary coverage to an interstate purchase while you transport the car back home.
  • New car insurance: be prepared to obtain new car insurance for the vehicle once it's registered in your home state.

Maintain a paper trail

Keep meticulous records! Throughout the purchase process, hold onto copies of all receipts, inspection reports, contracts and any other relevant paperwork. This documentation can be crucial for future reference or in case of any unforeseen issues.

Trust your gut

Unfortunately, scammers target interstate car buyers. Be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true. Never send money upfront without a secure payment method or a signed contract in place. Trust your gut – if something feels off about the seller or the deal, walk away.

Buying a car from another state or territory can be a rewarding experience, offering access to a wider selection of vehicles and potential cost savings. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can navigate the process with confidence and make an informed decision.

If you're considering an interstate car purchase and need financing options, Savvy can help. Compare a range of car loans tailored to your needs and budget, and take the next step towards owning your dream car today.

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This guide provides general information and does not consider your individual needs, finances or objectives. We do not make any recommendation or suggestion about which product is best for you based on your specific situation and we do not compare all companies in the market, or all products offered by all companies. It’s always important to consider whether professional financial, legal or taxation advice is appropriate for you before choosing or purchasing a financial product.

The content on our website is produced by experts in the field of finance and reviewed as part of our editorial guidelines. We endeavour to keep all information across our site updated with accurate information.

Approval for car loans is always subject to our lender’s terms, conditions and qualification criteria. Lenders will undertake a credit check in line with responsible lending obligations to help determine whether you’re in a position to take on the loan you’re applying for.

The interest rate, comparison rate, fees and monthly repayments will depend on factors specific to your profile, such as your financial situation, as well others, such as the loan’s size and your chosen repayment term. Costs such as broker fees, redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, aren’t included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts may result in a different comparison rate.

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