How to Check if a Car is Under Finance for Free

Find out how you can check if a car is under finance for free in Australia with Savvy today.
Published on August 14th, 2023
  Written by 
Thomas Perrotta
Thomas Perrotta is the managing editor of Savvy. Throughout his time at the company, Thomas has specialised in personal finance, namely car, personal and small loans, although he has also written on topics ranging from mortgages to business loans to banking and more. Thomas graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Media, majoring in journalism, and has previously had his work published in The Advertiser.
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   Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas


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're considering purchasing a used car in Australia, it's essential to know how to check whether the vehicle is under finance before you sign on the dotted line. You can do this through a PPSR check, but these aren’t always free of charge.

However, there are ways to conduct a finance check on a vehicle without having to pay a fee, so you can learn all about how to do so right here in Savvy’s helpful guide.

How do I find out if a car is still under finance for free in Australia?

In Australia, there are several ways to determine whether the car you’re looking to buy is under finance without having to pay a fee, including the following:

Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) check

The PPSR, previously known as the REVs check, is a national online register which provides information about whether a vehicle has any existing debts or financial interests attached to it, as well as whether it’s been stolen or written off. All that’s needed is to simply enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or chassis number to access the report. A PPSR check costs $2.

It's important to note, however, that you’re likely to come across a variety of companies purporting to offer PPSR or REVs checks for a fee greater than that of the actual PPSR. To avoid paying more than you need to for your vehicle finance check, you should visit the official PPSR website.

Free PPSR check through another company

While this vehicle finance check comes with a $2 charge when conducted via the PPSR site, some insurers, dealers or even private sellers may offer this for free as part of the purchase process. You may need to request this from a vendor during this process.

Contact the seller

Before requesting a check, it's worth asking the seller directly whether the vehicle is under finance. Honest vendors will provide you with accurate information.

If they confirm that there is outstanding finance on the car and you still wish to buy it, you’ll need to arrange with them who is responsible for paying it off. However, if they say that there isn’t any, it may still be worth going ahead with a PPSR check to be safe.

Inspection of documents

While this method may not directly reveal if a car is under finance, a thorough inspection of the vehicle's paperwork can provide valuable insights. Check the registration papers, ownership history and any associated documents for indications of outstanding finance. If something seems amiss, it's worth investigating further.

It's important to note that while each of these methods can help you determine if a car loan is still outstanding, they may not always provide other critical information such as the vehicle's accident history or odometer readings.

For a comprehensive understanding of a used car's condition and history, you may need to obtain a paid vehicle history report from reputable providers. These are private companies that will conduct an in-depth review of the vehicle for you for a fee higher than what you can expect to pay for any of the previous checks.

What other free resources can I use to check a car before I buy it?

State and territory government transport agencies offer online services which allow you to check the registration details of a vehicle, which are useful to determine whether they’re currently registered and when it expires. They may also confirm whether cars have been declared a write-off.

These services are usually available on official government websites and may require the vehicle's registration number or VIN. You can find the required resource for car registration checks in your state or territory here:

Why is it important to conduct a finance check on a vehicle before buying it?

Checking if the vehicle is under finance before buying it can help you avoid potentially sticky situations in the future. For instance, if you unknowingly buy a car under finance and fail to complete the previous owner’s payments, this could lead to it being repossessed by the lender.

Remember that a thorough check of the car's financial status is just one step in ensuring a safe and informed purchase, as there are plenty of other areas for you to double-check before signing on the dotted line.

What other checks should I conduct before buying a used car?

Some of the things you should look to do before buying a used car are as follows:

  • Physical inspection: have a look at the car yourself for signs of past damage or poor upkeep, including its interior, exterior, under the bonnet and tyres. You should also enlist a mechanic to conduct an independent inspection of your car for a more detailed report of its condition.
  • Test drive: take the car for a spin before you buy it. This will give you a better feel for its handling and potentially unearth unusual sounds, lights flashing on the dashboard and other issues.
  • Ask questions: it’s crucial to find out key details such as how many owners the car has had, why the current owner is selling it, if it’s been modified and whether you can check the car’s records.

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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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