Understanding PPSR for Cars

Learn about the PPSR and how it can help when you are buying or selling a car in Australia.
Published on December 3rd, 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


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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For car owners and potential buyers in Australia, the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) is an essential tool for protecting your financial interests. Whether you're buying a brand-new car from a dealership or a used car from a private seller, the PPSR can help you avoid unexpected surprises and navigate car purchases with confidence.

This guide dives deep into the importance of PPSR in the car space, explaining its functionalities and how it benefits car buyers and sellers.

What is the PPSR?

The PPSR is a national online register administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). It is a vital resource for businesses and individuals alike, recording security interests in personal property. This includes:

  • Vehicles (cars, motorcycles, boats)
  • Machinery and equipment
  • Inventory (goods for sale)
  • Investment assets (shares, jewellery)
  • Intangible property (intellectual property)

The PPSR allows you to register a security interest, which essentially means you have a legal claim on a specific piece of personal property as collateral for a debt. This debt could be a loan, a lease agreement or a credit purchase.

Why is the PPSR important for cars?

The PPSR plays a crucial role in car transactions by providing transparency and protecting both buyers and sellers:

  • Peace of mind for buyers: conducting a PPSR search before purchasing a car can reveal any outstanding security interests (loans, leases) on the vehicle. This means you'll be aware of any potential claims against the car before you finalise the purchase. Imagine buying a used car, only to discover later that the seller still owes money on it to a lender. With a registered security interest, the lender could potentially repossess the car, even if you've already paid for it. A PPSR search helps you avoid such situations.
  • Protection for sellers: if you're selling a car with a loan outstanding, registering your security interest on the PPSR protects your financial stake. In the event the buyer defaults on the loan, the PPSR registration gives you the legal right to repossess the car to recover the debt.

How do I use the PPSR?

The PPSR system is user-friendly and accessible online. Here's how you can use it for car purchases:

For buyers:

  1. Conduct a PPSR search: before finalising a car purchase, visit the PPSR website and conduct a PPSR search for a small cost. You can search using the car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
  2. Interpret the results: the search results will reveal any registered security interests on the car. These could be loans, leases or other financing arrangements. If there are outstanding interests, you'll need to understand the details from the seller before proceeding.
  3. Negotiate or obtain clearance: depending on the situation, you might negotiate a lower price with the seller if there are outstanding interests. Alternatively, you might require the seller to settle the debt and obtain a PPSR clearance certificate before completing the purchase.

For sellers:

  1. Register a security interest: if you're selling a car with a loan outstanding, you'll need to register your security interest on the PPSR. This protects your financial stake in case the buyer defaults on the loan.
  2. Provide a clearance certificate: once the loan is settled before selling the car, you can obtain a PPSR clearance certificate from ASIC. This document proves there are no outstanding security interests on the car, making it easier for the buyer to complete the purchase with confidence.

Additional tips for using PPSR for cars:

  • Always conduct a PPSR search before buying a car, even from a trusted source.
  • Understand the implications of any outstanding security interests revealed by the search.
  • Don't hesitate to seek legal advice if you're unsure about any aspect of the PPSR process.
  • Keep copies of the PPSR search results and any clearance certificates for your records.

Is the PPSR the same as a car history check?

A PPSR check and a car history check are both important for informing car purchases, but they serve different purposes:

  • PPSR check: focuses on the financial history of a car. It reveals any outstanding security interests (loans, leases) registered on the vehicle. This is crucial because if there's a hidden loan on the car, the lender could repossess it even if you buy it from the seller.
  • Car history check: provides a more comprehensive overview of the car's past. This can include:
    • Registration history: number of previous owners and location history.
    • Accident history: records any reported accidents or damage repairs.
    • Odometer readings: helps identify potential odometer tampering.
    • Registration status: ensures the car isn't stolen or scrapped.
    • Service history: provides details on past maintenance and repairs (not always available).

A PPSR check is essential to ensure you're not buying a car with outstanding debt. A clean PPSR doesn't guarantee a perfect car, however. This is where a car history check comes in. By combining a PPSR check with a car history check, you get a more complete picture of the car.

By using the PPSR effectively, car buyers and sellers in Australia can navigate transactions with greater transparency and protection, ensuring a smoother and more secure car buying or selling experience.

While a PPSR check is a crucial step in buying a car, it's just one stop on your journey. After all the checks are done, it’s time to complete your purchase. If you need help with financing, Savvy is here to help. With our tailored car loan solutions and expertise in the automotive finance sector, we can guide you through the financing process, ensuring you secure the best loan option that suits your needs and financial circumstances. Get a quote 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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