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Before you buy a new car, you need to be aware that car sellers will display a ‘cash’ price and a ‘total’ price on their vehicles. Make sure you get the total price, so you know exactly what you are expected to pay.
Regardless of the type of warranty you have (or even after a manufacturer’s warranty expires), you still have protection under the Australian Consumer Law if you have a problem with your car.
When you purchase a product or service and you find it has a defect, the warranty sets out what you can claim and how you can claim it.
All new cars come with a manufacturer’s warranty covering any faults and defects which occur with the vehicle. You should review the warranty carefully, as it contains details such as the length of the warranty period vary.
If repairs are required during the warranty period, we suggest you take the vehicle back to the authorised dealer.
Many dealers will tell you that you need have the car serviced with their authorised dealer or it may affect your “new car warranty” unless your warranty specifics that you use a specific repairer you can take your car to any qualified independent mechanic without affecting the warranty, provided:
- the work is done according to its conditions (manufacturer’s specifications), and
- genuine parts and lubricants are used.
The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) and RACV can provide more information on mechanics.
Most dealers will try to offer you an extended warranty at the point of sale or at the end of a manufacturer’s warranty. These warranties extend the coverage provided in the original manufacturer’s warranty, usually at an additional cost. Note that extended warranties are optional.
Extended warranties may restrict your choice of mechanic and parts used or lock you into a service schedule with a specific dealer or group of dealerships.
If you purchase a used car which is less than 10 years old and has travelled less than 160,000 kilometres a licensed car dealer must provide you with a statutory warranty.
* Note that the age of the car is determined by the date stamped on its build plate, usually found between the engine and passenger compartments.
How long does a statutory warranty last?
A statutory warranty lasts for three months or 5000 kilometres after purchase, whichever occurs first. The car dealer must repair any faults covered during the warranty period in order to ensure the car is in a reasonable condition for its age.
Even after the statutory warranty expires, you still have rights under the Australian Consumer Law. You can rely on these rights if there is a problem with your car. However, the level of protection will depend on things such as the car’s age and condition.
Does the statutory warranty transfer?
A licensed car dealer provides a statutory warranty only as part of the contract. If you sell your car privately before the three months or 5,000 kilometres have passed, the warranty does not transfer to the new owner.
The car dealer is obliged to list any faults not covered by the statutory warranty on a defect notice. These faults could be costly to repair so be sure you receive a copy of this and read it carefully before committing to buying the car.
A statutory warranty does not cover defects relating to:
- any item listed on a defect notice with a reasonable estimate of how much it will cost to repair
- accidental damage that occurred after delivery of the vehicle
- damage caused by misuse or negligence by a driver after delivery of the vehicle
A statutory warranty also does not cover defects occurring with:
- radios, cassette players, CD players, MP3 and MP4 players, and docks
- DVD players and video display panels
- telephone and in-car telephone kits
- global positioning systems (GPS), satellite navigation systems and other computerised navigation systems
- power outlets, including cigarette lighter sockets
- cigarette lighters
- car aerials
- non-standard alarms
- non-standard body hardware
- non-standard keyless entry systems and remote keypads
- tools other than jacks and wheel braces
- light globes, sealed beam lights and non-standard fog lights
- keyless entry systems and remote keypads that are not standard to the car.
- Vehicles exempt from statutory warranties
- A statutory warranty does not apply to:
- commercial vehicles
- cars sold at a public auction.
Parts and repairs
If your car needs repairs while it is covered by statutory warranty, you should contact the dealer you purchased the car from. If you arrange repairs before doing so, your statutory warranty may become void and you may have to bear the costs.
When having the car repaired, second-hand parts can be used so long as they are suitable and serviceable. The time it takes to repair your car is added to the warranty period.
If your car cannot be driven due to a warranty defect, the trader must pay any towing costs. However, the car dealer or mechanic are not obliged to provide a replacement/ hire car while yours is being repaired. If a courtesy vehicle is provided, check it is insured adequately.