Buying a Car in Australia for backpackers

Buying a car is probably the most important decision you'll have to make on your working holiday in Australia. With this page, we will fill you in on everything you need to know about buying a car in Australia including:



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Why Buy a Car in Australia?

Having your own car gives you the freedom to travel where you want in Australia, within in reason, of course. It can also come in handy when it comes to finding work, especially second year visa work. Many farming and fruit picking employers will prefer that you have your own car, as you may have to work in different locations each day.

Having your own car also allows you to travel to places other backpackers without their own car can’t get to. This means that you can get off the beaten path and face less competition from other backpackers when it comes to finding work. 

Registering a Vehicle: What You Need to Know

When buying a car in Australia, it’s important to know how the registration (or “Rego” as the Aussie often call it) system works. In Australia it is the law that every car on the road should be registered. In most states, the rego fee will also include a minimum third-party personal insurance, which is compulsory in Australia.

If you're buying a car that already has rego, then you will have to pay a transfer fee within 14 days buying the car, this usually costs around $16-$21, depending on the state you are in.

BACKPACKER TIP: Different states have different renewal systems, with varying prices, so it’s a lot less hassle to buy a car that’s registered in the state you’re in, unless it registered for the year.

 Each state has its own government website where you can look up fees and other rego and insurance information. Do your research before you buy and check out the website for whatever state you plan on buying your car in as they all have different rules and requirements:

New South Wales: Roads and Maritime Services (RTA) 

Victoria: VicRoads 

Queensland: Department of Transport and Main Roads 

Northern Territory: Motor Vehicle Registry 

Western Australia: Driver and Vehicle Services 

South Australia: Transport Vehicle Registration

Australia Capital Territory: Rego.act

Tasmania: Transport Tasmania  

Roadside Assistance

Buying roadside assistance in AUstralia could be a good investment. A yearly basic membership starts at around $150, but you will have to pay extra of you need to be towed from a remote area.

You can buy roadside assistance in any state in Australia and use it anywhere in Australia, as all states have a reciprocal agreement between them - so it really is worth buying! Check out the roadside assistance motorclubs for each state below:

New South Wales and ACT: National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) 

Victoria: Royal Automotive Club of Victoria (RACV) 

Queensland: Royal Automobile Club or Queensland (RACQ) 

Northern Territory: Automobile Association of the Northern Territory (AANT) 

Western Australia: Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) 

South Australia: Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) 

Tasmania: Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT)  

Where to Buy a Car

There are a number of different ways you can go about buying a used car in Australia:

Backpacker Car Dealers:

There are some used car dealers in Australia who specialise in selling backpacker cars. Most are only based in the bigger cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin, but the best thing about them is that they usually offer buyback guarantees. This means that they are guaranteed to buy your car back off you once you’ve finished with it (for an agreed lower price, of course.) The best thing is, you don't actually have to sell the car to them, so you could still sell your car privately for a lot more if you can. The most popular backpacker car dealers include:

Travellers Autobarn 

Travel Wheels 

Cars 4 Backpackers 

Backpackers Auto Sales  

Regular Used Car Dealers:

There are plenty of used car dealers in just about any big town or city in Australia. With these, take your time and don't rush into buying the first car you see and don't forget to haggle with them.

Backpacker Car Markets:

Backpacker car markets can be another great way to buy a used backpacker car. Some of these markets even have onsite staff who can assist you with information about registration, insurance and what type of car you should buy. Popular backpacker car markets include Sydney Travellers Car Market and Kings Cross Car Market.

Buying Privately:

You can buy a car privately through hostel notice boards, online noticeboards like Backpacker Car ClubGumtree or other private ads like Trading Post. While you can find good bargains buying privately, you really need to know what you’re doing too. If in doubt, pay a mechanic to come with you can check it out and always take it for a test spin!

BACKPACKER TIP: When buying privately, it's worth checking the Personal Properties Securities Register, so that you can check if a vehicle has been stolen or has money owed on it – you wouldn’t want to shell out thousands for a car only to have repossessed!

 What Type of Car to Buy

The most popular models in Australia are Ford and Holden, so spare parts for these will be much easier to come by. However, Toyota and Mitsubishi are also very good, in fact they're probably better in terms of reliability and affordability, just don’t let the Aussies hear you say that!

Wagons (or estates) are the cheaper option (instead of vans) if you plan on buying a car you can sleep comfortably in. They can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000. A good backpacker van should cost anywhere between $8,000 and $15,000 - so it really depends on how much you want to spend!

Driving in Australia

Driving in Australia is pretty straight forward, but there are a few important things you need to take into condieration:



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