OzTREKK Ambassadors: How to buy a car in Australia

16 July 2020

Hey everyone! My name’s Kim and I’m in the Master of Occupational Therapy (OT) program at the University of Sydney, and today I want to chat about my experience with buying a car in Australia!

Buying a car is a big decision and there is a lot to consider before investing so much money into something. However, I have been extremely happy with my decision to get a car, as it has provided me with opportunities and flexibility to find work, save time, and do more.

Here are some tips and things to know about purchasing a car in New South Wales (process is similar in most states with some minor differences).

University of Sydney OT student
Easier to get around!

Finding a car

You can buy new at a dealership, but I’m going to cover the steps to buying pre-owned. To get started, here are the sites I looked at:

Rego (aka registration)

“Rego” is the registration of vehicles in Australia. All vehicles in Australia are registered in a state or territory and in the name of the owner of the vehicle.

CTP (Green Slip)

When renewing rego, compulsory insurance (CTP) needs to also be bought from a separate insurance company in NSW. This is known as the green slip and the is insurance that “covers all bodily injury inflicted on a third person in the event of an accident”.

Safety Check (Pink Slip)

For cars that are over 5 years old, a technical check is required to renew rego (sometimes referred to as pink slip or eSafety check). This check is to ensure that the vehicle is safe and passes the required roadworthy standards for registration.

This all sounds really complicated, but what this means for you as the buyer is that vehicles with existing valid rego (the longer the better) would give you more bang for your buck! This also means that if the car has rego on it, you are able to drive off with the car once the rego is transferred to your name. This will make more sense when you read the price breakdown. You also don’t really have to worry about it until you need to renew rego and it will become clearer when the time comes.

Purchasing a pre-owned car

To transfer rego…

1. The seller and the buyer together fill out the Application of Transfer and Notice of Disposal forms.

2. The seller delivers the Notice of Disposal to the NSW Service.

3. The seller provides a receipt showing name, address, buyer’s and seller’s signatures, date of sale, price, plate number, vehicle identification number (VIN) and the registration certificate or other proof that he is the owner.

4. The buyer delivers in-person to the NSW Service Office: The transfer form, the receipt, two documents proving identity, an official proof of address in NSW. You can go to your bank to request a Letter of Introduction.

5. The buyer pays the tax and transfer fee.

Additional insurance

Because the CTP (Green Slip) only insures the bodily injury inflicted on a third person, you may want to consider purchasing additional insurance to cover property damage. From my understanding, there are generally 3 options for coverage (cheapest to most expensive):

  • Third party property damage
  • Third-party fire and theft
  • Comprehensive

I decided to go with the cheapest option (third-party property damage) just to cover my liability for damage caused by my car onto another person’s property. This insurance is not compulsory so it is ultimately your decision to get it or not. I use an Australian insurance comparison website to compare rates from various companies. It has worked well for me in the past, but do your own research to find the best options.

Pre-purchase car inspection

There are various pre-purchased car inspection services available if you feel like you would be more comfortable having professional advice prior to buying the car. Personally, I just gave it a drive and hoped for the best (it turned out alright, but I wouldn’t recommend it). I have had friends who did not get an inspection and shortly after purchasing the car, they were having issues that were over $1000 to fix.

It is important to keep in mind to not just go for the cheapest option, but to go for something that will last you for the duration of your stay.

If paying for an inspection is a bit out of your budget, it would be really helpful to look up some videos to educate yourself on what to look out for, or better yet, if you have a friend that knows a lot about cars, bring them along with you and buy them dinner afterwards!

My car costs

I got a 2008 Nissan Micra, automatic. I bought it when the mileage was about 47k for $5000.

Add on 1 year rego:

  • Certificate of Registration —Registration fee ($67) + Motor vehicle Tax ($219) = $286
  • Compulsory Third Party Personal Injury Insurance (CTP/ Green Slip Certificate): bought through Allianz = $695
  • Pink Slip eSafety Check = $42 

Plus 1 year third-party property damage insurance:

  • Purchased through Budget Direct = $378.21

Grand total = $6401.21 AUD

So there you have it! Hopefully this quick guide is helpful if you decide to purchase a car in Australia/ NSW. If you have any other questions, contact me through my IG!


Would you like to learn more about studying occupational therapy at the University of Sydney? Contact us at rehabsci@oztrekk.com for more information about how you can study in Australia!

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