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Selling a car in VIC

Each state and territory in Australia has its own unique rules and regulations when it comes to selling a used car.

How to sell a car in Victoria is simple if you follow the few rules that apply. Do that and the process will be smooth sailing, ignore them and you could be in for a nightmare and be legally responsible for other people’s traffic fines.

Get a roadworthy

You need to get a current roadworthy certificate (RWC) known in Victoria as a Certificate of Roadworthiness. It’s needed before the registration of a used car can be transferred to a new owner.

Roadworthy certificates can only be obtained from a tester authorised by VicRoads for the purpose. To find the location of the authorised roadworthy testers near you contact VicRoads, either at their website or at one of their offices around the state. You can also identify an accredited tester by the VicRoads plaque, usually displayed outside the workshop.

The only times a roadworthy certificate is not needed are when you transfer ownership to a spouse or domestic partner, a licensed car dealer, or if the car is unregistered. In the latter case, the number plates must be surrendered to VicRoads. Don’t rely on the buyer to do this, remove the plates before you hand over the car and lodge them yourself.

It is possible to do a deal whereby the buyer agrees to get the certificate, and the registration will be suspended until a roadworthy certificate is produced, but it is not a good idea unless you know the buyer and can be absolutely sure they will fulfil their legal requirements including notifying VicRoads of the change of ownership within 14 days. Even then, it’s not recommended.

A Victorian roadworthy certificate remains current for 30 days from the date it was issued.

How much does a roadworthy cost?

The Victorian RWC cost is not fixed as it once was; the industry was de-regulated many years ago, allowing individual testers to charge whatever they decide the fee should be. it can depend on the age, type and condition of the vehicle being tested. 

It’s a good idea to shop around for the best deal, but typically the fee will be between $150 and $200 for a car with no defects.

The cost of a test on a car that has defects, or for any reason isn’t straightforward, can be more.

Bear in mind that testers now have to remove more parts from a car to test it according to the latest VicRoads guidelines, as well as photograph the car in their workshop as proof that the test was legitimate. No wonder the roadworthy certificate cost has spiralled in recent years.

Why get a roadworthy?

To transfer registration of a used car to a new owner VicRoads requires a current roadworthy certificate, but it doesn’t specify who should get it.

But the main reason you should get the certificate yourself before you offer the car for sale, is that it demonstrates to potential buyers that they won’t need to spend more on a roadworthy test and possible repairs after they’ve bought the car.

That said, it’s important to remember that an RWC is not an assessment of the quality or overall condition of the vehicle: It is merely a check of the car’s basic safety functions.

By allowing the buyer to obtain the roadworthy certificate, you are also potentially liable for any parking fines or driving infringements that might be incurred while the car is still officially registered in your name.

Selling a vehicle listed on the written-off register

If your car has been previously damaged in a crash or other incident (flooding, hailstorm, etc) it may have been listed on one of the state or territory Written-Off Vehicle Registers, also known as the WOVR. This doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle cannot be registered again, but it will ring alarm bells with buyers who’ve done their homework. Such vehicles' resale values are often much lower as a result.

As the seller, you are required to inform the buyer if the car you are selling is recorded on a written-off vehicle register in Victoria, or in any other state or territory in Australia.

Do the paperwork

To transfer ownership of a used car in Victoria both the seller and buyer are required to fill out an ‘Application For Transfer of Registration’ form, which can be downloaded from the VicRoads website, or picked up from a VicRoads office. 

If you are the seller, you are required to fill out the ‘Seller’ section of the form, which asks for your details, details of your car, and details of the car’s roadworthy certificate.

The form also includes a handy pre-transfer checklist to make sure you haven’t missed any details.

Keep a copy of the original transfer form and give the original to the buyer.

You are also required to give the buyer a receipt for the car, which confirms the sale, and includes the selling price, your name, the name of the buyer, and identifying details of the vehicle, such as the registration number, VIN number, or engine number.

While it’s the buyer’s responsibility to notify VicRoads of the change of ownership, you can protect yourself by making this notification as the seller. You can establish a personal account on the VicRoads website and use this portal to notify of the details of the change. That removes any chance of the new owner’s indiscretions with the vehicle reflecting on you.

How much is my car worth?

Before advertising your car for sale you should determine its market value. That way you won't rob yourself of possible sales by setting too high a price, or cheating yourself by setting a price that is too low.

A good way to arrive at your price is to find similar vehicles to yours that are advertised and use those prices as a guide, adjusting up and down for things like kilometres travelled, overall condition and options fitted.

But bear in mind that the prices some people are asking for cars is not accurately reflected in the prices that are actually being paid on what is a very volatile current open market.

Preparing your car for sale

A little planning can make selling your car so much easier. Presentation is key, so thoroughly clean your car inside and out and remove any private items before offering it for sale. Touch up any minor stone chips, scratches or blemishes, inflate the tyres to the recommended pressure, and have the service book and ownership papers available for the buyer to inspect.

How and where you photograph the car for the advert is important, too. Try for a clear, clean background and make sure you shoot the car from all angles.

Wording the advert is critical, too. Make sure you mention the kilometres travelled, the general condition, options, and even basic things such as whether the car is a manual or automatic.

You’d be surprised how many adverts lack these basic details and cause potential buyers to simply scroll by.