The car purchase

Travelling through Australia with your own car is simply THE best way to enjoy the country whilst at the same time regaining your liberty. However.. the auto purchase is a very difficult affair that requires lots of attention, a bit of perseverance, and then more some!! Here are the most important points you should consider before going ahead. If you are attentive it just might prevent you from falling flat on your face!

What kind of car?

If you would like to buy a car you should answer the following questions. How many people? & for how long? Where do you want to go? & where will you sell the car?
The longer you travel and the more there are of you the cheaper it gets. Your car is your transport to tourist spots and to all of the remote places. It is probably also your bed as well. For every night that you sleep in your car/tent you can save at least $15 on accommodation. If you plan on travelling for longer then for ease of comfort the bigger the better try a campervan or larger van. You might even consider a station wagon and then each night you can erect the tents or just chuck all of your camping stuff onto the front seats and sleep in the back of the car.

For Example : 2 persons in 4 months is 240 nights…… times $15 = $3600.
So, if there are three people and you plan to travel for more than 3 months its worth it to consider a Van.

Something to consider as well with regard is the cost of spare parts & repairs. Do try a Toyota or a Mitsubishi as spare parts are far more easier to come across as opposed to say something like the classical Volkswagen.

What does a car cost? 
Always more than expected. Depending on city, season and salesman the price can vary considerably. If you are in a city such as Sydney it`s generally always more expensive than in a country town. Yes Sydney is probably the worst city to buy a car. Most people rush the car purchase process soon after their arrival and buy a Campervan for $5000 which they are only ever going to be able to re-sell for $2000.

The Australian summers are the most popular for backpackers to visit Oz. Corresponding this heavy demand prices also rise at this time. If you purchase throughout winter you will almost always get away with a better buy price as many people simply remain sitting on their cars (the key is to negotiate!)

Negotiate! You should always try to… as each persons character is different. Someone may want to rip you off yet the next may be just glad to finally get rid of his car. Try to check out different cars to ensure you can get a comparison on what your money can buy.

You can get an old Stationwagon from 1983 starting price from $1000! & an older Campervan starting price from $2000.


In nearly each Hostel and backpackercenter you’ll find Noticeboards where travellers search for or try to sell their car. These are usually cars that have circled Australia about 30 times already. So yes, they may look a bit shabby. So be careful & watch out! Let a friend who knows something about it help you to make the final selection. Perhaps you may decide to register yourself with the NRMA before buying a car (in NSW) and let them check the car for you. The good thing is that the camping gear and equipment is often part of the package accompanying the car or alternatively it may be converted for sleeping! There are also markets where backpackers offer their cars. In Sydney for example you can try “King Cross Car Market” on Ward Avenue in King Cross.

Car dealer: 
You find addresses and offers of car dealers in the newspaper “Trading post” or in the “motoring section” of the Sunday newspapers, you can also try the Internet as well as you will find their advertisements in the Hostels. Parramatta Road (direction due west) has the largest percentile of used-car dealers in Sydney. Or try Flemington Car Market on a Sunday. 

The car market booms. With over 100,000 Backpackers in Australia each year cars are sold, cars break down, get repaired and then sold off again. Those who always make money with it are the salesmen that buy the cars cheaply, “fix” ’em and sell them again. So, no matter how good the car looks from the outside, check it through! How does the engine sounds? How does it drive? Are the tires worn out? Does the steering wheel play? Does it make any squealing noises? Does the engine start with first time and without any strange noises?
Ensure you have someone with you that knows something about cars. Beware of those used car dealers as most are sharks that are out to try & take away as much of your hard earned cash as possible!

Private sales: 
You will find offers in the newspaper “Trading Post”, as well as in the “motoring section” of the Sunday newspapers. A very good possibility is it to procure a car from a local. The likelihood is that these cars have most probably been dealt with better & without the car yard mark up should ensure you better value for your money. Always still check the car thoroughly.

Open your eyes and ears! Sometimes people place their cars somewhere visible with a price and a telephone number… another possibility. Ask travellers you meet whether they want to sell their car… perhaps they don’t know about their luck yet 🙂 Some people even go the airport with a sign and intercept people that need to get rid of their car in the next two days to leave the country..if not some of them just let it stand somewhere unsold!! (Unbelievable yet true)!

Free online car market for travellers 


Each state or territory of Australia has different rules and conditions with regards to registering your car.

Generally: If you want to register a car you need a “ROADWORTHY inspection report” . This is only a security check of the brakes and whether there are still 4 roadworthy tyres on the car. It is not a mechanical inspection. The ROADWORTHY CERTIFICATE is pink (pink slip) & proves the car doesn’t need any necessary repairs in order to deem it safe to be out on the road. If it is white (white slip), then it needs safety repairs which are itemised. Every car that is driven in Australia must be registered. Normally the registration is paid every 12 months. In some states you can register your car for periods of 3, 6 or 12 months. The costs for the registration (depending upon car and state) might vary between $500-800 for 12 months.

Insurance: If your car is registered, then it has a “Third Party Personal Insurance”. In some states the “Personal Insurance” is included in the registration fees – in some not. You cannot register your car without this basic insurance. If you are implicated in a car accident this insurance (pays for injured victims) but not the guilty driver. Don’t drive a car without registration and basic insurance,since you risk a high punishment and you are made liable for anyinjured persons along with any damaged property!

The “Third Party Property Insurance” is a possible additional insurance. This one covers the property of others.


  1. Roadworthy certificate
  2. Registration, & also
  3. Third Party Personal Insurance

During my stay in Australia, I heard so many glaring stories and even experienced such with my closest friends.. A friend put his good Van ($5000) into a curve on the side of the road in a drunken state and got only $300 for the gearbox. Another friend bought a good-looking Stationwagon for $1900 from a car dealer after arriving in Australia & then on the return trip to the Hostel it simply konked out! She paid $300 for the repair and started heading up the Coast. Before getting to Surfers Paradise the car stopped again but this time never to be repaired again.. She got only $200 for the body alone! So after two weeks in Australia she had already lost $2000 and worked on a farm for the next 3 months to pay it off. (Shit happens). Each car purchase can propose a risk yet also at the same time has also something to do with luck.

Take care with: 

  • too expensive cars ($5000 for an old Toyota Hiace Campervan is definitely too much!
  • damaged cars! Check it through & through, & be thorough!
  • the registration! How long is the car still registered for? Is it actually still registered?
  • Is the name in the passport of the salesman the same as on the registration papers?
  • an older car should have clocked up at least 200,000 kilometers. Australia is a large country and a good engine can still be roadworthy even after 200,000 km clocked up on the speedometer.

Anyone selling their car is always going to try & sell it for as much as possible. Be aware of this, watch out, and ALWAYS negotiate. You need only point out the faults however minor to the salesman & offer a lower price. For example: he wants $2500 for his Stationwagon.. Say:Your registration runs out in 2 months, therefore I must spend $700 for new rego plus and another $300 for new tyres! That will cost me an extra $1000 so therefore I can only give you $1500. You can negotiate in this way with all sales, be it private or car yard salesmen.

It is the Australian Automobile Association & it has a different name in each state & territory (eg. RACV in Victoria).
And it’s great that it exists! If you are under age 26 the membership costs you just $50 for one year. This also entitles you to free maps of all the large Cities and all of Australia. Furthermore they can also help you free of charge if your car breaks down! Whether it be minor or major they can fix it for you on the spot or if they can?t they’ll fix it enough to get you to the next garage. If that cannot be done they will tow you anywhere within the next 20 Kilometers -free of charge! A friends van had to get towed altogether more than 15 times!
So in any case it`s worth it!!


Don’t lose the courage while looking for the right car. It’s really cool to travel Australia with your own car! If you shouldn’t find a car- do not worry: try to get a lift with other travellers! Lot’s of people look out for travel mates to share costs and fun with. It saves you money and stress as well and besides you could find some really good friends!
Thus – > !!check out the notice boards!! 

If you do not want to buy a car, then it might be of interest for you to rent a car

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