Check before you buy your first second-hand car

A person holding up a phone in the foreground, while a teen in the background is depicted driving a car. The text 'Check before you buy' accompanies the scene, emphasizing the importance of verification before making a purchase or decision

Are you or someone you know a new driver and looking to buy their first car? If you are buying a second-hand car privately, you should complete a $2 PPSR car search. A quick search will make sure the car:

  • does not have existing finance owing
  • has not been reported as written off
  • has not been reported as stolen

What does this mean?

Finance still owing

If you buy a car and there is a prior security interest, it is possible for the car to be repossessed, leaving you out of pocket.


It is possible that the car has been reported stolen. If a search identifies that the car has been stolen, contact your state or territory police department to find out more information.

Written off

Cars may be written off if they have been in a previous accident or have been impacted by natural disasters, such as floods and hailstorms. Cars can either have a statutory write off or a repairable write off.

  • Statutory write-off
    Statutory write-offs are unable to be repaired and can only be used as spare parts. A car is generally classed as a statutory write-off because it would be unsafe to repair it. This might be due to structural damage (like a bent chassis) or extensive damage.
    If you buy a car that's a statutory write-off, you won't be able to repair it or get it road registered.
  • Repairable write-off
    Repairable write-offs are generally classed as a write-off because the repairs needed are likely to cost more than the market value of the car (like hail damage). In some states, you can’t register a written-off vehicle even if it has been repaired, and some insurers will not fully cover repairable write-offs.

How to do a car search on the PPSR

To do a vehicle search on the PPSR, you will need the VIN or Chassis number of the car you’re interested in and a credit card. The car's vehicle identification number (VIN) is 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. It can often be found on the driver’s side of the dashboard, where the driver’s side door latches, or under the bonnet at the front of the engine mount.

Enter the VIN and your payment details, and you will be presented with the available details about the vehicle on the next screen.

Once the search is complete, you’ll  get a certificate with your results. Learn more about understanding your car search result.

Search today

The PPSR can protect you and your loved ones when buying a second-hand car. Check before you buy.

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