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Understand your car search result

When you do a used car search on the PPSR, you will get a search certificate with your results. This page helps to you read and understand those results.

On this page

Does the car have money owing on it?

Look at your search certificate under the heading ‘PPSR Registration Details’:

Sample VIN search certificate with no PPSR registrations
No PPSR registrations

If your certificate says:

‘There is no security interest or other registration kind registered on the PPSR against the serial number in the search criteria details.’

This means no one has a current registered security interest (such as a secured car loan) on the PPSR against the VIN or chassis number of the car.

You will be protected if someone tries to repossess the car (as long as you did your PPSR search at the right time).

Download a sample search certificate:

Sample VIN search certificate with PPSR registrations
PPSR registrations

If your certificate shows any ‘PPSR registration’ details, this means someone has registered their security interest on the PPSR. This means someone might have the right to repossess the car. The details of the secured party (generally the person who claims to be owed the debt such as the bank or financier) will appear here.

If your search does show a PPSR registration against a car you want to buy, you should talk to the seller about having the registration removed before you buy it. Going ahead with the purchase can put you at risk of having your car repossessed if the seller still owes money on it.

Download a sample search certificate:

PPSR registration vs vehicle registration

The PPSR search certificate uses the word ‘registration’ in different ways, which can sometimes be confusing.

1. PPSR registration details refers to any security interests registered on the PPSR against the car.

2. State vehicle registered and Registration expiry refers to the car's road registration (or rego) through your local road transport authority.

​​​​​​​Other information about the car

When you do a search on the PPSR, you should receive additional information from the National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System (NEVDIS) which has details about the car's:

  • written-off status

  • stolen status

  • registration number and expiry

  • make, model and colour of car and

  • if it's part of the faulty Takata airbag recall.

This information is recorded by state and territory road transport authorities and police departments. The information you receive from NEVDIS isn't managed by us and we aren't able to provide further details or correct mistakes.

Is the car recorded as written off?

Look at your search certificate under the heading ‘Additional Motor Vehicle Details—NEVDIS’. If it says:

  • Not recorded as written off - it hasn't been recorded by NEVDIS as written off.
     
  • Statutory write-off - the car isn’t safe to drive.
     
  • Repairable write-off - depending on state/territory laws, the car may be able to be repaired, re-registered and driven if it passes a safety and identity check.

Your search result may also provide you a written-off code. You can use this code to understand the type of damage that has occurred to the car.

For more information about the write-off you can also talk to the seller of the vehicle. The seller can contact their local road transport authority if something is wrong with the written-off details recorded.

See Concerned about a used car search result for more information.

Is the car recorded as stolen?

Look at your search certificate under heading ‘Additional Motor Vehicle Details—NEVDIS’:

  • Not recorded as stolen - it hasn't been recorded on NEVDIS as stolen.
     
  • If it gives any stolen vehicle indicators (engine, vehicle and/or plate), it is possible it has been stolen. Contact your state or territory police department to find out more information.

Stolen data is recorded by state and territory police departments. It is important to be aware however that just because a car is not recorded as being stolen, doesn't mean it isn't. While it may seem unfair, if you buy a car from a private buyer which is later found to be stolen, you may lose both the vehicle and the money you paid for it.

See Concerned about a used car search result for more information.

For tips to minimise your risks visit the Car Safe website.

Is the car on the Takata airbag recall list?

Look at your search certificate under heading ‘Vehicle Recall Information’:

If it says 'the vehicle is identified as being affected by the compulsory Takata airbag recall', check if the airbag has been replaced at Is My Airbag Safe.

If there's no information or more than one car is listed

If your PPSR car search returned no additional information under NEVDIS, this may have been due to:

  • An incorrect VIN or chassis number being searched on - check you've entered the serial number correctly and selected the correct serial number type (i.e. VIN, chassis or manufacturer's number).

  • The vehicle has either never been road registered or has been unregistered for a long period of time. Contact your state or territory road transport authority for more information.

  • The NEVDIS database being unavailable at the time of search (we'll always notify you on our website and on the PPSR when this happens). You will need to do another search when it is back online to obtain this information.

Note: even if your search does not return NEVDIS information, it will still provide you with information about any security interests registered against the serial number of the vehicle you did your search on.

Multiple NEVDIS results

If there’s more than one vehicle under ‘Additional Motor Vehicle Details—NEVDIS’, it means the chassis or manufacturer number of the vehicle isn’t unique. This can occur with specialised vehicles such as bulldozers and trailers.

It may help to check the vehicle make and model to see which description matches your vehicle. You may also want to do a search on the grantor of the security interest.

See Concerned about a used car search result for more information.

​​​​​​​Save your search results

The PPSR search certificate is a legal record. Keep it safe in case you ever need to use it as evidence of the search result.

You can either have the certificate emailed to you or save it as a PDF when you view it on screen. The search fee covers both options.

You can also get a copy of your search certificate at a later date at no additional cost.

PPSR case studies

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A case study about Sarah, who purchases a vehicle that had money owing on it from a private seller. Learn about the importance of searching the PPSR before buying a used car.

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A case study about Yosef, who purchases a used car that was a repairable write-off. Find out how important it is to search the PPSR before buying a used car.

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A case study about Noah, who found a private car listed on the internet that he is interested in buying, which turns out to be stolen.

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