This blog post is about cars in Australia. Buy or rent a car? We have dealt with this question extensively and would like to share our experience with you. We already rented a camper two years ago, with which we drove from Brisbane to Cairns and this time we decided to buy a car. With our Schrosti (Schrotti & Rosti :D) we drove from Sydney to Exmouth and back to Perth.
Now we will deal with the topic of renting a car or rather buying one. Why did we decide to buy a car and when does it make sense to rent a car?
The advantage of renting a car is that you can just get the car and enjoy your australia adventure without worrying about anything. It is possible to rent an additional insurance at the camper rental company. Then you are protected in case something happens to your car. No matter if it is the windshield or something else.
Buy/sell: In addition, you don’t have to deal with the purchase, the possibility of the damage of the car and in the end of your adventure with the sale. You’ll get the perfect camper and don’t have to worry if you’ll get it sold again or even if it is getting damaged.
That sounds great, does it not? But it also has its disadvantages. It is very expensive and you are very limited in time. Especially if you take out the supplementary insurance, which any person will do to be on the safe side. That’s why expensive comprehensive insurance is often offered by the rental companies. But also the age of the driver plays a role (under 24) or whether a second driver should be registered. These are all extra costs you have to think about in advance. In addition, the small printed things in the contract play an important role. If the fully comprehensive insurance was booked in addition, you think it’s easy to get started, right? Well, unfortunately it’s not that easy. In our contract it was small printed written, for example, that wild animal accidents (kangaroos are unfortunately quite stupid and like to run across the street. Especially at night!) have to be paid by yourself. Besides it was forbidden to drive after dusk. If then something would have happened, the costs would have to be carried also. Besides we had informed ourselves this time also again concerning a Campers and it came additional costs (Outback Fees, which are not really in the Outback, because we drove along the coast) for the west coast. For our trip the camper would have cost us 5000 Australian dollars for 2 months with all enumerated costs. That’s how much the backpacker cars cost. There you have to take a risk (which we will talk about now), but the chances are very good to sell the car for the same price.
That’s why we recommend you to rent a camper if you really have limited time. If you come to Australia within a “short” holiday (ap. 1 month), it is not really worth buying a car. But if you are here longer than 1.5 months, we would definitely prefer to buy one.
If you have reached the point like us where you would rather buy a car than rent it, it is worth reading on now. 🙂
Where to buy a car? That’s really hard to answer. Actually you can find a car everywhere. We recommend to browse Gumtree and Facebook groups. However, we believe it is particularly good in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, where the choice is one of the largest.
Before buying a car you should have to deal with at the Rego (Registration). There are different Regos with different regulations from state to state. For all Regos except the West Australian Rego an inspection of the car has to be done before the registration can be extended. Depending on the registration, the car is usually registered for three months, six months or one year. This means that you will most likely not be buying a junk truck, but also that you will have to drive the car to the inspection when the Rego expires and you may have to pay additional costs for repairs etc.. The inspection is comparable to the German TÜV. It is also worth mentioning that the engine is not getting checked during the necessary inspection. This means that despite a previous inspection you have the risk to buy a car with an engine damage. So have it checked by the mechanic in any way.
You also have to go to the Department of Transport in person to register the car. This means that you must be in the state to re-register the car or be in that state within 14 days of purchase. At WA Rego, the inspection is omitted. The Rego can be extended online without problems and the re-registration is possible by post-way, so you can do this from anywhere. This is the best, especially if you are not sure where you will be in the next months and where you want to sell the car. Or even if you, like us, drive from Sydney to Western Australia and want to sell the car there without any problems.
The most common backpacker cars are campers and 4WD’s. The second named are four-wheel drive cars, which are easy to drive through sand dunes and off-road. Campers are of course bigger and more comfortable and there are even 4wd campers. 4wd’s are mostly smaller, are often sold with roof tents and are mainly driven on the west coast. It’s hard to say what makes more sense. We were on our way to Exmouth and we could have made all our stops with a campervan. It gets more critical further up towards Darwin. There are many 4WD routes and therefore we would claim that a 4WD makes more sense. What do we like better? Hard to say, but if we could decide again we would probably prefer a camper because of the comfort. Or a Troopy with a rooftop tent (unfortunately a bit more expensive).
During the car inspection there are also some things to consider. So if you have found THE car, we recommend to drive to the mechanic and let it check. Nevertheless you can’t expect to get a good car for a small price. Don’t be surprised about a high number of kilometres on the speedometer. The distances in Australia are simply extremely long and you can also find a super car with about 300000km on the speedometer. It is important that the exhaust is not so rusty that it falls off, the brakes work and the car has no oil leak. But also ask for papers, if there are invoices for the repairs. You should also check if the tires will have to be replaced, if the air conditioning really works properly, if the cigarette lighter is charging your mobile phone without any problems and if the lights are working :). We are also not car professionals and were very glad that we found a competent mechanic. You can check online if the car is stolen, how long the REGO is still valid and if there are still unpaid invoices for the car. Because you’ll buy the unpaid invoices with the car. So have a look online at the respective Department of Transport. 🙂
As already mentioned above, when renting a camper, one advantage is that it seems that you are carefree on the way. But you can also secure yourself with a purchased car and travel carefree. The Rego always includes Third Party Insurance, regardless of which state the car is registered in. This means that personal injuries are insured as soon as the car is registered. We have also taken out Third Party Property Insurance in case of an accident for which we are responsible. So the damage of the other vehicle would be covered and you wouldn’t fall into a huge mountain of debt. In addition, theft was also insured. A fully comprehensive insurance is not worthwhile in our opinion for an old backpacker car. We would definitely recommend becoming a member of an automobile club. We didn’t need to use it, but who wants to stay in the middle of nowhere and pay a lot of money for a towing service? We were at the RAC. For the whole year we have paid 180 AUD and the new owners of Schrosti can use this now simply.
Plan enough time for the car sale and with a little luck you can get out at +-0. That was our goal and we just made it. You should plan at least 2 weeks to sell the car without stress. Of course that depends on where you are at the moment. We were also afraid that we would have to sell Schrosti far below the price, because after 1.5 weeks we only had two visits. The third one was fortunately successful and Schrosti was gone faster than expected 😀 We think that 2-2.5 weeks is a good guideline. Besides you must consider that many do not have the money immediately and can drag themselves out then so 2-3 days. We had the money given to us in cash to be on the safe side and kept a passport as a “deposit” to be sure that our buyers don’t jump off at the last moment. Nevertheless we were very, very tense. Back to cash or bank transfer: We would say: cash. So you are sure. There are a few tricks to withdraw the money or interrupt the transfer. That was a little too risky for us. The disadvantage is that you can only transfer to an Australian account and that has to be opened first. Unfortunately we now have everything in cash and have to make sure that we get a good exchange rate. Another possibility would be: one half in cash, the other half via bank transfer. This way you can be sure that no one wants to cheat you. Oh, and one more thing: if someone wants to send a courier and insists on sending you the money via Paypal and wants to buy the car directly without a visit and doesn’t want to pay cash, it’s most likely a fraud! But there are always exceptions.