Should you buy a backpacker’s car in Australia? Why?

It depends. You may only have limited time and money or you may want to keep yourself only to the cities. In these cases, it is not wise to buy a car. However, if you love long road trips and off-beat locations, then a backpacker’s car may be perfect for you. Instead of renting a car for a long duration, it is a lot cheaper to buy a car. You get almost half the resell value and even the full value if you are lucky!  It gives you the freedom to travel without any strings attached. You can go to uncharted territories which are not accessible by conventional transport. You can discover unspoiled natural wonders and secluded beaches. With the flexibility to sleep anywhere, you can save considerably on accommodation. And you get to sleep beneath the stars! A backpacker’s car gives you the luxury to travel on your own terms.

Where can you buy a backpacker’s car in Australia?

There are primarily three ways in which you can by a backpacker’s car in Australia.

1. Backpacker Car Dealers:

Pros:

  • They offer a buyback guarantee. This means that you don’t have to look around for customers to sell your car.
  • Unlike usual car dealers, they only focus on backpacker’s cars. So they specialize in this business and sell only verified cars.
  • Some of the established dealers offer support in insurance and registration.

Cons:

  • These dealers only provide 40-50% buyback value. This means that if you buy the car for a month, its value depreciates by 50%. You will get a better price for the same car in an open market.

These are some of the well-established backpacker car dealers. Some of them have offices in all the major cities of Australia.

  • Travellers Autobarn
  • Cars 4 Backpackers
  • Travel Wheels
  • Backpackers Auto Sales

2. Backpacker car markets

Pros:

  • It is easy to sell your car if you didn’t buy it with a buyback guarantee.
  • A lot of options to choose from while buying.
  • You can get a good deal on a car from someone who is leaving Australia soon.

Cons:

  • No verified inspection while buying
  • Considerable fee on selling the car

The largest and the most popular backpacker car market is the Kings Cross Car Market in Sydney.

3. Buying privately

You can buy a car privately through an ad in the newspaper or on online notice boards. You can also find backpackers’ notice to sell their car in hostel notice boards. While buying privately, you have to make sure what you are buying. If you are unsure, then hire a mechanic to do an inspection. Gumtree, Backpacker Car Club, and Trading Post are the most popular online notice boards in Australia to buy cars privately.

Legalities

Pink Slip: If you are buying a car, make sure that it has a pink slip. A pink slip signifies that the car doesn’t need any necessary repair. If it is a white slip, then the vehicle needs some necessary repairs.

Green Slip: If your car is legally registered, then it must have a green slip. A green slip is an insurance provided by a third party which covers any personal injury.

Insurance: A green slip insures your personal damage, but not your car’s. If you want to be on the safe side and avoid any expense on repairs, you can insure your car. Generally, the established car dealers, as well as the ones at backpackers’ car market, help you obtain insurance.

Registration: Every car running on Australian soil must be registered. While purchasing the car, you have to transfer the registration to your name. Each state has its own website where you can apply for registration.

Documents required for registration:

  • Copy of Passport
  • Temporary address (can be anything- a hostel or a couchsurfing host)
  • Driving license
  • Pink slip (not needed in Western Australia)

Things to consider before buying a car

  • Whether the seller offers a buyback guarantee. If you don’t want to take the trouble to sell the car yourself, you should buy the car from a dealer who offers buyback guarantee.
  • Condition of the car and whether it is inspected and verified. You don’t want your car break down in the middle of the trip. Take a test drive and better, get it inspected by a mechanic.
  • Type of car– Wagons are popular among backpackers who want a cheap car which has enough space to sleep in. You can also consider buying a van, which is more comfortable, but more expensive as well.
  • Cost– Wagons come anywhere between $2000 to $6000+, while the vans and campervans cost anywhere between $6000 to $18000+.

Things to consider while driving

  • There are roadside services in each state which helps you by providing breakdown assistance and by providing information about driving in Australia, driving rules, buying and selling information, insurance, and various other things. They take a yearly fee for providing you this service.
  • There are vast stretches of uninhabited land in Australia. So make sure that you have stocked up your fuel, food, and water supply before leaving a town.
  • In Australia, traffic moves on the left and they measure distance in kilometres!
  • During the rainy season, many areas are flooded and the roads are blocked. Before leaving make sure that the blocks are not blocked to bad weather.

Selling the car

If you have bought the car from the dealer who offered buyback guarantee, then it’s fine. If you haven’t, then you can adopt the following ways to sell your car:

  • Write a note about your car with some pictures and pin it to the notice board of all the hostels. Add your phone number and date so that the buyer can reach out to you.
  • Post in online forums and online notice boards.
  • If you leaving Australia and don’t have much time, you have to sell them at the backpackers’ car markets. You will not get the best price, but at least you are getting something.

If you are lucky, you can sell the car at the same price that you bought, or sometimes even greater!