After months of working hard, you’ve saved enough of your hard earned cash to buy your backpacker car. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time as it can be make or break for your trip. It’s a critical decision that will have a massive influence on how the rest of your journey goes.
I spent a long time searching for my backpacker car. I went through the buying and selling process so want to share what wisdom I have. Here are a few tips when buying a backpacker car:
Take your time
Start looking early. Use sites like Car Sales (download the app), Gumtree, join the Backpacker Car Australia Facebook group. These are quick and easy to do, only take a second and can give you an idea of the types of things on the market and also what you will be able to afford. There’s nothing worse than feeling pressured to buy the car because you have a fixed time schedule for your trip. Buying the wrong car can really disrupt your trip if it breaks down two weeks into your trip.
Pop the hood
When looking at the potential backpacker car, don’t be shy to open the bonnet. Even if you don’t know what you are doing, look for the basics. Check there is oil by looking at the dipstick, check there is coolant and that it is clean in color, not cloudy. This can be a sign of more serious problems. If these things aren’t ok, it suggests they haven’t looked after the car.
Test all you can on the drive
Don’t just drive it down the road, take your time, test the air conditioning, the windows, wipers, CD player. Try all the gears and go through some turns to see if it drives smoothly. When selling my backpacker car, some of the people didn’t even dare to drive the car and just asked me to take them for a spin in it. Remember that a lot of cars will have serious problems that sellers will try to hide at all costs.
Don’t buy from backpackers
This is not a rule of thumb, however if you buy from a backpacker, the car is likely to have had many previous owners. It wont have been looked after as well and it will have done many kilometres. I said above to join the Backpackers group (good for info) but I would recommend buying from a private seller or dealership. The benefits of buying a backpacker car is getting all the camping equipment ready. However I bought from a dealership and can tell you it is very easy to build your own bed in the back.
Buy a Japanese Backpacker Car
Speaking with mechanics in Melbourne, they advised me to buy Japanese cars as these are the most reliable. If you just look on the streets you will see that most of the Australians stick by this rule too. Toyotas, Nissans, Mitsubishis and Subaru cars are everywhere. I would recommend this too, as if you have a problem, it will be much easier for mechanics to fix your car due to familiarity and the ease to get Japanese parts. And when you are broken down somewhere in the outback you’ll thank your lucky stars that you can be fixed and on your way quickly.
Buy with RWC and REGO
I bought my car in the state of Victoria, so required a Road Worthy Certificate (RWC) in order to transfer the Registration (REGO) to me. RWC is a test carried out by a mechanic to ensure the car is healthy enough to be on the road. There are many cars sold as is, without REGO or RWC. I don’t recommend this unless you really know your stuff about cars and can vouch that the car is healthy. If not, you risk paying a cheap price but getting a backpacker car that isn’t going to make it down the next road.
You will benefit from buying a car with a long REGO left on it too. If you buy a car with 1 month left, you will have to pay to renew it. I purchased a car with 11 months left, so when selling my car, it still had enough months to be attractive.
Know where your end destination will be
Due to the different rules in different states you may want to plan where you will end up and sell your car. I purchased my car in Victoria and ended my trip there too. Which meant that I knew I would need a RWC to transfer the REGO to the new buyer. If you buy in VIC but finish in another state, it can be complex to transfer the REGO. Check the rules for each state, as some don’t require RWC and require you to be in the state to register the car.
You’ve worked hard to save your cash, so don’t be shy to negotiate hard in order to get the most from your money. If you buy from a backpacker, they are probably on a time limit and need to get rid of the car. Therefore you should have some bargaining power when purchasing your backpacker car. Start your negotiation low. The seller will most likely have marked it up with the expectation that you will negotiate.
Measure the car
If you plan to sleep in the car, you need to make sure that the car is going to be big enough. If you look at previous backpacker cars, you may see a similar model with beds in the back. This will give you an idea of what can fit in the car. View the car with a tape measure just to make sure.
Selling the car
Post your backpacker car on Facebook, Gumtree and post advert sheets in all of the main hostel noticeboards. Top up the oil and coolants and make sure the car is clean and organised. No one wants to buy a car that looks like a tip.
Never hand over the car until you have received the payment in full. Whether it be by cash or bank transfer. If you receive the payment in cash try to get the buyer to meet you at the bank so that you can put the money in straight away.
Ensure that the REGO has been completed by the buyer and keep your copy signed by them. If the REGO isn’t transferred, you will be liable for all the driving penalties, so ensure that this is done.
I hope this helps a few people on their car decisions. If you enjoyed this blog post, hit that share button.