TOP TIPS: Time to buy a vehicle?

There will be a time when every tradie or apprentice will go on the hunt for a vehicle that suits their wants and needs. The following tips will assist in finding the correct trade vehicle.

They say ‘A tradesperson is only as good as their tools’. The vehicle you select will influence your success or failure (breakdowns, expensive loan repayments, a poor fit for your trade). No matter how big or expensive your box of tools are, they aren’t any good on the side of the road if you can’t make it to the job. You need a reliable fit for purpose trade vehicle that is ready to go.

Fit for purpose vehicle

We see many people that want an off-road beast as opposed to a well-equipped tradies vehicle. Many shopping lists look the same:

  • 4×4;
  • 2-3 inch lift;
  • 33 inch muddies;
  • Light bar;
  • Tough looks.




Sure, you may well be the envy of all your mates wanting to be around your truck, but is that what you need to get your job done? Let’s be honest, you rarely go off-road, and it’s hardly practical when you need a step ladder to grab the extension ladder from the racking.

You should be looking at features like tie downs, ladder rack, tool boxes, canopy, towbar, storage space? If it’s not fitted, what’s the cost of having it all added?

It’s usually far cheaper to buy a vehicle with the setup already installed than having to spend money and time afterward fitting it out.  Can the extra requirements necessary for your trade be added by the seller quickly and within your budget?

Do you need an automatic for lots of city driving? How about getting a diesel for fuel economy and torque? Does the vehicle have enough carrying capacity, and is the towbar rating appropriate? How many cylinders? QLD registration is expensive, so picking a 4 cylinder might save you a considerable amount.

Dealer or private purchase

There are many reasons why you will pick one over the other. Buying private is generally cheaper. There are no salesmen to push you into something you don’t want or need. You can sometimes negotiate a cheaper deal with a private seller especially if you have cash.

Dealers have many positives though. They will give you a tax invoice to enable you to claim costs back through your tax return. You can also claim the GST back if you are an ABN holder that is registered for GST. That’s in effect, a 10% discount off the asking price! You cannot do this with a private sale. Dealers can provide a warranty on the trade vehicle, and although it might not cover everything, it’s a far better option than having nothing. Dealers are also required to sell you a vehicle that is fit for purpose as per the consumer law.

Importantly they also by law, must guarantee the title. There are many vehicles for sale privately that have money owing and/or maybe a repairable write-off. Not to mention a bucket load of vehicles with questionable odometer readings.

Gaining finance is possible on a private purchase if the trade vehicle meets the often strict unsecured loan criteria and usually involves a vehicle inspection before the lender approves the loan. Dealer finance, however, is much easier and often at a cheaper interest rate, and when buying from a highly recognised motor dealer the settlement process will go much quicker and with less hassle.

Budget / Vehicle finance

Have you saved up enough for a cash purchase or do you need finance? If finance is your only option, how is your credit history? If you have any small debts or bad history, you should clear them up before applying for finance. Multiple hits on your credit file will mean less chance of securing a loan at a good rate. The latest crackdown on credit providers has tightened the strings for lenders and brokers, so ensure you give them the best chance in the first instance. Applying with an ABN will give you better options with low or no document quick approval finance often available.

Find a reputable finance broker. Any finance provider that quotes a rate or repayments without tailoring it to your specific situation means you will be paying too much! Shop around, but don’t allow them to credit check you until you are ready to go.


Buying a registered vehicle in QLD requires the seller to have a current safety certificate. If the private seller says, “will sell with a safety certificate” ensure it is done before you place a deposit. How are the brakes, tyres, oil leaks, seatbelts, and windscreen? Some of these can be very expensive so if the seller knows you are definitely buying the vehicle, they will either pay for the repairs or get a dodgy mechanic to write you a slip of paper that’s not worth its ink. Just because they are accredited as an approved inspection station, doesn’t mean they are trustworthy.

  • Does it have a service history with log books? If not, where is it from? Auction? Wholesale?
  • Does it have a spare key?
  • Any accident history?
  • Have you done a PPSR and history check?

PPSR will tell you if it’s been stolen, has finance owing or has been repaired after write- off. For $2.00 it’s an essential check you can do with the vehicle VIN/chassis number on . You can also check for more information like servicing dates and time of sale odometer recordings using websites like and .

  • Are there any airbag recalls outstanding on the vehicle? Ring the manufacturer with the VIN and ensure it’s been repaired if needed. It is illegal for any seller to sell a car in QLD with an outstanding airbag recall.

Another great option is to have the trade vehicle pre-purchased inspected. Most mechanical shops will offer this service, so if you don’t know what you are looking at, its value is irreplaceable.


It might seem a little daunting but speak to mechanics, parents, relatives, friends, colleagues and other tradies to hear their experiences. There are a lot of unreliable trade vehicles on the market and there are a few extremely robust models to pick, so do as much homework as possible before handing over your hard-earned cash. Facebook, Google, and websites like Australian Car Reviews  give great insight into the vehicle that you are interested in.  Buy it once, buy it right.

Ben Evans

Dealer Principal

Cars & Consulting Pty Ltd

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