You just arrived in Sydney and after a couple of days where you just looked around and enjoyed this city (video Sydney) , you are thinking of buying or renting a car to explore Australia.
You've got no idea where to look for a car that suites your expectations and if you have found it, what happens then?
There are a few things you should think of before buying a car. As this is an important topic for a successful trip, we've got for you a detailed tip…
First of all you should know how much you can invest. You will see that you can get really cheap cars, but these are sometimes also a bit more risky. It's not always like that, but the cheaper they are, the more you've got to invest later. But even with more expensive cars, you should always expect some repairs at any time. Because of that you should choose a popular brand like Toyota, Nissan or Holden. It will be easier for you to let one of them to be repaired as spare parts are easier to get (perhaps even cheaper) and more common in Australia.
Then you should think about how you want to explore Australia by car! Would you like to have your own bed in the car? It's quite easy to find a car with a mattress in the back of it. Normally these will be in a station wagon or in the vans. But you can get also a Four Wheel Drive with a mattress (video Kimberleys).
But have you thought about camping? You can buy very cheap tents for about $40. We would recommend you to buy a proper one for about $150, because it will be your home for quite a while. Normally there is always a good tent on sale. At the moment you've got a tent which stays dry and is bigger than the cheap ones and just made of a better quality, you'll feel much better with it. At the moment you'll stay 3 more nights in your tent instead of going into a backpacker, you've got your money, which you paid more for a proper tent, back again! And you should be yourself worth it. Remember, it's gonna be your home.
You can buy a big air mattress for about $20 and for another $20 you'll get an air pump which works with your 12 Volt car plug. Most of the Australian camping sites are on a high standard, so that camping is quite common in Australia.
If you've saved enough money for your trip, we would recommend you to buy a 4x4. It's a fantastic and safe way to explore Australia. Nearly everyone who enjoyed Australia with a 4x4 will tell you that there is no better way to do it! You should have at least $5000 to buy a 4x4, but every $1000 more is a good investment.
Most travellers don't have that much money to buy an expensive 4x4. Don't worry; you will also experience Australia! But be aware of, that many Roads and National Parks (also Frazer Island) are just open for 4x4. This would mean that you have to book extra tours or rent a 4x4 to do these things. At the end it could be that a 4x4 isn't that much more expensive.
Another good question could be to rent a car instead of buying one. You will see, the answer is also just about money. For sure you are having a lower risk if repairs have to be done with a rented car. The rental station will pay for them, if it's not your fault. Have a good look at the rental contract for these things! If you don't have that much time for your journey, it's also worth of thinking to rent a car, because it takes more time to buy one and to sell it later again. At the moment you are travelling for over 2 months, its worth of buying a car. Remember, if everything goes well, you'll get some of your money back with selling your car again.
Sure, you would like to sell your car for a higher price than you bought it, because you had repairs on it or other costs. But if everyone would do it like that, most of the cars you'll find, wouldn't then be payable anymore. On the other side, if you bought your car for a low price and the demand for cars is high when selling, you can try to get more for it. It also depends on the season. Good luck! At the moment you've rented a car, the money is gone, of course.
After you've made the decision of renting or buying a car, you probably want to know, where you can do this. It's good to get as much information as possible.
Buying a car
For buying a car and selling it later again, you should definitely take a look at the following internet pages. Here you'll get at least a good idea what the cars cost. By the way, 200 000 km on the odometer is nothing in Australia. It's a whole different way of driving and the climate is in most areas car friendly, so that it's quite common to have cars with 250 000 km and more on the odometer.
There is also the possibility to buy a car at the Travellers Auto Barn. They offer a guarantee to buy your car back after the journey. We've heard of many other travellers that their prices compared to buying a car somewhere else, are exorbitant high and exorbitant low for buying it back from you.
We've got a much better choice for you!
Before selling it to them for nearly nothing, go to the Kings Cross Car Market. Under normal circumstances, you will get a better price there. The Kings Cross Car Market is now situated at 110 Bourke Street in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, 100metres North of Qilliam Street (open from 9am to 5pm).
This car market is special, as you'll see only travellers here, who are trying to sell their cars to other travellers. That means here are no professional car dealers who are trying to sell with a profit! Another good thing is that all these cars which are sold here, have to have a Pink Slip.
A Pink Slip?
Yes! A Pink Slip is a report and shows you how safe the car is. The older ones are pink and the newer ones which are printed by a computer are white. If you have any questions about cars and registrations, ask the staff of the car market. Most of the guys who are working there are really friendly and helpful! You can trust them and they won't try to sell you a special car. They don't have any benefit with selling a car, as they don't get any commission from the sellers. They mainly get their money from the parking fees of the sellers.
The first week will cost the seller around $60 and if you arrive without a pink slip, you'll have to pay another $20 and to get the pink slip afterwards. They will also help you with dealing with the paper work (there is an extra fee for that, but worth it).
Watch out for how long each car is registered and in what state it is registered in! Any state got different rules and prices! It's good to buy a car which is registered in the state where you buy it (example: New South Wales – Sydney), because in most cases you have to register it there again. A registration period is 12 months. Except Western Australia, there you can do it by post, but ask the Car Market Staff for up to date information or changes!
On the other side, if you are driving to the state where you have to register your car, it's also possible. Then you can register your car in that state. Also ask the staff for the prices in each state. New South Wales for example is really expensive compared to other states. In most of the other states, the prices are half of the ones of New South Wales or even less.
Video Great Ocean Road and Melbourne
Take a good look at the car and especially underneath it and also open the hood. Believe it or not, but we've heard of a story, that two travellers bought a car without an engine.
If oil is leaking out of the engine, leave your fingers of this car and better take another one!
Make a test drive and listen for strange sounds! At the moment you've got your car, you will probably drive a lot of kilometres with it in a short time. Then you should change your oil and the filter every 5000 to 7000 km! Your engine will thank you! It's quite easy and much cheaper if you do the oil change by yourself.
You should also think of buying a car which runs with LPG (gas). You will find a lot of petrol stations in Australia (even at the West Coast), which sells this kind alternative fuel. The car engine uses more gas than petrol on 100 km, because it getburnt on a higher temperature. This could mean that you have to change the wear parts more often than usual. But the gas is much cheaper then the normal petrol. At the end you will save around 1/3 of your fuel costs. And no worries, the system is safe!
Selling your car
When you are buying a car, you should also think about how to sell it again after your trip. The Kings Cross Car Market is also for that a really good address! To sell it there, you will need the pink slip for your car. You can get it from many mechanics and it should cost around $20 and it is valid for one month.
The guys from the car market can tell you some addresses from mechanics, but we've heard from other travellers that their partner mechanics are really fussy and that they wrote things down which were really nothing! That could mean, that you don't get the pink slip, because of some rust at a door and you will have the discussions later with your customers why you don't have a pink slip. This doesn't mean that we want you to go to a “blind mechanic”. We are also for a good and safe check, especially because a lot of travellers are going to drive with their car into the outback. But the check should be a fair one.
It's also helps to sell your car, if the registration is at least 3 more months valid. Especially the cars with a Western Australian registrations are easier to sell, as you can do the registration by post (ask the staff again, if this information is still up to date).
If you are travelling to Western Australia (video West Coast, Australia) and your car is registered somewhere else, get the information what you have to do, to get a registration there! If there is a chance to change the registration to Western Australia, could this be a big bonus for you, when selling the car later again! At this point, we are also looking forward to get this information for Traveldudes! Thanks!
You should really think about these things, as this makes it easier to sell your car later again! The Kings Cross Car Market is a great place to buy a car, but you don't really want to hang around there for days, until you have sold it. Ok, you will probably meet some really nice people who are also selling their cars, but Sydney got more to offer than a parking garage! You will see that you will drop your price at the second day already. We needed 11 days to sell our 4x4, but I must tell you that we were there in a bad season. There were much more sellers (over 25 cars) than buyers and even with a great price, we had no luck as many travellers were looking for other cars.
Here a statistic from the Kings Cross Car Market about what traveler buy:
50% station wagons
10% 4WD's (4x4)
On the other side, we know that people sold their cars (any kind) in 4 hours and less! Always remember, you will only need one buyer! At the moment you've found him, you should buy a six pack and invite the other sellers in the car market (the staff also appreciates a bottle). This is an unpublished, but nice rule of the car market. Every Thursday there is a small BBQ for the sellers, which is sponsored by the car market.
Renting a car
Wicked! Yes these vans are wicked and it's also their name: Wicked Campers.
You'll get them in different outfits, because they are sprayed in different ways. Like that, they are driven arts. The vans offer a bed (sleeps up to 3 persons), a kitchen (which you can access when you open the back of the camper), a table to pop up and large cupboards (these you'll find underneath the backseats). You'll also get blankets, sheets and pillows, a CD player, camp stools, a cooking burner, countertop, sink, water container, ice box, pots and Pants and cutlery.
There are rental stations all over Australia/New Zealand (Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Broome, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Christchurch and Auckland). (video Red Centre and Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park)
This is good, because if the van breaks down and you are close to one of the towns, the chances to get another one are high. If you are too far away from one of these towns, you have to phone the company and they will help you to find a mechanic. If it wasn't your fault, they will pay the bill, but also take a good look at their contract conditions.
For example, you are not allowed to drive with the vans on an unsealed road. If you wish to do this, they offer you a 4WD version now. You also have to pay an extra fee if you are driving into the Outback or to the West Coast. You get a simple van for already about $30 per night! You pay around $5 more per night if you want your van with an air conditioning. The better Ultra Version costs around $40 per night and the Outback Camper got a price around $60 per night. These prices can change a bit, of course. In the High Season it could be a bit more, but for sure your can drive your van with unlimited km restrictions! You also have the possibility (for an extra fee) of one way rentals.
Wicked Campers won't charge you for minor dints or scratches and you've got a 24 hour roadside assistance. Their motto is “Less Rules, More Fun”.
If you are thinking of a one way rental, ask them if they've got a van which has to be taken back to another station. Perhaps you are lucky and you'll get a special deal. Good routes would be for example: Alice Springs to Adelaide, Cairns to Brisbane or Sydney, Christchurch (NZ) to Auckland (NZ).