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  • Writer's pictureSam Kuhn


Quick, Nimble, and easy to miss. Are you being ripped off?

Before you drive away in your brand-new sports car, family van, or all-rounder it’s important to make yourself fully aware of what you are sitting in. It is becoming increasingly common for cars to break down at the end of the block, or within a few days of purchase.

The common view of car dealerships is that a salesperson will do everything in their power to rip you off to make more money, but what you don’t know might surprise you.

It is important for you to know that if your vehicle is faulty right off the bat, then you may be entitled to restitution. How can you be sure that you are protected if something like this occurs to you or your family? Let’s start from the beginning.

The importance and know-how of ‘Lemon Laws’

“Lemon Laws” is the term used to describe the Laws that protect consumers when it comes to faulty new or used cars.

When you are in the market for a new (or used) car, it is a reasonable expectation that what you buy is safe and reliable. However, this is not always the case. That is why the Lemon Laws are so important and have been introduced to protect the consumers.

Recent Changes in Jurisdiction

The 2019 QCAT-OLA Act (also known as the Lemon Laws Act) increased QCAT’s jurisdiction in motor vehicle disputes from $25,000 to $100,000.[1] What does this mean for you?

Essentially, these laws protect you if the car you bought is faulty and you weren’t warned.

QCAT and Australian Consumer Law

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal is where most claims are heard for this area of law. It is important that the laws that are dealt with at QCAT are relatively simple and easy to understand, although this is not always the case.

Whilst technology now allows people to buy and sell vehicles through online marketplaces with one or two clicks, consumers need to be extra-cautious as the normal protections which apply when dealing with a motor dealership often do not apply.

This is because most protections provided to consumers only apply to dealings with businesses conducted in “trade or commerce”, and the 2019 QCAT decision Hilton v Baartz decision framed that: “the sale of a motor vehicle… on gumtree was not in trade or commerce”, the reference to Gumtree in this case extends to other online sale sites such as eBay, Facebook, Amazon, etc. [2]

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) provides that a vehicle must be of acceptable quality and free from any major defects at the time of its purchase.

The important exception to this is knowledge, any and all faults of a vehicle must be disclosed to the purchaser. As you would expect, used vehicles carry with them an assumption that not everything will be completely perfect and, in those cases, minor faults are expected.

Before beginning a dispute, you must ask yourself the following:

1. Is the vehicle not of “acceptable quality”?

2. Has the vehicle suffered a “major failure”? and

3. did you reject the vehicle within the rejection period?

It is likely that if you answered yes to any of those three aspects you are entitled to a refund from the supplier.[3]

Acceptable quality can be determined by assessing whether the vehicle is:

- fit for all purposes for which goods of that kind are commonly supplied;

- acceptable in appearance and finish;

- free from defects;

- safe; and

- durable.

The courts dictation on the application of “major failure” and “acceptable quality” are exhaustive and can be very confusing in practice. At the end of the day, if the vehicle has faults and a reasonable consumer – with full knowledge of the faults – proceeds to purchase the vehicle than that vehicle is deemed to be of acceptable quality.

No one’s ever ‘ready’ to face the courts on their own.

No one’s ever ‘ready’ to face the courts on their own. No matter where you are in life, whether you know the Queensland courts or not, going it alone or with improper legal representation is never advised.

We urge you to seek guidance from our professional and results-driven team of legal experts. We do what other lawyers do not; getting you the results you need, treating you like one of our own, and allowing you to rest easy while we fight for you, no matter the case.

Contact Creevey Russell, Brisbane, Roma and Toowoomba Today

Visit or call direct on 07 3009 655 today.

[1] Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld). [2] [2019] QCAT 362. [3] Glen Cranwell, ‘Reality Testing in ‘lemon’ vehicle disputes’.


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