25 October 2019

Stronger warranties to protect Canberrans who buy second-hand vehicles

| Lachlan Roberts
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Labor MLA Tara Cheyne's first car

Ms Cheyne first ever car died in the middle of a roundabout. Photo: Supplied.

Labor MLA Tara Cheyne can still vividly remember when and where her second-hand car died. She was 21-years-old. In the middle of a roundabout.

“The very first car I ever owned was one I bought here in Canberra from a second-hand dealership – a Mazda 121,” Ms Cheyne said. “Not long after I purchased it, the engine would randomly stop while I was driving it.

“I’ll never forget the engine just conking out while I was going around a roundabout in the inner south. I felt dudded by the dealership and kept returning it for fixes, but the problem was never completely resolved.”

She is not the only one who has been through that experience. Just two days after Byron Carr bought a second-hand car for $7,000, the electric windows stopped working and remained open. Carr resorted to Glad Wrap to cover the gap. A few days later on his way to the coast, smoke started billowing from under the hood.

Ms Cheyne and Mr Carr are two Canberrans who have been left short-handed by a dealership. Ms Cheyne’s new motion in the Assembly aims to amend that.

Ms Cheyne and Andrew Barr

Ms Cheyne has been appointed Special Secretary to the Chief Minister. Photo: File.

Ms Cheyne introduced a motion in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (23 October) calling on the Government to consider introducing 30-day warranties for older second-hand vehicles bought from dealerships.

The proposed warranties will cover cars, motorcycles, caravans and even motorhomes that are more than 10 years old or have more than 160,000 kilometres on the clock.

Under current ACT law, there is no warranty for second-hand motor vehicles more than 10 years old or that have driven 160 000 kilometres or more. And there’s no warranty for second-hand motorcycles.

Second-hand motor vehicles less than 10 years old or driven less than 160,000 kilometres have a statutory warranty of three months.

The motion also proposes that the ACT Government raises the jurisdictional limit of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal so consumers can more easily enforce their rights.

Essentially, what Ms Cheyne wants is for buyers to have greater confidence in what they’re buying and, if they have indeed bought a lemon, having better and clearer channels of recourse.

“In my role as Special Secretary to the Chief Minister, one of my tasks is looking into areas where Canberrans aren’t getting a fair go,” she said. “This is an issue that stood out to me – due to my own experience but also what I’ve been hearing and reading about around town.”

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