How to Buy a Car Interstate and Get it Transported Home

Buying a car interstate has gotten a lot easier and more convenient with Dealers moving online in droves. Vehicle transport companies too are responding to this trend, using technology to make the whole experience almost seamless.

Many are avoiding dealerships out of an abundance of caution but the need to buy cars still exists because their last one broke down, they want to take advantage of low interest rates or simply because it’s time to upgrade to the latest model.

Some might even argue this is the best time in ages to shop for something new.

The Coronavirus pandemic has shown that there are ways to do that safely.

That starts by buying a car online instead of in-person. Car shopping online has been possible for years now, but only recently has it become really accessible – and not a moment too soon.

In this article, we will be providing you tips for buying new cars online and getting them to your location all without putting yourself at risk.

Do Your Homework

There are tons of makes and models to choose from, new and used options to consider, and endless features and accessories to mull over.

The dealership makes it easy to pick and choose since you have everything right in front of you. Buying a car online might seem to make things harder, but it actually does the opposite thanks to the abundant resources available online.

With a few clicks, you can find endless information reviewing, rating, comparing, and recommending various vehicles.

Not only is this information more in-depth than you will get from a lot of dealerships; it’s not accompanied by manipulative sales tactics either.

Online, you can fully explore the options that fit your criteria – price, size, efficiency, features etc – and select something that checks all the boxes.

Take your time.

Buying a car online can feel overwhelming at first since you have so many options at your disposal – but that only means the perfect one is waiting for you to find.

What to Watch For

Be wary of purchasing a private car you have not seen in person. If you decide to explore the online route to buying a car interstate from a private seller:

  • ensure the registration plate, car identification and engine numbers match the details you obtained through the a relevant vehicle status check
  • if you can, have someone physically inspect the car and take it for a test drive before you buy it.
  • perform a vehicle history check.

When you purchase goods online from overseas or another state, Victorian consumer protection laws may not apply or may offer only limited protection.

If the vehicle is unregistered, obtain a valid receipt of sale from the seller, detailing the seller’s name, address and all vehicle identification details.

Car Background Checks

When purchasing privately it’s always a great idea to undertake a vehicle background check.

This can be completed very easily online and will help insure a worry-free purchase. To complete this check you will require access to the VIN and will only cost $2.00 via the Australian Government website.

This quick motor vehicle search will ensure that the car is:

  • Free from debt
  • Safe from repossession
  • Not reported written off
  • The vehicle is not reported stolen

For a more extensive vehicle check, including vehicle valuation, odometer check and PPSR certificate, head on over to

Take a Virtual Tour

When you purchasing a vehicle online you can’t take a test drive (at least not initially). Moreover, if you’re buying a car interstate, that’s going to make it nearly impossible.

But, that doesn’t mean you have to buy something sight unseen.

Many dealerships have started offering virtual tours where a salesperson walks you through the vehicle while video conferencing.

This is a great opportunity to ask questions, investigate how things work, and get a feel for what you do and don’t like about a model – just as you would if you were physically at the dealership.

And, just as you’re not obligated to buy a car you’re not completely comfortable with if you were in a dealership, the online car purchasing experience lets you say “No thanks” as well.

Search for Deals

Car sales declined significantly during the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic for many different reasons.

In response, automakers and dealerships began looking for ways in which they could offer extremely attractive pricing along with compelling incentive offers. You may be able to get more for your money now than you would have paid for the same vehicle just six or 12 months ago, but it can take some careful searching to find the best deals out there.

Where to Search for Cars Online

Start by searching what’s available from local dealerships, but just remember that you’re not limited by geography since anything you decide to drive will be shipped to your location.

Don’t be afraid to contact a dealership to explore offers in-depth.

Similarly, don’t be discouraged from haggling, either. Many dealerships are experiencing challenges and will work with interested buyers.

Consider Certified Pre-Owned

Buying a used vehicle in a safe, socially-distanced way can be a lot harder than shopping for them in person.

With used cars, you have more diverse options to choose from, requiring careful consideration of each. More importantly, you’re focused on finding a make/model that you can trust to be reliable despite already having miles already on the odometer.

Many people take a used vehicle to an independent mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection, but that may be difficult when buying online.

One way to get the benefits of buying used – lower price, more variety, etc – is to find certified pre-owned models which have undergone a thorough, factory-backed inspection to verify the vehicle is in excellent working order.

Since dealerships are just as eager to move these cars and trucks as newer models, there may be generous deals and offers available, they’re also backed with extended warranties in case hidden problems arise.

When Buying a Car Interstate Online, how do you get it Transported Back Home?

Dealerships are doing an admirable job of adapting the auto buying experience to meet public health requirements, however, that hardest part of car shopping remotely – before, during, and after the pandemic – is getting a vehicle from the seller to your home.

This applies to what you’re buying and potentially to your trade-in as well.

Some dealerships and online outlets are able to include shipping as part of the sales experience. In other cases however, you may have to arrange shipping on their own – especially if you buy from a private seller.

If you need help with shipping a car or truck from any part of the country to your location (or vice versa), there are may flexible vehicle transport companies available to make the arrangements easy.

Preparing for Safe Delivery

The riskiest part of this whole process is when you take delivery of your vehicle.

There will be paperwork to sign, features to go over, and possibly terms still to negotiate.

Every source for buying new cars online has its own process for completing the sale and transferring ownership of the vehicle.

Prepare to wear a mask throughout.

You may also want to bring your own pen and some wipes to use on surfaces like the steering wheel.

Most importantly, ask both the dealer and the transport company what their delivery process will involve so you know in advance how to safely prepare.

Online Scams

Fake advertisements are appearing on genuine car sales websites, in online classifieds and online auction sites. These scams offer non-existent second-hand vehicles for lower than expected prices.

For more information, visit the Auction and shopping scams page on the SCAMWatch website.

Both private sellers and licensed motor car traders advertise online.

If the vehicle is unregistered, obtain a valid receipt of sale from the seller, detailing the seller’s name, address and all vehicle identification details.

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Customer Success Story

Why Car Transport Services Exists Today!

When I had to move my car from Melbourne to Perth, the journey of finding the right transportation service felt almost as daunting as the 3,400 km drive itself. Through trial and error, a bit of luck, and a few missteps, I learned a great deal about how to select the best service for such a task. Here’s my experience, and I hope it can guide you smoothly through your own process.

Start with Research

The first thing I learned was the importance of research. Initially, I made the rookie mistake of choosing the first service that popped up in my Google search results. Big mistake. The company had hidden fees I hadn’t anticipated, and the service was far from satisfactory. What I learned was to dig deeper. Read reviews on multiple platforms, ask for recommendations from friends or family who’ve undertaken similar moves, and don’t skip on checking the forums where real customers discuss their experiences.

Check for Licensing and Insurance

One good decision I made was ensuring the company was licensed and insured. Insurance is important. Transporting a vehicle across such a long distance has its risks, and you want to ensure that your car is covered in case of any mishaps. Verify the transporter's accreditation with transport authorities and ensure they have valid insurance that covers your vehicle during the transit. This gave me peace of mind, knowing my car was in safe hands.

Compare Quotes

Getting multiple quotes was another area where I initially faltered. I assumed all prices would be roughly the same and didn’t bother shopping around. However, after a pricey quote from the first company, I decided to get several more. The price differences were significant, and some companies offered more comprehensive services at lower costs. Always compare quotes from at least three to five companies. This not only gives you a better idea of the price range but also allows you to negotiate better terms.

Understand the Service Types

I wasn’t aware initially, but there are different types of car transport services: door-to-door, terminal-to-terminal, open carrier, and enclosed carrier. Each has its pros and cons. I chose an open carrier for its cost-effectiveness, but in retrospect, considering the long journey across Australia, an enclosed carrier would have been better to protect my car from the elements. Understanding these options beforehand helps in making a more informed decision based on your needs and budget.

Communication is Key

One of the best decisions I made was selecting a company that had excellent communication practices. They provided updates at every major juncture of the journey, which eased my anxiety. Ensure that the company you choose has a point of contact who is reachable and willing to update you throughout the process. This is vital for peace of mind and to ensure that any issues are quickly addressed.

Timing and Flexibility

I learned the hard way that flexibility is key when transporting a car such a long distance. The initial service I chose promised a delivery within a week, but it ended up taking more than two weeks, which disrupted my plans significantly. Ask about the expected delivery times and check if the company can offer guarantees or compensation if they exceed the estimated delivery times.

Avoid Rush Decisions

A bad decision I made was rushing into booking without fully understanding the terms and conditions. This led to unexpected charges for additional services I wasn’t aware I had agreed to. Take your time to read the fine print or have someone else review it. Make sure you understand every aspect of the service contract.

What I Wish I Knew

If I knew then what I know now, I would have placed more emphasis on checking customer feedback about their post-service experience, especially regarding how companies handle damage claims and disputes. Knowing a company's track record in these areas can save you from potential headaches if something goes wrong.

Open vs Enclosed Car Transport

Open car carrier with new vehicles

Open Car Transport

Open car transport involves shipping vehicles in an open-air trailer, exposing them to weather and road conditions.

This method is cost-effective and widely available, making it a popular choice for transporting vehicles quickly and economically.

The main benefits include lower costs due to multiple vehicles being transported simultaneously and quicker delivery times. However, the downside is the potential risk of damage from environmental elements and road debris.

moving cars in an enclosed car carrier

Enclosed Car Transport

Enclosed car transport uses fully enclosed trailers to provide maximum protection for vehicles against weather, theft, and damage during transit.

This method is preferable for high-value, classic, or luxury vehicles requiring extra security. Enclosed transport is more expensive and less readily available but offers higher insurance coverage and peace of mind.

Specialised services include GPS tracking and expert handling, ensuring vehicles are delivered safely and discretely.

Find out more