How to sell your second hand car in New Zealand

If you’ve purchased a car for a road trip around NZ, you’re going to end up selling it when the dream ends and you have to head home again. The best-case scenario after you’ve taken it over mountain passes and through all sorts of NZ weather, is that you get some money back from your initial investment.

This article covers off the legal processes you need to do when selling your backpacker car. It’ll give you some resources, both online and physical, that may help you to sell your car quickly.

Do remember to allow plenty of time for the car sale at the end of your trip. In particular, if you try to sell from March to November it may take a while as it’s the low season.

Before you sell your car

Giving the interior and exterior of your car a thorough clean is a given. Driving over dusty roads and at night means that your car looks like a backpacker car- covered in bugs and dirt. The inside is filled with the remnants of a hundred road trip snacks. Luckily, gas stations have vacuums and car washes, or you can do a better job at specialised car washing stations.

Make sure there are no outstanding fees or fines and your road user charges are up to date (if your car is a diesel).

What about the WoF?

If you have a recent valid warrant of fitness, then you don’t need to worry about this. But, if the car doesn’t have a warrant or it’s due to expire, you might have issues selling it.

You can either obtain a WoF and then you’ll be fine, or sell the vehicle ‘as is, where is’. If you sell the car with no warrant, you will want to get written confirmation from the buyer that the car will not be driven without first obtaining a warrant, and that you are not liable for any repairs or maintenance.

Where can you sell your backpacker car?

Start thinking about this about a month before you need to. If your visa ends and your flight departs and you haven’t sold your car, this could be an expensive and stressful exercise.

Firstly, once you’ve got the car looking in mint condition again, take photos of the interior and exterior. Take photos of details that show any damage. Then, list your car online. Make sure you’re based in a town or city for a while to give buyers the chance to test drive the vehicle.

In the ad, list the car’s make, model, year of manufacture, how many km’s it has done and anything else pertinent to future buyers.

There are a few places you can do this:

  •       TradeMe is NZ’s most popular online marketplace. There is a success fee but considering the broad reach and high chance of selling, it’s worth it.
  •       Backpacking Facebook groups are free to list but with few guarantees. Some of them seem to have a lot of sellers and few buyers, but as they are free to list, it seems an obvious thing to do.
  •       Your hostel or backpacker hotel might have a noticeboard you can put an advertisement up on. There also might be other backpacker accommodation in the area that let you put a sign up too.
  •       Pop an advertisement up in the window of your car with all your contact details. This is easy but the success rate is likely quite low. Just check you can do this as not all councils allow this.
  •       If you are out of other options, secondhand car yards may be interested. This is a last option if you fly out in three hours and you’re willing to take a loss.

What paperwork do you need to sell a car in NZ?

Now that’s you’ve listed your car and found a buyer, it’s vitally important that you do the correct paperwork or you may find yourself liable for fines, tickets and fees that the new owner incurs. To avoid this, you and the new owners should fill out the paperwork on the same day- ideally, straight away at the time of handover. The forms are all available online on the NZTA website, or you can get the physical forms at most NZ Post Shops. It might be easier to use the physical form and hand it in to the AA, VINZ or VTNZ office so your international drivers’ licence can be presented at the same time.

The form you need is a MR13A, and you’ll need your driver licence, the car’s number plate details, and the full address of the person you’re selling the car to.

Cancel your car insurance, and you are ready to go.Success!

Your car is sold and you can head off to the airport knowing that the vehicle is off on another adventure. 

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