Buying a vehicle – safety considerations

A good vehicle can help avoid a crash, and improve the chance of survival in a crash.

Safety features checklist

To help avoid and minimise the possibility of injury in a crash, ask the following:

  • What is the safety rating?
    New or used, 4 or 5 stars are recommended.
  • Are airbags fitted for both side and front impacts?
    Head-protecting side airbags can reduce deaths in side impact crashes by 37%. Torso airbags offer a 26% reduction in death and injuries compared with none.
  • Does it have electronic stability control?
    Electronic stability control significantly reduces crash rates by helping maintain control in difficult driving situations.
  • What restraints does the vehicle have?
    • 3-point (lap-sash), pre-tensioning, load-limiting seatbelts for all seats – actively tighten and minimise the force on the body in a crash
    • adjustable head restraints for all seats – look for active restraints that reduce the distance your head moves during an impact
    • child restraint anchor points – sufficient for the number of child seats required
    • seatbelt reminder – sound or light warns when belts are not in use, or confirms which belts are fastened.

Environmentally friendly vehicles

The Commonwealth Government’s Green Vehicle Guide provides information on fuel consumption (new and used) and greenhouse and air pollution ratings (new). It includes a fuel consumption database for vehicles manufactured between 1986 and 2003, plus information about how to drive and maintain vehicles efficiently.

A transport inspector may pull over your vehicle anywhere, anytime in Queensland to test your vehicle’s pollution levels as good, fair or poor.

Buyer’s checklist for a registered vehicle

  • The vehicle has a current Queensland safety certificate (with the issuing approved inspection station’s name is on it) displayed on the vehicle.
  • An independent mechanic has inspected the vehicle.
  • Registration certificate is in seller’s name (not proof of legal ownership).
  • Make sure the vehicle does not have a security interest over it by searching the Personal Property Securities Register. If you buy a vehicle on which money is owing, it could be repossessed by the lender. This search will also advise if the vehicle has been reported stolen or written-off.
  • If the vehicle runs on gas or has fittings/systems, it may require a gas certificate.
  • Ensure a transfer application is signed by yourself and the seller and lodge it with the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Registering your vehicle

A vehicle must be registered before it can be used on the road. Registration fees help fund the development and maintenance of the road network. Compulsory third party (CTP) insurance is included in registration. This covers the owner/driver for legal liability arising from the vehicle causing injury to another person. It does not cover damage to property, including vehicles.

The 'registered operator’ is the person (or other legal entity) whose name a vehicle is registered in and who is responsible for its operation. If the vehicle is a heavy vehicle, the person must be 18 years or older. Two individual registered operators are allowed, however, transactions may be authorised by either operator. Registration is not proof of legal ownership.

You can only register a vehicle in Queensland if is based or regularly operates in Queensland. Provide evidence of a Queensland garage address when registering and notify any change of address within 14 days. If you have a vehicle registered in another state, you must register the vehicle in Queensland within 14 days of Queensland becoming the vehicle’s garage address.

Transferring registration

You must transfer the registration to your name within 14 days of acquiring a registered, second-hand vehicle.

Renewing registration

A vehicle registration notice will be sent about 4 weeks before your registration expiry date. Change of address should be notified so this notice reaches you. If you do not receive a notice, you are still responsible for paying the registration fee and CTP by the expiry date. If you do not renew by the expiry date your registration lapses, a reinstatement fee applies and you cannot use the vehicle on a road.


Continue reading the Your Keys to Driving in Queensland Summary:

1. Introduction

2. Licences

3. Road Rules

4. Safe Road Use

5. Offences and Penalties

6. Your Vehicle

7. Organ Donation

Check out the other QLD Driving Test resources available to help you pass the written road rules test and get your learner licence (L plates):