Written Off Repaired Car Registered due to Error, Now TfNSW wants to Buy at a Discount

Bought a Car from a private seller About 2 Years a go.
Car has been working well for us since.

Got a call somedays back from TfNSW stating issue with registration.
They said:
Car was registered due to an error in NSW.
Car was written-off and then repaired in a different state previously.
They(previous owners) had to complete some formalities there, before registering in NSW, which were not done.

Now TfNSW wants to but back the car at 50% of the market value.
They say this is based on the valuation of the car while considering its is written-off.
I already requested them to increase the offer, which they are not willing to do.

Please advice, not the best of the times to go looking for a car.
Should we still comply? Considering error was on their behalf?
What are our options?
Thank you.

Edit 1:
Answering some questions:
We paid: $6000 + fees for the Car
Being offered: $3000
Thank you

Edit 2:
Adding more information about the written-off status:
While doing PPSR the car comes-up as repairable write-off in Feb 2017 (previous state)
We purchased the care in mid 2018, and it was already registered in NSW
The price on the transaction was noted the actual one i.e. $6000.
Thank you

Poll Options

  • 8
    Accept the Offer and Give Them the Car
  • 37
    Refuse to Accept the Offer (Options?)


  • +1

    Wow, that's a tough one. What are the implications if you refuse their offer?

    If they de-register the car making it illegal to drive, could be more headache than the financial loss.

    • They said you can't transfer the registration. I pretty sure they won't register the car when the rego is due next year.

      • +1

        I guess that answers your question then. Lose 50% now or 100% (minus scrap value) at next registration.

        Not sure if this is something you could get advice on from a lawyer here but guessing unlikely. Maybe someone will chime in in the morning. Get some rest tonight and try not to stress too much.

  • What's the value of the car, and how much are you being offered?

    If it's not a large sum, then take the offer and move on. If a large sum, then get some legal advice for info on any recourse you may have. It was the department's fault they registered it.

    • Value = 6k
      Offer = 3k

      • He paid 6k and has already owned the car 2 years so it's likely worth less now. OP needs to provide more info.

        • Should be atleast worth 5.6k now. But obviously our replacement cost for a similar car, if we can find, will be much more.

  • Not sure how rego works in NSW, I assume the seller has to provide the RWC for rego? How much did you pay vs the current offer by TfNSW?

  • +3

    Looks like you ran into the same audit team like gam90 on Whirlpool

  • +2

    Can you ask them what formalities need to be done to make the car compliant?

    • Something like it needed to be repaired by authorized facility and re-registered in the previous state, before registering here.

      • I'd see if you could take them to xCAT then and make them give you the replacement value of the car. Go to carsales and find 10 of the same car and see what the average price is because that's what they should be paying you.

        • +1

          The value of the car is much lower than the market value as it was originally a repairable write off, in which case the original owners were paid out by the insurance company as a write off. The car is then purchased cheap and repaired so really a bit of double dipping. Most insurance companies will not insure these repairable write offs and if they do it is only for the lesser amount.

  • +1

    If you bought it for $6k two years ago it isn’t worth that now. So what is the market value now? You have bought a written off vehicle, the value will be significantly lower than the same model that hasn’t been written off. $3k might be all it’s really worth.

    I suspect you aren’t going to get it registered. Despite it running well etc it was deemed a write off and NSW will only allow re-registration of a write off if you are the owner at the time of the write off.

    Theee must be loopholed that allow a car to be repaired and registered in another state the transferred to NSW. Sounds like they want to close the loophole.

    • A $6k car two years probably hasn't lost that much value. A $6k car is like a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer. Do you really think a 2004 car would be worth that much less?

      • But was it worth $6k at time of purchase?

      • -1

        True, but unless it was purchased very cheap it will have dropped some value.

  • +2

    If you have proof you performed a check that the car was not a previous write off before purchase you should be compensated for any loss due to their administrative error. The fact that they have offered to buy the car denotes this. The big question is whether the offer is fair. It seems that the $3k is reasonable based on your purchase price and time elapsed.

    Depending on how much rego is left on the car, you could argue that you seek entitlement to any unused portion of rego and CTP.

  • +2

    How do you know the call is genuinely from TfNSW? Have they sent you any written correspondence?
    This seems like a scam to me?

    • Phone calls and legal deed outlining the proposal from official TfNSW email.

      • ok

  • +2

    Have you called Transport dept back to make sure someone isn't scamming you? Just in case?

  • +2

    Haven't read either thread in full, but this sounds like a similar situation to yours: https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/thread/3p8nw8q3

  • Personally I'd take the $3k, and try to get any unused rego & CTP if possible, as it is fair given 2 years have passed since you purchased for $6k. My concern would be for the vehicle's safety if it has been deemed a write off, then I personally wouldn't want to be driving around it, even if it is working well. Similarly you may find you have insurance issues if you were to ever claim. Insurance companies will always accept your money, not always are they that quick to payout.

    • My concern would be for the vehicle's safety if it has been deemed a write off, then I personally wouldn't want to be driving around it

      If it were deemed an irreparable writeoff then it wouldnt be driving around full stop. It was deemed a repairable one hence it was able to be registered in another state after getting all the necessary fixes. The only reason its not legally allowed to be registered is because they didnt fill out some paperwork. The difference of paperwork being filled out or not does not dictate whether its safe or not.

  • What is the car make and model?

    You may find valuation would have been provided independantly through red book or an auction house.

  • +4

    If you bought a written off car and did not do your due diligence, you are at a loss.

    If there was no way to know it is written off an no longer road worthy, it is the department's fault.

    You should be given fair compensation for your financial loss. Buying your car at the new market rate, which is the result of the department's error, is not fair compensation.

    Two years depreciation on a $6k car, without rego, I reckon ~$4.5k is fair. For $1.5k it is worth your while taking it to legal aid.

    • This!

      Imagine if the car was way more valuable, rare and spent e.g. paid $80K for it (assuming due diligence checks; PPSR etc were conducted)?

  • +2

    Firstly I too would recommend you check to see if it is a scam or not. Get confirmation from TfNSW directly that they are looking to impound your vehicle.
    You could, also get a PPSR check done now ($2), to see that it actually is recorded as a repaired write-off, and use that as a way of seeing if you're getting scammed. Getting one now however will not offer you any actual safeguards.

    Secondly, did you get a PPSR when the car was purchased? If not, your most likely not going to be in too much luck in arguing values about the car (I would still fight it), as it shows you didn't take appropriate due-diligence in purchasing your car/ otherwise knowingly bought a car that was written-off (i.e. told in person but not in the books).

    Further, TfNSW (RTA) will usually only pay (at least in my instance) the amount recorded on the transfer of ownership form, back when you took ownership of the car. If you and the seller wrote down a depreciated value (e.g. $3000 for a $6000 car) to save yourself the 3% stamp duty, well then you've shot yourself in the foot there. You can either admit to fraud or otherwise cop the reduced payout. (Given 99% of cars are depreciating, you've got no chance at arguing special circumstances)

    • +3

      I have had personal experience with this exact issue, many years ago (back in 2010ish), before the ban on re-registering write-offs existed. We had a car that we had purchased near-new and had owned at that point for a couple of years be involved in an accident. The car was purchased from a "fella in Bankstown" whose mum had moved o/s and left the car & that she had also lost both original keys and its logbooks. (P.S I know now that I failed hard at noting them dodgy seller signs)

      Whilst the car was not written off at that point, the smash repairer called us out to his shop during the repair process to show evidence of significant front end passenger side damage from a previous accident, with the quality of repair being poor (welds were especially shocking). As there was damage already at that corner, he took it as his responsibility to rectify, as much as possible, the poor workmanship of the previous repairs and gave us the car back a few weeks after, showing us a bill to the insurer for $13k+ on a $17k car (it would've been written off again if they had known about the other damage).

      A few weeks later we get a call from the RTA (before TfNSW had all its name changes) informing us that the car was previously written off and that there was an "error in their system" (read: "employees from Bankstown" fudging up records (told by a RTA employee in-person when they collected the car)) and as such the car was not recorded correctly recorded on their system & they would be acquiring the car back from myself. Whilst market values were about 14-15k they offered about 11k sighting its accident history and written-off status. The person looking after my case said however if i could prove that I got an official history check done when i purchased the car, (called REVS back then), then I would be able to claim off that and the RTA would pay the official purchase price of the vehicle ($17k). (Whilst a non-issue now, I had gotten mine done over the phone, so had to get a call script and bank statement to prove I had the call and paid).

      I was subsequently paid the full purchase price of my car when i dropped it off (recorded and paid stamp duty at $17k), and watched my freshly repaired car, get crushed in front of my eyes, as the RTA deemed it no longer roadworthy (i.e. declared it a stat write-off). I effectively had $0 depreciation for the 2-3 years i had the car.

      EDIT: was just formatting.

    • I think tshow's comment is a good TL;DR for mine

      • Thank you for sharing, I have added more information in the post.

        • Hey mate, upon re-reading your (the OP's) post, I think you've got a pretty solid argument to stand on, and I personally would be sitting on the $6k purchase price as a payout. It looks like this is an issue that Serivce NSW (TfNSW) has got to sort out with the old owner, but should be paying you in full for due to their clerical errors.

          Seeing that the car was written-off interstate and was registered to drive there prior to its NSW registration, it is guaranteed that it would've been recorded on the WOVR index (as it is national). The issue here is not that it was either not listed on the PPSR or that you failed the due-diligence of checking (regardless of whether you knew it was written off or not) as that car had already been registered in NSW when your purchased it, and thus you could fairly assume that all necessary steps were taken to have it registered here.
          It seems that somewhere along the lines, the old owners have either lied when registering the car or Service NSW screwed up. Given there's no way of checking the method in which the car was first registered in NSW and as your not the first person to register it in NSW, there is literally no way that you could've known about the failure in complying with such formalities as a subsequent owner (The Check Rego NSW site and PPSR wont give any details like that, nor will TfNSW give such details given legal and privacy concerns).

          As such, I think you should point out such details to TfNSW and demand that as a result of their errors, you get the full recorded price of the car (+ stamp duty & transfer costs, if you'd like), as there's no way you should've been able to drive an otherwise un-roadworthy car.

          The only thing I would point out is that NSW has banned registration of previously repairable write off cars since 2011, and has very limited exemptions (i.e. old owner re-registering, or more likely in your case interstate owners who have owned and registered the car interstate for over 12 months bringing a car to NSW). Not that there anything particularly wrong with what you've done, but given that it was written off in 2017, that should've set off a warning bells to you, and I personally would've run away from the car let alone buy it, given potential complications in future.

          Anyways whats done is done, I think that nonetheless you should chase the full amount that you paid. Whilst you can sell the car to an interstate buyer, COVID has gotten in the way of that too so I'd add that into the response to TfNSW. If you can't re-register when the rego is due your going to be effectively stuck with a useless car, for something that isn't your fault. I would do another PPSR check in-case to see if TfNSW has made any additional notes to your car's file. (i.e. banned it for re-registration in NSW).

  • I'd hate to be you in that position tbh… not all cars depreciate at the same rate. I remember buying my 2005 VZ V6 Commodore ute a few years back for like $5K, driving it for like 2 years and then selling it for about $6.7K or so.

    With your case, is there any chance that you could ask them to exchange you another car of perhaps the type, brand and condition opposed to just paying you out the market price? It was their error that caused you to be put into a situation where you may lose the car and be only paid out half of what you bought it for. And you could try to say how you were planning to keep the car forever and that you can't afford to buy another one?

  • +1

    I would assume there would be someway to resolve this legally.
    In VIC for example in regards to vicroads you can make a compliant then put the matter to the ombudsman.
    In your case your an innocent party who bought the car and due to registering agency's mistake now have to deal with the consequences
    In going through this process you might be able to negotiate a fairer offer which both parties are happy with.

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