Understanding PPSR Searches

By conducting a PPSR search, you can gain valuable insight into a vehicle's financial history and make informed decisions when purchasing a used car

·4 min read
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Understanding PPSR Searches: What They Tell You and What They Don't

Before buying a used car, especially from a private seller, a PPSR (Personal Property Securities Register) search is crucial. It can help you avoid potential problems and ensure you're not buying a car with hidden financial burdens.

What a PPSR Search Reveals

A PPSR Search helps you understand the financial status of a vehicle:

  • Security Interests: It shows if there are any outstanding loans or finance agreements against the car. This means the vehicle could be repossessed even if you've paid for it.
  • Vehicle Details: The search provides information like the make, model, color, and whether the car has been written off or reported stolen.


  • Peace of Mind: A PPSR search helps you make informed decisions and avoid potential financial risks.
  • Legal Record: The search certificate acts as official documentation of your findings.

What a PPSR Search Doesn't Reveal

While valuable, a PPSR search doesn't provide all the information about a vehicle:

  • Loan Amount: It doesn't disclose how much is still owed on the car.
  • Ownership History: The search doesn't provide information about previous owners.
  • Odometer Reading: The search won't show the vehicle's mileage.
  • Outstanding Fines: Information about unpaid fines isn't included in the search.

Expanding the Search: More Than Just Cars

You can use a PPSR Search for a wide range of vehicles, not just cars:

  • Motorbikes
  • Caravans, Campervans, Camper Trailers
  • Horse Floats, Trailers, Boat Trailers
  • Buses, Trucks, Forklifts, Tractors, All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

For complex machinery like excavators or backhoes, you might need to check the vehicle's speed and power to determine if it qualifies for a PPSR search.

See our Pricing page for more information on pricing, we offer one-off payments or tiered pricing subscriptions.

Payment is accepted via credit or debit cards. Remember, fees are non-refundable, so double-check your information before completing the search.

What You'll Need

To conduct a PPSR search, you will need:

  • A credit or debit card
  • The vehicle's serial number (VIN or chassis number)

By conducting a PPSR search, you can gain valuable insight into a vehicle's financial history and make informed decisions when purchasing a used car.

For maximum protection, conduct your PPSR search as close to the time of purchase as possible. Ideally, do it the day before or the day you plan to buy the car.

Why is timing so important?

  • Up-to-date information: A PPSR search provides a snapshot of the vehicle's financial status at that moment. The closer you search to your purchase date, the more current the information is.
  • Protection from Repossession: If your search reveals no outstanding financial interests on the day you buy the car, you have stronger protection against a future claim of repossession.

Buying from a Dealer?

While licensed motor vehicle dealers generally offer protection from repossession, even if a financial interest was previously registered, it's still a good idea to perform a PPSR Search. This extra layer of protection can provide peace of mind and potentially save you from unforeseen legal complications. Remember, state and territory laws might also offer additional protection when buying from a dealer.

Always remember, a PPSR search is a vital step in ensuring a safe and secure used car purchase. It provides you with essential information and helps protect you from potential risks.

Beyond the PPSR: Additional Checks for a Safe Used Car Purchase

While a PPSR search is crucial, it's not the only step to take when buying a used car. Here are some other checks that can help you make a more informed decision:

  • Mechanical Inspection Expert Advice: Contact your state or territory's roadside assistance or motor traders association for recommendations on reputable vehicle inspectors. Thorough Assessment: Ask the inspector to verify the car's serial number hasn't been tampered with, check that the odometer readings in the service manual are accurate and consistent, and assess the overall condition of the vehicle.

  • Road Registration Check Online Verification: Most state and territory road transport authorities offer online registration checks using the car's license plate number. This can reveal the registration expiry date and details like make and model. Physical Documentation: Request a copy of the road registration papers from the seller. This should show the registered operator, license plate number, and VIN. Compare these details with the information on your PPSR search certificate to ensure consistency.

  • Additional Resources National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System (NEVDIS): State and territory road agencies and police share information about written-off, stolen, make, and model details through this database. However, if NEVDIS is offline or hasn't been updated, this information might not be available on your search certificate. Tasmanian Vehicles: For cars registered in Tasmania, stolen vehicle information isn't available on NEVDIS. You'll need to conduct a separate search on the Transport Tasmania website. Remember: Combining a PPSR search with these additional checks can significantly increase your confidence in buying a used car. For more comprehensive guidance, consult Moneysmart's Buying a Car guide.

See our docs page for more information, or Contact Us if you have any questions.

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