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All Car, No Responsibility: Roadside Car Sales

Looking for a cheap used car? These days many people are looking no further than the side of the road. But car dealers and some councils aren’t happy.

Roadside sales
Cars for sale on the roadside outside a Lower Hutt golf course. Photo Jerome Cvitanovich

Right through the country local councils are grappling with the growing number of cars being left on the roadside with a ”for sale” sign on the window.In some centres regulations forbid the sale of vehicles where it will cause safety issues for drivers or pedestrians, or restrict other vehicle owners gaining access to parks. 

Councils have been asked  to consider the issue of fairness. Registered dealers running car-yards and paying rates say they should not have to compete with people setting themselves up in business for free, on busy public roads. In some parts of the country the practise is already banned. People that park on a road or public place for the main purpose of selling a vehicle, risk a fine or being towed. 

In other regions the practise of selling vehicles in this way is strictly restricted to private sales. In Lower Hutt near Wellington, the Hutt City Council is considering submissions on the tightening up of the bylaws on roadside selling. This follows complaints about cars being sold on some of area's busiest roads. The council says an unregistered car dealer was parking cars for sale. The council is looking at a proposed bylaw change that will ban cars being sold in some areas. 

Roy McGuinness has been in the car trade for over forty years. He ran a yard for many years in Lower Hutt, trading in classic cars. He has no problem with genuine private car sales but he says that some traders are masquerading as private sellers to avoid their financial and legal liabilities towards car buyers. When we met at a roadside car yard in Randwick Road in Lower Hutt, he pointed out that those buyers have little scope for redress if they purchase a problem vehicle.

Roy McGuiness and his Special not bought on the roadside
Roy McGuinness and his Special – not bought on the roadside. Photo Roy McGuinness