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How to Surprise Your Loved One with a Car

10 October 2020 AutoMarket, Tips & Advice

If you were to think of your dream present, a car might come to mind. And with the holidays just around the corner, you might just get lucky. However, this gift isn’t quite as straightforward as a piece of jewelry or a humble pair of socks. There are many things to consider before splurging on a new set of wheels for your loved one, especially if you want to surprise them. Here are some key points to keep in mind along the way.


Choose the right car

Before diving in head first, take the time to decide what car the recipient actually wants. What brand do they like? What features would they prioritise? There’s not much room for error, here. Most people are pretty particular about what they look for in a car. Drop subtle hints here and there if you’re not sure. Don’t make it obvious if you want the surprise to hold up.

Think about the paperwork

Though you probably want to register the vehicle under your loved one’s name, this may not be legally possible to some states. You might be able to get around this if the other person is present to sign the paperwork, however this would spoil the surprise. You must also have a financial strategy in place. The term ‘gift’ generally suggests that it’s paid for by the giver. If the car is in fact a down payment, that doesn’t quite fit the description. The dealer generally runs the credit of the person who will take over the payments. However, you cannot give the dealership the credit details of someone who isn't present at the time of buying. The best option in this scenario is to finance the car under your name and then return with the person who will co-sign to set up new finance terms.

Pay your own car loan

You won't be able to gift a car or transfer a title if you don't own a car. So, if you have an outstanding balance on your car loan, focus on paying it off completely first.

Think about their financial status

Bear in mind that while you may cover the initial cost, it will likely be the recipient who foots the bill for maintenance, insurance, repairs and gas. So don’t spend beyond their means. Buy sensibly.

Organise car insurance

Remember that your recipient cannot legally drive without car insurance. If they already have theirs sorted with their current car, that makes things easy. But if they’re starting from scratch, take the time to find them a good policy. For more on this, check out our blog on car insurance tips.

Ask the dealership to keep your plans a secret

Make sure to let the dealership know you’re planning a surprise to avoid any unnecessary slip-ups.


Give your home phone number

This is simply too risky. What if your loved one picks up the phone? Make sure to give your personal mobile number and not to answer any incoming calls related to the purchase in the same room as them.

Wait until the last minute to start shopping

If you’re buying a gift as extravagant as a car, don’t leave it on the back burner. Be proactive about your search to avoid any disappointment, or settling for a car with which you’re not 100% satisfied. December is the busiest time of the year for car dealers, and all of the best models tend to get snapped up pretty fast.

Transferring the car

Now for the fun part (not). When you buy a second-hand car under your name in Victoria and you want to transfer it, you must notify VicRoads of the vehicle transfer within 14 days of taking possession of the vehicle.

You will need to submit the following items:

  • a completed vehicle transfer form, signed by you and the seller
  • roadworthy certificate
  • payment of motor vehicle duty and transfer fees.


  • Some states permit charging a nominal fee for a car in order to avoid a gift tax.
  • The recipient can procure registration and license plates for the gifted vehicle when you take the title to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Some titles require notarisation. Signatures and dates should not be applied unless in the presence of a Notary.
  • If you do not have a copy of the car's title, you can contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or your lienholder to obtain one, only if your lien has recently been paid off.


Looking for the perfect car to surprise that special someone? As always, we recommend buying online with Motor Matcher.  

At Motor Matcher, everything we do is modelled around providing customers with the right tools and empowering them with rich information, helping customers make sound decisions when buying and selling cars. We offer a faster, simpler way to compare new and used cars online, creating an ideal and safe marketplace for all car buyers and sellers.

Start your search and visit today.