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Buying a used car in Singapore? Stay SAFE + protect your purchase

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The number of complaints from customers buying second-hand cars is a cause for concern, say consumer watchdogs in Singapore.

According to the latest statistics, around 1,477 buyers made formal complaints about being sold defective cars in 2016.

In response the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) has devised a comprehensive checklist to help safeguard you when buying a used car.


The Standard and Functional Evaluation, known as the (much easier to say) SAFE Checklist, is intended as a guide to ensure used car buyers are informed about what they’re getting.

What is the SAFE checklist?

The checklist gives details of the car including its basic functions and visual checks that dealers should go through with you before you buy. It also gives details of minimum checks carried out by professional evaluation centres such as Vicom, STA Inspection and the AA.  The checklist is then signed by you and the dealer.

Download the SAFE checklist here 

Lemon Law

If any defect is found within six months of the car’s delivery, the dealer has to resolve the issues and carry out any repairs. If this doesn’t happen within a reasonable time you’re entitled to ask for your money back.

This six-month rule is nothing new and is known as Singapore’s Lemon Law introduced in 2012. The onus is on the dealer, however, to prove that the car was not defective at the time of delivery. 

And establishing the condition of the car at the point of purchase has sometimes been tricky.

The Consumer Association is hoping that the new SAFE Checklist will help protect buyers by giving fuller documented details about the car’s condition when it was bought.

Protect your purchase 

Apart from the SAFE Checklist, it’s still advisable to get an evaluation report costing about $150, a small price to pay for peace of mind and costlier repair bills further down the road.

Although the SAFE checks are not mandatory don’t be afraid to walk away if dealers are reluctant to go through them with you. A good, reputable dealer will be happy to oblige.

At the moment there are 35 used car traders on the scheme and CASE is encouraging more to join.

Here are some of the things the SAFE checklist advises you to look for:

  • All headlights and headlamps are functional.
  • Air-conditioning remains cold for a prolonged period after the air-conditioning is turned on. If not, indicate unsatisfactory.
  • The In-Vehicle Unit (IU) is able to read and detect the value of the CashCard inserted.
  • Windscreen wipers are able to function at different speeds and there are no abnormal sounds.
  • Side windows can be wound down and up using the applicable buttons and there are no abnormal sounds.

Buying a used car? Check out our great deals on car insurance at Budget Direct Insurance Singapore.

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