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Buying Your First Car? 8 Tips To Make The Best Choice

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Cars are expensive. Especially in Singapore, where prices are nothing short of astronomical. But if you’ve managed to scrimp and save enough to finally afford your own set of wheels (well done!), the plethora of choice can be mind-blowing for the beginner. How do you know which car is right for you?

An informed decision = the best choice

If you know pretty much nothing about cars, don’t fret. Our car guru Ben Chia is here for you, to guide you through a few simple steps. After all, an informed decision = the best choice. First of all, your… 

  1. Budget

    Obviously the bigger the budget, the greater the choices you will have. But let’s assume you’re just an average person with an average amount of cash in the bank (i.e. you’re not Bill Gates). So, set your budget, and from there you can see what is attainable given your finances. Try not to go over your budget because, well, that’s not a recipe for happiness.

  2. Status

    Are you single? Happily attached? Married? Have a brood of kids running about? Live with your parents? These things do kinda matter because they determine who will get to share ‘car time’ with you. If you’re a swinging single then feel free to go for that sporty convertible that has space for you and you alone. But if you have kids or parents to take care of then obviously that two-seater won’t be a good idea, so you might want to consider a larger SUV or MPV instead. Adjust to suit.

  3. What do you want to use it for?

    To drive, duh. Well, of course, but what else? Some people only drive too and from their homes and workplaces, so for them pretty much any car will do. But, as mentioned above, if you need to ferry passengers, then you need something that ideally has at least four doors and four seats. You don’t want to squeeze your kids into the tight confines of a sports car, unless you think that’s suitable punishment for misbehaviour. That’s entirely up to you...

  4. What do you like?

    After all that, now you get to think about your preferences. Do you like to look good? Then get something sleek and stylish. Do you like to go cycling? Then get something practical that can accommodate your bikes and stuff when you hit the trails on the weekend, like an SUV or a crossover. Are you a miser who hates spending money and time at petrol stations? Then get a fuel efficient car like a hybrid. Think about what’s most important to you. There’s a car out there just waiting for you. 

  5. Do you like driving the car?

    Even if you are on a tight budget, get a sense of how a better car model feels first through a test drive on the pricier options, before zooming in to your less expensive models shortlist. Remember, it may be worth shelling out the additional few hundred dollars for not just your own comfort and the feeling of safety, but also of others who are driving your car.

  6. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, but do so tactfully

    Politely ask the dealer if there are any ongoing promotions, discounts or freebies, especially if you can decide on a good deal on an earlier date. Another trick you could test out is to negotiate and wait a few days. The salesperson may come back to you with a better offer. Remember to only accept free add-ons like accessories that make sense to you, rather than fall prey to gimmicks for things or services you may not even use! Also, check out multiple dealers – take your time to shop around

  7. Get your car inspected (if buying second-hand)

    Pretty much a given, but always remember to get any used cars you’re seriously considering thoroughly checked out by a trusted mechanic. Also pay close attention to any small issues – even the sound of the engine may give you a clue to the state of the car. As before, you may want to test drive a new version if they’re still being sold at auto dealerships before test driving the used one.

  8. Check on your car insurance premium before buying your car!

    Our more budget-conscious readers will be happy to know that there are varying levels of costs to different makes and models. Do a comparison before deciding on which car to purchase if you are considering multiple models. We have also compiled a list of the Top 10 Everyday Car Models with the Cheapest Car Insurance to help you along!

Happy shopping!

For more car reviews and expert tips, look out for regular posts in this series. 

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