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Used Cars in Singapore: Where to Buy and Why

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Driving a new car in Singapore can feel like riding around in an open wallet with dollar bills flying everywhere. If you want to avoid that feeling, buying a used car may be better therapy.

In the past, you would have gone straight to your nearest second-hand car dealer. Mission accomplished. Now, there are classified ads, forums and websites. In other words, choice. But with choice comes more than one question.

The car team at Budget Direct Insurance is here to provide the answers you need.

What if I want…?

1. The most choice for the least amount of effort

If this is your goal, a good second-hand car dealer is a good option. It’s the quickest way to see a range of cars within your budget. And if you take a friend who knows about cars (or a mechanic), you could check the car over and make a deal the same day.

“Based on their wide network of sources, some car dealers are also able to attain different types of cars such as trade-ins to give customers what they want.” sgcarmart.com

Try to hit the car lots around the end of the month. Car dealers are targeted on sales, and with monthly commission incentives near, you are more likely to negotiate a higher discount.

2. The most car for the least money

You can buy the car of your dreams at auctions via a bidding system. Auction cars are normally repossessed from those who cannot keep up their monthly loans. The auction is a way for the finance companies to make good some of their losses.

“In Singapore, car auctions are usually conducted via closed bidding where bids are to be sent in. Normally, there is no third party involved in the auction and interested buyers are usually able to view the cars before the auction, but no test drives are allowed.” sgcarmart.com

Cars sold at auction are cheaper than buying at a dealer. And if you are looking for a vintage car at a reasonable price, this may be the way to go.

Be aware that rebuilt and otherwise damaged cars can also be sold at auction. The cars do not normally have warranties and you will need to obtain affordable car insurance. Be sure to do your research before you bid.

3. The car no one else will have

If you are looking to be the person driving Steve McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang or you want to import your own car, here are the legal requirements -

  1. Compliance with Singapore’s Road Traffic Act Rules and its Subsidiary Legslations
  2. Registration inspection at LTA centre
  3. Safety glass to LTA standards
  4. Exhaust emission to NEA standards
  5. Right-hand drive
  6. Approved safety belts
  7. LTA approved car modifications
  8. Asbestos-free clutch and brake linings
  9. CFC-free air-conditioners
  10. Speedometer in km/h
  11. Less than three years old
  12. Payment surcharge of $10,000 for each imported used car in Singapore

Please check the LTA website for guidelines on self-importation and registration. Phew! You must really want that car...

4. Take my time and bargain down

Then buy a car direct from its owner. This way you can wait for the car you really want at the lowest price. The car you want may be anything from the cheapest available, to a Toyota/Lexus, to a Zonda.

If a Zonda owner is selling their car, you better believe they’ll be willing to bargain. Why? Because all the time that car is not sold it’s costing them their down payment for another car + maintenance fees ++. No one likes spending money on something they are trying to sell, so your bargaining power is high. Like great car insurance, there’s no middleman. And no expensive showroom to raise the price you pay for the car. Also, owners are more likely to tell you what the car is really like without the sales patter.

In most cases you will be able to test drive and see for yourself how the car handles.

The legal bit

You, as the buyer, pay for the car before getting car registration documents in your name. This can only happen after the car seller's loan has been cleared. You must also have car insurance in place before the transfer of ownership is approved.

5. Buy a pre-owned car without the risk

If COE prices increase, Singaporeans look more favourably at the lower costs of buying a pre-owned car. But, let’s be honest, some of us are not crazy about the risk attached to buying a car that has not just rolled out of the factory.

This is where authorised dealers come in.

Pre-owned cars from authorised dealers add significantly to the buyer’s peace of mind because all cars in this category undergo an extensive inspection. In addition, they often come with warranty and service guarantees.

6. Buy a pre-owned car without going for a test drive

This may be inconceivable to most Singaporean car buyers, especially when it comes to a pre-owned car. This is where companies like CARRO come in. To allay the fears of customers, CARRO is offering a three-day return policy and 30-day wear-and-tear guarantee for all cars purchased on their platform without a test drive.[1]

According to its blog, “Would you buy a used car with no test drive?”, this policy allows buyers to drive the car for three days with a maximum driving limit of 150km to decide whether the car is right for them. If unsatisfied with their purchase, they can return the car and choose another one as long as it’s within three days.[2]

7. Buy a secondhand car online

Digital car showrooms have been growing, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic; however, these are mainly for new cars. Buying a car without viewing it directly may seem a little far out to some people but with the pandemic, contactless buying appears to be gaining traction.

And it makes sense to extend this to secondhand cars as well. To keep safe, you may want to check out online portals like motorist.sg which offer a range of used cars from luxury marques like Volvos and Aston Martins, alongside other more affordable marques like Toyota and Kia.[3]


[1] https://carro.sg/blog/buy-car-with-no-test-drive/
[2] https://carro.sg/blog/buy-car-with-no-test-drive/
[3] https://www.motorist.sg/used-cars

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