How to Save Money Buying Used Cars in Singapore

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 06 March, 2017

Buying used cars in Singapore direct from owner can help you avoid unnecessary costs.

With Singapore’s famously high car prices, Singaporeans may find it difficult to own and maintain a car. Those who need a vehicle for personal use often have to weigh the benefits of car ownership against sacrificing a significant portion of the household budget.

If you require a personal vehicle, but are leery of the financial commitment, try looking to the used car market instead. You might be able to find a vehicle that can suit your needs just fine, without you having to stretch your budget to the breaking point.

Granted, the used-car industry has gained somewhat of a reputation for being a financial minefield - whether deserved or not. With stories about problematic cars and shady sales practices popping up every now and then, it can be difficult to feel confident shopping for a used car.

With the proper tools and tips, it is completely possible to find a good used vehicle at a great price. Follow these tips to help you find your ideal car.

Buy Direct From the Owner

We don’t mean to pile on and beat up a tired stereotype, but there’s a reason why the sleazy used-car salesman is such a common trope.

The problem with dealerships are the additional fees they can slap on you as they please. These ‘admin fees’ and ‘bank charges’ (or whatever vaguely legit names they wanna call them) don’t come cheap, they can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. And, this is on top of the normal sales charges.

Even if your car dealer graciously offers you a waiver on the extra fees, they could pad the selling price of your vehicle instead. A few hundred dollars isn’t exactly difficult to hide in a 5-figure transaction.

Besides the obvious savings here, buying direct from seller can prove to be a much more straightforward affair. This is because most car owners don’t need to earn a commission - they just want to sell you their old vehicles.

Car sales websites like SG Car Mart or Carro, and apps such as Carousell Motors can help you get in touch with owners looking to sell their cars. Launched by the same people that gave you Carousell, Carousell Motors lets you browse for second-hands cars on your mobile phone or laptop.

You can even use the handy filters included to help narrow down the list, making it easier for you to make your choice.

Buy Only From Reputable Sources

It seems obvious that we should only buy from a reputable dealer or seller, but when the opportunity to save a couple of thousand dollars shows up, caution can get thrown to the wind. Often right along with logic.

The risk of buying second-hand is that you may unwittingly get stuck with unforeseen problems. When it comes to a big-ticket item like a car, arming yourself with all the information you can get is crucial for making sure you don’t end up with a bad purchase.

One quick way to determine if things are above-aboard is by how readily you can find essential information on the second-hand vehicle you are interested in.

Watch out for whether the vehicle’s listing includes critical details such as registration information, road tax, market value and any outstanding traffic violations. This allows you to form a clear picture of the state of the vehicle and the type of deal you are getting yourself into.

If the owner or dealer isn’t able to provide such information readily, you should reconsider the deal. There could be something shady going on which you don’t want to be a part of.

Widen Your Search Pool

You have only so many hours in a day you can spend on hunting down a suitable car. Pair that fact with the effort required to visit one dealership after another, and you’ll be inclined to stick to just a few locations.

Even if you hang out in car forums, or regularly surf websites, you likely rotate amongst just a few sites.

Because humans are inherently unwilling to buy from an unfamiliar source, when it comes time to buy, you will most likely limit yourself to the few dealerships or sellers you got to know through your online community.  

The net result is, willingly or not, you are limiting yourself to shopping from a smaller pool of options. While you could well end up with an ok vehicle, you might be passing up the chance for a truly satisfying purchase.

Hence, you’ll want to widen your search pool as much as possible, to maximise your chances of finding your dream car. Try using an app like Carousell Motors which provides a high number of listings from both owners and dealerships.

The more listings you can see, the more you will be able to gauge what a reasonable price should be.

If you need to get your secondhand car repaired, and your insurance doesn't cover the damage, you can fund it with a personal loan. Use SingSaver comparison portal to compare personal loans for car repairs. Do note that you should not be using personal loans to pay for downpayments on your car.

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Alevin ChanBy Alevin Chan

A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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