What to Look Out for When Buying a Car

Buying a car is no mean feat, especially for first time buyers. What makes it even more intimidating is the high cost of car ownership in Singapore and the tonnes of choices that comes along. In order to not get carried away by the honeyed words of the car dealers, I have compiled a list of points to consider when purchasing and selecting a car.

1. Time Your Purchase

Car dealers earn their commissions on a month to month basis. It is recommended to time your car purchase near the end of month as the car dealers will most likely accept lower offers to hit their sales quota. Newly launched car models are usually priced higher. Another good time to visit a car dealership is at the end of a model’s year as the car dealers may want to get rid of their old car models. 

Most car dealerships are busier on weekends. If you have spare time on weekdays, drop by during their non-peak period as this is the time where you can have the full attention of the car dealers. They can answer all the questions that you have and are more willing to throw in freebies to seal the deal.

Ignore the promotions, discounts and roadshows offered by the car dealers. The prices are usually jacked up before the discounts. There is no real cost savings involved. Buy only when the COE price drops. Do not time your purchase within three days before the COE bidding period closes because this is when the car dealers will usually increase their prices to safeguard against the COE spike in price.

2. Choice between Authorised Dealers and Parallel Importers

Authorised Dealers (AD)

  • More reliable
  • Better after-sales support in the form of warranty, free servicing
  • Well-stocked with replacement parts. They are obliged to keep spare parts even after the models have stopped production.
  • Cars are most likely to be compatible for Singapore roads 
  • Cars tend to be more expensive
  • Tend to be large companies 
  • Allow test drive of vehicles 
  • Tend to import cars from countries with lower operation cost. There may be some comprises to the vehicles’ workmanship.

Parallel Importers (PI)

  • Cars are usually cheaper 
  • Carry a wider range of car models
  • After-sales support less reliable. The warranties are tied to 3rd party workshops and other service providers and they are not obliged to keep spare parts.
  • You might be dealing with many different parties throughout the ownership of your car
  • Cars are imported from the brand’s country of origin, and may not be suitable for Singapore roads
  • Mostly small companies
  • Most of them do not allow test drive of vehicles 
  • Imports the cars from the brand’s country of origin. The workmanship of the cars may be better. 

3. Decide on the Car Model

Bentley Bentayga V8 Design Series
Japanese cars are the best value-for-money and longevity. Japanese cars are better in terms of speed because their cars are lighter than the average Continental car. 
Japanese cars tend to have better resales value than continental cars.
Continental cars are known for quality, engineering, luxury and comfort. They are better in terms of handling and steering. Continental cars have more acceleration and power than Japanese cars. Also, in terms of quality and safety, they are better as they come fitted with several safety functions.
Korean, Malaysian and China cars are for buyers with tight budgets.

4. Test Driving the Cars

Test drive more than one vehicle even if you have made your choice before heading down to the car dealer. Test drive a few cars in your range and a better vehicle above your range so that you will be able to make an informed comparison knowing what your ideal car lacks or not. 

Always bring your friends or relative along so that you have a feel of how the car performs when it is running on full load.


  • Try to stay in the range of 2000 to 3000 RPM as that is the range you are most likely to stay in during normal driving
  • Step hard on the accelerator when you are on a straight road to see what is the time lag between stepping on the accelerator to the moment the car speeds off
  • Check that the engine noise is tolerable


  • Take on a corner at high speed. A good vehicle has little body roll. You should have full control of the car even at high speed.


  • A good automatic transmission gearbox shifts up or down with minimal jerk and should be responsive to your foot command


  • Try to grasp the car’s braking characteristic
  • Some brakes are highly sensitive and the braking response comes almost immediately after you set your foot on the pedal.

Cabin Space 

  • Adjust the driver’s seat to your preferred driving position
  • Check with your friends and relatives to see if there is sufficient leg room at the rear cabin for comfortable seating.

Boot Space 

  • If you occasionally haul around bulky items such as golf bags, do check with the car dealer to see if they will fit. 
  • If convenient, bring it along to the showroom to try out the cabin space

Source: SgCarMart

5. How To Negotiate

    Bentley Continental GT

  • Ask the car dealer for discounts and freebies
  • Make sure that the car dealer is offering you discounts and freebies above what the company is offering to the standard buyer. If he/she refuses to, find another car dealer who is willing to do so.
  • After the salesman has quoted the discount, ask for a higher discount.
  • If all else fails, ask for freebies. Car dealers are more willing to give freebies rather than discounts.

6. Choosing the Colour

It is recommended to choose metallic colours such as silver and champagne for your car. Block colours like white and black are difficult to maintain as they do not hide dirt and scratches well. They often require waxing and polishing which eats into the cost of maintenance.

7. Waiting Time for the Car 

The waiting time for the car can range from two weeks to six months. Check with the Car dealer on the ETA for your vehicle.

Unless it is a second hand car.

8. Making a booking

  • Bring along your identification card and proof of income for your car loan application
  • The next step is to place a booking fee to confirm your order
  • The car dealer will contact you once your COE has successfully bidded
  • The second stage of payment would usually be one week before collection of the car. 
    • Payment includes the following:-
    • Balance Payment on Car Price Less Loan Amount
    • 1st Installment of Loan
    • 1 Year Insurance Premium

Source: Singapore Legal Advice, Motorist.sg, SgCarMart

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