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How to buy a used car in singapore

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How to buy a used car in singapore

Postby taxico » Sat, 27 Oct 2012 10:32 pm


The following guide, while written in a haphazard, post-call lack of sleep and beer induced haze, should be taken seriously by you, the expat looking to purchase his/her first car in Singapore. Even if you don't like reading words typed in UPPERCASE FORM with REGULARITY, I strongly suggest you struggle through this.

This short guide does not cover how you should bargain, nor does it go into the technicalities of owning a car in Singapore or buying a used car. Those are tales for another time... It is here to tell you what you should do to not get shafted by used car sales men.

After navigating through a maze of used car lots and encountering used car salesmen that have the ability to sidle along side you, at speeds upward of 15kmph (or 60mph)...

Every where you turn, you've been told how wonderful and reliable each and every vehicle is, including the 28 year old 550cc (or 0.1 liters) Daihatsu Hijet Van (japanese for "Dying van the size of a texan rancher's Hat, Sucker!"), which curiously emits oil and black smoke each time someone casts a look at it, causing the over friendly salesman to kick dirt in the direction of the Hijet.

But now, you've finally found... The Car. All that's left between you and ownership of a motor car in Singapore, is to conclude the deal. Thankfully there isn't much of them running to/fro the manager's office, trying to make sure you get The Best Deal Possible.

In Singapore, the manager tries to insulate himself from all possible problems the result of a Deal Gone South. You may catch a glimpse of him from time to time, or so you think. Or it could be just the Singapore humidity. SNAP OUT OF IT, MAN!

Once the $ figure for the car has been finalized, you shall be presented with a contract in a guise of a "form" and told there are various fees you'll have to pony up. The most common one being a "administration" or "processing" fee.

In local lingo, this is called KOPI LUI (or COFFEE MONEY)(really)(no, really!). This is an additional cost added to the final price of the vehicle FOR NO JUSTIFIABLE REASON but you cannot find a used car lot that does not impose this fee as part of a sale. Those that don't, I assume, are quickly eaten by other sales men. Literally. This fee is non-negotiable, for the most part, but your mileage may vary (YMMV).

Another common fee is the TRANSFER FEE imposed by the government. This has now been changed into a flat $11 amount. Yes, you should try to finagle this princely $11 into an amount to be absorbed by them. Again, YMMV.

Other fees and surcharges include ones imposed if you were to locate your own insurer (for car insurance) or your own financing plan (for... car financing). It is best to ask how much, if such fees are imposed (they almost always are), they would amount to. I recommend you bargain these fees down prior to signing the contract.

When you have done so, please locate the REMARKS or OTHER REMARKS column in the proposed contract and WRITE IT DOWN WITH A PEN. Prior to signing the contract.

You should also, if possible, ask for the vehicle to be inspected by an independent vehicle inspection company (STA or VICOM, etc). I believe the inspector goes around and carefully knocks at various parts of the car, all the while listening attentively for the lunch break alarm (WHOOP WHOOP!).

At the end of the process, you should get a Category B evaluation report for most cars, or Category A if the car has been owned previously by an anal-retentive Singaporean. Category C means there has been collision damage, and if you were to purchase this vehicle, you would be harming your family and yourself as no other fool in Singapore would possibly purchase this car off you in future, even for $1, and they would laugh at you... you foolish you... And this would make you feel hopeless, inadequate and useless. Accept the car only if it's rated Cat A or B, is what I'm trying to say, and WRITE THIS DOWN UNDER "REMARKS" prior to signing the contract.

The inspection cost is between $90-$150. As always, try to make them pay as much of it as possible. YMMV.

If you're taking a financing package through the used car company, WRITE DOWN THE INTEREST RATE(S) AND REPAYMENT TERMS AND AMOUNT YOU ARE BORROWING. Write down the fact that if the FINANCING IS NOT APPROVED BASED ON THE REPAYMENT PLAN YOU DESIRE, THE CONTRACT IS NULL AND VOID. If you're not, write it down too. Prior to signing the contract.

If you're taking an insurance policy through the used car company, WRITE DOWN THIS IS FOR THE FIRST YEAR ONLY. If you took out an insurance policy through them by choice (you fool), then write down HOW MUCH THE PREMIUMS MUST NOT EXCEED, failing which the CONTACT IS NULL AND VOID. If you're not, write it down too. Prior to signing the contract.

All the problems you've noticed while inspecting the car before and after your test drive, you should have used to push the price down. If you haven't, then please do so. Now pull them out again to get them rectified. Eg, squeaky suspension, suspicious struts, door rubber lining coming loose, steam cleaning the interior, paint touch ups. YMMV, but write whatever they'll agree to fix down.

Other things to be negotiated AND WRITTEN DOWN UNDER REMARKS during The Close (prior to signing the contract):

* Warranty period (the new Lemon Laws have kicked in, so you're pretty much protected but since YMMV it may may be a good idea to write down what is covered and/or not covered)

* Accessories to be fitted (prior to receiving your The Car or at a later date after getting your The Car) (What accessories, you ask? All Singapore cars must be fitted with accessories BY LAW! Okay, maybe not. I don't know what these accessories are, but they may include a big box of kleenex encased in some woolen decorative cover and soft toys) (I don't know and I don't want to know why!)

Technology has advanced. We all (okay, almost) have cell phones with a bajillion-megapixel (or 10 pigs or 15 pixies) camera. Use it! Take as many pictures of the car as possible so they can't swop things out. You think they won't do it if they could? YOU THINK THE SINGAPORE USED CAR SALESMEN POLICE FORCE WILL BE HERE TO ARREST THEM AND PUT THEM IN USED CAR SALESMEN PRISON (used car convention) IF THEY DID THAT? You think wrong. Anyway, just take pictures of whatever's of value and not nailed down or rivted to the car. Prior to signing the contract.

Then, ask for a full break down of the price and include the final figure you have to pay FOR YOU TO DRIVE THE CAR AWAY aka THE "REAL AMOUNT" aka NO MORE ADDING ON FEE$. Prior to signing the contract.

Now, you can make like you're ready to Pay The Deposit. This is usually about 10% of the price of the car (not the final figure you have to pay). More is better... for the used car salesmen, so less is better for you. YMMV. As always, WRITE THIS AMOUNT DOWN UNDER REMARKS AS PAID BY CHEQUE/CASH, etc. Prior to signing the contract.

Finally, before you ACTUALLY pay the deposit, write down how long they have to do everything that's listed on the proposed contract, eg, 1 week or 2 weeks, failing which THE CONTRACT IS NULL AND VOID AND YOU WILL GET YOUR DEPOSIT BACK AND YOU WILL NOT ACCEPT A REPLACEMENT CAR UNDER NO CONDITIONS WHATSOEVER EVEN IF IT'S A NEWER MAKE/MODEL OF THE CAR YOU WISH TO BUY. Yes, this must be written under the remarks column. Prior to signing the contract.

If this last point is not agreed to, DO NOT PAY THEM A DIME. You must, of course, not have signed anything at this point.

They will usually agree, albeit reluctantly, to all your terms because in all actuality, you'd have still overpaid for the car. But that's okay as you know you could have done much worse.

Good luck, peon, and safe journeys!

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