4 things to look out for when you’re buying a used car in Singapore

The 4 things you need to look out for when buying used cars - Carousell

Now that you finally realised that buying a secondhand car is way more affordable than a brand new one, it’s time to find a car dealer to help you to secure your dream car. Your first car may not be an Aston Martin, but it will still cost you a lot of money. 

Finding the right car dealer for a secondhand car can be quite a stressful experience, especially when there are some car dealers using scare tactics to get you to buy their used cars. Although most car dealers in Singapore can be trusted, some do employ unscrupulous ways to get you to sign on the dotted line. Whether it’s Carousell Autos or SG CarMart you use, let’s go through some tactics you need to look out for when you’re at a car dealer.

  1. Has the odometer been tampered with?
  2. Is the car you want suddenly “out of stock”?
  3. Are you pressured to sign a blank hire purchase form?
  4. What are ALL the charges that you have to pay?

1. Has the odometer been tampered with?

Don’t buy a used car that has a tampered odometer. An odometer is an instrument that measures the distance travelled on your car. It can be found on your car’s dashboard, and odometer tampering is actually very common in current pre-owned dealerships. 

Browse through a used car classified ads and phrases like “Low mileage” and “Family’s second car, seldom used” appear once in every four to five car listings. With car prices that high, would someone really buy a brand new car and leave it at home most of the time?

It is also all too common to see a used car that supposedly only has “30,000km” clocked being driven into a workshop for repairs typically required in a high mileage car. 

The best way to make sure you don’t buy a used car that has been tampered with is to request for its full service records. It will not only tell you if the car has been properly maintained but also the true mileage of the car.

If such records are not available, your next best bet would be to “guess-timate” using the age of the car. Taking the average mileage of 20,000km that Singaporeans clock yearly, multiply that by the age of the car to get a rough estimate of what the mileage is. 

True mileage = 20,000 x (Age of car) 

Check the mileage against your inspection of the bodywork and interiors. A worn-out interior points to high usage. If the claimed mileage was said to be “27,000km” for a 3-year-old car but has extremely worn-out interiors, the claim is probably fake. You can consider conducting a pre-purchase inspection using Carousell Inspected to get a full picture. 


2. Is the car you want suddenly “out of stock”?

Do not be forced into buying a vehicle that you do not feel comfortable with. Only proceed ahead with the deal when you are 100% satisfied with the price, condition of the car, and any after-sales support promised to you. Certain dealers, desperate to move their stock, may resort to aggressive sales tactics to persuade potential customers into paying more for the used car. 

A very common tactic includes advertising a car – perhaps the popular Mitsubishi Attrage –  at a super low price, only to claim that the advertisement is outdated or the car is out-of-stock once a potential customer asks about it. The car dealer will then encourage the customer to buy another similar car, but this time, it’s priced higher than what was advertised. Do the smart thing and walk away. You’re the customer and you have every right to say no to such misleading advertisements. 

You can always browse for similar cars on Carousell Autos instead of standing there at the dealership listening to this dealer’s sales pitch. Even better, read this guide to buying used cars in Singapore before you even step into a dealership. 


3. Are you pressured to sign a blank hire purchase form?

Never sign any blank forms. While it’s positioned as “less trouble for you,” it is akin to signing a blank cheque. 

Paperwork is troublesome for everyone – especially when you need to make multiple trips to sign different papers when it comes to buying a used car in Singapore. In order to make the process smoother, dealers might request that you sign on a blank portion of the hire purchase form.  Leaving your signature on a blank piece of paper leaves the dealer to fill in whatever he wants. You might return to the dealer on a separate trip to find that the loan amount that you had agreed with the dealer has increased due to some random “administrative fees”. Siao liao. 

So the point is this: Never sign any blank forms. If it means that you have to make that extra trip or two, do it. It is better to know exactly what you are signing than to regret when the bill comes.


4. What are ALL the charges that you have to pay?

It is vital that all charges are agreed upon between you and the dealer. Have the dealer list down all the costs you need to pay when buying a used car and go through each line item to make sure you know what you are paying for. Always read through the fine print carefully and point out any clause you are not sure about to the sales executive. You do not want to end up paying more for unnecessary charges! 

A tip if you want to save some money: More often than not, there’s an “Administration Fee” amounting to a few hundred dollars on your bill that can be waived if you ask nicely. This fee is the charge for handling the paperwork that is required to buy a secondhand car in Singapore (such as loan application, insurance application, etc). 

Although it is standard practice amongst dealers, it is a cost that you can negotiate to reduce or remove. The dealership would have already earned from the markup price of the car, the commission from bank loans and the commission on the insurance that you sign with them.

However, if you deem that the sales executive and the dealership as a whole had done a good job in helping you through the process, you can pay that few hundred dollars as a sign of good-will.

The 4 things you need to look out for when buying used cars - Carousell

While buying a used car will not be as expensive as a brand new car, it still costs quite a bit. Don’t be afraid to ask when you are not clear. If you feel like you need extra help to guide you through the complicated process of buying a used car in Singapore, reach out to the kind team at SwiftQuote who can help you in a jiffy.



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