How to buy a 2nd hand car in Singapore

Buying a used car or 2nd hand car in Singapore can be a painless affair. Let Singcarpore show you the process from start to end; and you too, can be one happy used-car owner.

So, where do we start? What do we do? How does one go about purchasing a used car exactly? Is it simply a mere act of waltzing down the car parks and pasting a note onto a car’s windshield with your offer of purchase when you spot a car you fancy?

Of course not. Don’t do that, you hooligan.

The very first thing you do is always to browse the online classifieds if you’re efficient, or lazy, like me. There are several car portals and forums in Singapore giving owners a place to list their cars for sale. “Owners” in this case can also refer to used car dealers.

Finding a reputable car dealer who won’t rip you off is a totally different matter for which I shall not go into (for now).

Anyway, you’ve shortlisted several cars and are ready to make the purchase. What now?

First, are you buying direct from the owner or from a used car dealership? Car portals usually list this bit of detail. Look for the words “Direct Owner”. It’s crucial. Otherwise, you’re likely looking at the car sold by an agent. This usually means the price is marked up.

So, let’s talk about dealerships. Find a contact number. Call the salesman and ask if the car is available. Don’t go right out to haggle and bombard the fella with questions. Don’t be an ass.

Ask if it’s alright to call. Then, call. Set a date and time to view the car. You may bring along a friend (or a professional F1 mechanic). Make sure he’s an adrenaline junkie with an unquenchable thirst for speed and all things petrol (or gas). Ask questions when you are there, and note the defects, things that ought to work but don’t, touch and smell everything.

Does the car leak? By leak, I mean underneath the engine bay, the sides, the rear. Check every nook and crevice. You may just find a dead cockroach in the glove box. I’m kidding. I’m not.

So, the car looks good. It runs well. You’re pleased with everything and can’t wait to drive off.

Hold up.

You need valid car insurance. You can buy it straight from the dealership who will typically settle the documents for you with insurance companies, or buy and complete the documents yourself from your preferred choice of agent.

Typically, car dealerships require you to place a deposit if you do not already have insurance ready. The deposit is basically you saying “Yes, I want this car and I will pay the full amount when I get my insurance documents ready too.” You can’t drive a car without insurance okay?

This is law. You’re not a lawyer. Don’t even try anything else.

Assume you are getting your own insurance. Contact your insurance agent and have him hook you up with the necessary documents. He will ask for the license plate, make, model and year of manufacture for the vehicle. Give it all to him. All of it.

Meet your agent, pass him the cash, look through the insurance documents and sign. Then, meet him again and have him pass you the insurance certificate which states that you are now legally insured for the vehicle which you are about to purchase.

Take the insurance certificate, make your way back to the dealership, withdraw your money and pass it to the salesman. He will photocopy your insurance certificate and gobble the cold hard cash. Or, don’t withdraw the money. Bank transfer is fine. Side note, you can also have your agent email you the insurance certificate, and you forward it to the dealership. That’s fine.

Now, I hear you say, “this car costs $50,000, how do I transfer that amount of cash?” Assume you are using DBS bank. We all do, right? Ask for the account number of the dealership and then perform the transfer in front of the salesman. Note that you’d have to go into your account settings to change the transfer limit. This requires you to have your 2-factor device and mobile phone by your side. Do this before you arrive at the dealership.

Now, they have the cash (digital or physical), photocopied insurance certificate and your NRIC. All is well. Barring any problems, take the keys and drive off into the hot and balmy uniquely Singaporean weather.

Don’t forget your cashcard, parking coupons, and season parking.



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