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Used Cars Buying Guide: Tips on Buying a Secondhand Car

DirectAsia Insurance_car salesman handing over the key for a new car to a young businessman in front of the white car

Dos and Don’ts when buying a used car

Reading time: 7 mins

The processes and systems involved when buying a used car can sometimes be complicated. In some cases, buyers get into transactions that are unfavorable and cripple their chances of getting a good vehicle to fit their requirements. To resolve that issue, we have compiled the best used cars buying tips.

Things to do when buying a second-hand car

Conduct proper research using the best tools at your disposal

This action is a fundamental step to get the right second-hand vehicle that fits your needs. It is vital because your negotiations and essentially every other step of the deal are hinged on how much information you have at your disposal before the time of purchase. Research is so important to purchase plans because it allows you to work within your budget and get the best outcome possible.

You can do that by visiting an online used car website and selecting the vehicle of your choice. Some top websites you can visit are as follows.

SG Car Mart

Singapore Autos


Additionally, there are some important things to take note of, which includes: Year of manufacture of the vehicle.

  • For how long has the vehicle been in use?
  • Has the vehicle been serviced regularly?
  • What are its recurring issues?
  • Has it ever been in an accident?

These will help you to make a more informed decision.

Determine when to and when not to proceed with the deal

This takes center stage as a mutual understanding between the parties to the transaction is vital. The cars available at the dealership are not placed to discourage the buyer; thus, each vehicle's financial costs are provided. As a buyer, you have to assess the scenarios and see if it’s in your favour.

  • The dealer is prepared to negotiate.
  • The mechanic has carried out an inspection and given approval.
  • The vehicle documents are available for you to view.

However, you can refuse to proceed when the deal is not favorable. Such scenarios include the following.

  • The price is far above your budget.
  • The vehicle is missing key features.
  • Important documents such as maintenance records are missing.

The above criteria will help you to make the right decision and save time.

Always find the best price.

It is important to determine whether the price being displayed is the actual price. It will ensure that the money saved from the discount is not spent in the final transaction stage when you seek a discount. To avoid this, ask for the vehicle's final price along with other attached fees from the onset of the transaction.

Ask for servicing and maintenance records.

Regardless of the intention of getting the vehicle, the ultimate goal is to get one that will last for a long time. It is a proven fact that a vehicle that has been serviced regularly will function more efficiently and last a longer time despite the car's age. To determine the longevity potential of the used car you're getting, you must get access to the servicing and maintenance history from the moment of the deal's inception.

Have the car been thoroughly inspected

It is slowly becoming a trend with car dealerships that certain sellers of second-hand cars have been known to alter vehicle accident histories, forge maintenance records, and provide false information about the vehicles' body parts. Thus, a buyer must be prepared to hire an independent mechanic or vehicle expert to review the used car they are about to purchase to avoid being misled.

Take the vehicle for a test drive.

Regardless of how accurate the provided information on the vehicle for purchase is, some faults and issues may still exist. The possibility of these faults being present is why you must test the vehicle before buying it. Take it for a test drive to get a good feel, as this can help you discover any hidden faults and determine if the used car you've selected is a good fit.

Make sure a contract is prepared and a third party is present

At this stage, you have decided on the vehicle you would like to purchase. This leads you to the crucial task of signing the contract. Do take time to understand all the details provided in the contract. This will prevent you from incurring any hidden fees.

As an extra measure, have an independent third-party present to serve as a witness. This ensures that the contract cannot be modified by the party making the sale.

Things to avoid when buying used cars

Image credit: SGCARMART.COM

Certain factors and actions can negatively affect the used car purchase deal. These include the following.

Limiting your options

It is never good to strike a deal with the first dealer you come across. In Singapore, there are numerous dealerships, and you won't know which one is the best for you until you’ve checked most of them out. Another dealership might have your ideal car in better shape and at a cheaper rate, so be patient and explore more.

Inability to restrain your excitement

Like regular shopping, there is a tendency to get excited when you find the exact product you've wanted. However, this will backfire when buying secondhand cars as it will give the dealer reasons not to lower his price and ultimately make negotiations hard. Try to contain your excitement over a particular unit and maintain an air of disinterest to ensure you stay on equal footing with the dealer when negotiations start.

Lack of knowledge on your rights as a customer.

The need to know your rights as a buyer of second-hand cars cannot be stressed enough. When buying used cars, there is a possibility that the dealer might take advantage of your lack of proper information on what you are entitled to as a customer.

It is worth noting that all Singapore consumers are protected by the Lemon Law, which was implemented in 2012 to protect customers from defective goods. Concerning buyers of used cars, this allows them to gain access to legal recourse against dealers if the car that has been purchased begins to malfunction from the moment it is acquired. A buyer can report a defective car within six months from when it was delivered, and a burden is placed on the retailer to prove that the defect that has been reported did not exist at the vehicle was delivered.

Essentially, being aware of your rights is crucial to getting good value for your money.

Opting for a new car when a used one is available.

Buying a new car certainly has its perks as it can give you that added air of confidence and comfort you may have always wanted. However, new vehicles will always have a higher depreciation value than used cars. It is also important to consider the Singapore lifestyle where vehicles should be bought for practical reasons. With these in mind, do prioritize getting a used car in immaculate condition instead of a new car which may be saddled with financial complications.

Having little to no knowledge about possible hidden costs

It is an established fact that specific fees are added in buying used cars, such as an admin fee of $500. In some cases, the price of the car may increase if the buyer does not take a car loan or insurance from the dealer in question.

This possibility is why we reiterate the need to find out about any additional costs that may cripple you financially.  It will help to ensure a win-win situation for both parties and avoid any unnecessary complications.

Making a purchase based on appearance and not on functionality

It's not a surprise that certain cars on display would appeal more than others. This factor has led to most buyers spending on coupes and convertibles and end up neglecting one simple truth; Cars are depreciating assets. Over time, the outcome is that the vehicle's value will continue to drop, and the buyer is left with the decision they have made for a long time without the opportunity to reverse it.

To avoid this, it is recommended that you focus on factors like comfort, available room inside the vehicle, age of the occupants, etc. This approach will allow you to get a vehicle you will be contended with and last for a long time.

Buying a vehicle while under pressure

It is a regular business occurrence that a dealer will attempt to make the deal very appealing and attractive, considering the possible high profitability from the sale. This strategy can cause a buyer to make wrong choices under unnecessary pressure.

Such hassles can be easily avoided by carrying out a thorough inspection of the vehicle and, if necessary, taking the car for a test drive. Additionally, we have already mentioned that there are many dealerships in Singapore. If you are not comfortable with how the current deal is going, you can always walk away and find another dealership.

What is Your Next Move?

Now you've gone through our used car buying guide. The next step would be to find out which car insurance would best suit your needs for the vehicle you are about to purchase. At DirectAsia, we provide a personalized service on your car insurance policy that meets your requirements and at your budget. Contact us today, and we will draw up a quote on your personalized insurance policy.