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Looking for your first car but do not know what to do or expect? Find out more here to make your buying experience a positive one.

Category: Car Buying Advice

First time buying a car? No worries, there is always a first time for everyone. If you have no one to guide you along, read on, and benefit from our advice.

What car model to get

Buying a car may be one of the biggest purchases in your life. As such, you should invest considerable time to think about what you want to prevent any impulse decision. When buying a car, you should narrow down your choices according to your needs and stick to your initial criteria so that you do not make a wrong choice. Ask yourself the following questions:

1) What is my budget
Set your budget, and DO NOT exceed it
2) What type of car do I need
Do you need a large MPV to ferry your whole family? Or is your driving so atrocious that you need a small car in order not to be too much of a road hazard?
3) What brand of car do I want
Narrow down your selection to a few brands. Choosing from too many brands can be very tiring and time-consuming. Generally, Japanese makes represent the best value-for-money. Korean, Malaysian and China makes are for buyers with tight budgets.

After answering these three questions, you should have shortlisted not more than five specific car models to consider. During the rest of the car selection and buying procedure, you will meet many car personnel who are very good at tempting and swaying the minds of people. You should be resolute and keep to your initial considerations.

When is a good time to buy a car

Newly launched car models are normally priced higher. Be patient and wait for a while for the price to drop before you make your purchase.

Promotions, anniversary discounts, roadshows, etc are mostly gimmicks thought by car dealers to attract buyers. The car prices are usually jacked up before the discounts. There is no need to make a hasty purchase decision during these so called "promotions".

The only time when car prices truly go down is when the COE price decreases. A genuine good buy is when the COE is low. The COE bidding closes every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month. It is not advisable to purchase a car within the three days before the COE closes. This is the period when most dealers will increase their prices to safeguard against COE spike increases.

Weekdays are best for visiting the showroom as it is less crowded. The sales personnel will tend to be more attentive and obliged to answer all your doubts.

Where is a good place to buy a car

Both Ubi and Leng Kee car belts have the highest concentration of authorized distributor showrooms. Parallel import dealers are mostly based at the seven car marts all over Singapore.

Car belts

- Ubi Car Belt - Along Eunos Link
- Leng Kee Car Belt - Along Alexandra Road and Leng Kee Road

Seven car marts

- Automobile Megamart
- Commonwealth Car Mall
- Leng Kee Car Mart
- Thomson Used Car Centre
- Turf City Auto Emporium
- West Coast Car Mart

What to do at the showroom

Visit a showroom only when you know exactly what you want

The car showroom is a place for interested buyers to view the car before they make the decision to purchase the car. It is advisable to bring along your family members, as they can offer valuable advice and feedback. Once you are there, be assured that there will be a car salesperson to attend to you (unless you are visiting the Toyota showroom which can be really crowded during weekends). Do not hesitate to clear your doubts with the salesperson. Tell him the car you are interested in and other car models you are considering. This way, he can explain to you the advantages of the particular model. Most models comes in a few variants and trim levels. You will have to decide on the model which suits your budget and requirements best. Do NOT feel obligated to buy from the salesperson who attends to you. You should be buying the car you like, not buying a car from the salesperson you like.

What to do during a test drive

Do NOT always just test drive the vehicles in your shortlist. First time buyers usually have little driving experience. They might find it hard to differentiate between a good car and a bad one. If you are aiming for a minimalist car like the Kia Picanto, test drive a better vehicle above your budget like the Toyota Vios. This way, you can make a more informed decision, knowing clearly what the Picanto lacks vis-à-vis the Vios. When going to the showroom to test drive, always ask friends and relatives to go along to obtain feedback from the passengers. You don't want to be the only one enjoying the comfort of your car.

Always get more people to go for the test drive with you. This way, you can know the performance of the car when its fully loaded.

Engine- For a start, try to stay in the range of 2,000 to 3,000 rpm as that is the region you are most likely to stay in during normal driving. On the straight road, step hard on the accelerator to see what is the time lag between you depressing the accelerator to the moment the car sprints off. Finally, check that the engine noise is tolerable.
Handling- If you are confident, take on a corner at a high speed. A good vehicle has little body roll. You should have full control of the car even at high speed.
Gearbox- A good automatic transmission shifts up or down with minimal jerk and should be responsive to your foot command.
Brakes- When doing test drive, always start off slow and 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. Do 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 items such as golf bags, do check with the sales person to see if they will fit. They will give you very good advice based on their experience. If it is convenient, you can even bring it down to the showroom to try the cabin space.

How To Negotiate

The car showroom is not a wet market. Do not go in straight with a price which is much lower than the listed price. Follow the steps below to negotiate for discounts.

1) Subtly ask the salesperson for discounts and freebies.
2) Make sure that the salesperson is offering you discounts and freebies above what the company is offering to the standard buyer. If he refuses, walk off and find another salesperson who is willing to do so.
3) After the salesman has quoted the discount, ask for a higher discount.
4) Pretend that you have a few friends and relatives interested in getting the same car. Hint that he will get all the deals as long as he grants you the discount you request.
5) If all else fails, ask for freebies. Sales personnel are more willing to give freebies rather than discounts.

Choosing the colour

Always choose the car model before deciding on the colour. Certain colours may not be available for certain models. The vehicle colour is up to personal preferences, but rational thinking should also come into play. It is advisable to choose metallic colours like silver and champagne for your car. Pure colours like white and black are difficult to maintain as they do not hide dirt and scratches well. Thus, they often require waxing and polishing.

How long must you wait for your car

Buying a car is not like going to a market, it is not cash-and-carry. The waiting time for the car can range from two weeks to six months. Before purchasing the car, always check with the salesperson on the expected waiting time to get your vehicle.

Making a booking

If you intend to make a booking for the vehicle, remember to bring along your I/C and income proof. Income proof is necessary for loan application. The next step is to place a booking fee to confirm your order. Payment can be either by Cash, Cheque, Credit Card or Nets. However, note that by default, Nets has only a withdrawal limit of S$2,000 per day. Booking fees may exceed S$2,000 depending on the car model. After having placed the booking fee, the sales executive will contact you again for your next stage of payment.

Usually the sales executive will contact you once your COE has been successfully bidded, and the second stage of payment would usually be one week before collection of the car. In Stage 2, payment will include the following:

1) Balance Payment on Car Price Less Loan Amount
2) 1st Installment of Loan
3) 1 Year Insurance Premium

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