For the average Singaporean, there a few big-ticket expenses that mark a significant milestone in life. From your first house to your first honeymoon and first car — these are moments that deserve to be celebrated but also approached with caution due to the huge financial commitments required.
If you’ve stumbled upon this article as a first-time car buyer, great! Kudos for doing the research necessary to make an informed decision. While it is exciting to dream about the freedom and thrill of driving your first car, come back to Earth for a moment and watch out for these 5 common mistakes first-time car buyers make.
Be Very Clear On What You’ll Be Using the Car For
We get it. While the Ferraris and the Porsches are very pretty to look at and a dream to drive — they’ll kill you when it comes to fuel costs if you’re driving one for daily commutes. Think carefully about how you’ll be using the car now and in the future and get a model that will meet your needs.
Will you be driving it daily to work and using it for weekend shopping trips? Good fuel economy should be your priority, as well as a comfortable cabin to keep you relaxed in traffic. Will you be starting a family soon? Amble backseat space and child-safety features are something to look out for.
Do Your Own Research and Background Checks
Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, and while it is easy to trust your friend’s or family’s recommendations — it’s important for you to make your own judgement. Whether it is the model of the car or the car dealership, make use of the variety of online sources available to see what reviewers and customers are saying.
Online forums such as sgCarMart and MyCarForum are excellent car communities where you can find discussions and opinions on how specific car models are like to live with. You can also join car owner clubs on Facebook for the model you’re looking at to get first-hand opinions from other drivers.
For dealerships, make sure you trawl through their social media reviews to get a sense of their reputation. You can even look through their Facebook posts and see how they respond to customer queries to gauge their customer service.
Financing without a Clear Budget in Mind
First-time car buyers are often overwhelmed by the amount of seemingly attractive loan packages thrown at them by dealers. You’ll often see words like “low monthly payments”, “zero downpayment” or “low-interest rates” used to entice customers into entering long-term loan schemes that ultimately cost more overall.
Be sure not to take such arrangements at face value and always calculate how much the total cost of the car will be once payment is fulfilled. You should also put a number to other running costs you’ll inevitably encounter once you own the car, such as average monthly petrol costs and scheduled maintenance fees. Some dealers offer packages that help to offset these running costs and drive the total fee down, such as free maintenance for a number of years.
Ignoring the Used Car Market
While we understand the appeal of owning something completely new that is yours and yours alone — first-time car buyers should not scoff at the idea of purchasing a used car. You can often find well-maintained and low-mileage vehicles in the used market at much lower prices than a new car.
Not only are used cars cheaper upfront, but they will also depreciate less as most of a new car’s depreciation happens in the first few years of ownership. When buying a used car, be sure to take it out for a test drive and bring an experienced friend or family member down for the inspection to sus out any potential issues the previous owner might be hiding. Buying used instead of new can potentially save you thousands of dollars, so ignore it at your own risk!
Don’t Be Pressured to Buy On the Spot
Buying a car is a big decision, and big decisions should not be made rashly. Make sure you have a plan before you even think about entering a dealership, and bring someone you trust by your side who can look at things objectively.
Be aware of high-pressure sales tactics that can and will be used on you. This can range from limited-time offers to special freebies or one-time discounts, all designed to get you to make a decision as quickly as possible and sign off on a purchase. Be firm and don’t be afraid to walk away if the salesperson is being too pushy. It’s your money, and its best to weigh your options carefully so you can walk away feeling like its money well spent instead of post-purchase regret.
For a smooth car buying experience, look no further than CarVault. We believe in transparent costs, no hidden surprises and a consultative approach. From choosing your model to financing options, COE bidding and collection, we’ll walk you through the entire process so you know exactly what is happening.