Top 9 Tips For Buying A Used Car [As Of 2023 ]

We’re all familiar with the fact that Singapore is notoriously known for being one of the most expensive states to own a car.


High COE prices, road tax, prevailing quota premiums (PQPs) and many more factors are enough to discourage someone from buying a car.


Still, owning a vehicle does have its merits. Cars are a convenient mode of transport to go from one place to another. And, anyone should have a chance to drive on Singapore’s spacious roads at least once in their lifetime.


So, buying a used car in Singapore sounds much more financially sound, right? From the get-go, used vehicles are much cheaper than their new counterparts. They cost much less to ensure and maintain, giving more bang for your buck than a new car.


But, not all second hand cars are built the same. You must be keen in choosing a used car that matches your lifestyle and transport needs.


And, we’ve got just the information to help you. Here’s a comprehensive guide on buying a used car in Singapore. Dive in and get your wheels turning!

Pretty self-explanatory. Before you go about buying a used car, you must already know the vehicle’s make and model.


Will you be using the car going to and from work? Are you planning to start a family? Or, do you want something more stylish? (there are a few good used luxury cars out there).


After weighing out the pros and cons of your top car choices, you’re ready to window shop.

cars lining up in a row

This — and we cannot stress it enough — is the single most crucial part of the used car buying process. Car buyers often make the mistake of buying a used car from relatives or friends, only for the vehicle not to function as advertised.


If you want to avoid hefty repair costs involved in buying poorly-maintained used cars, find a reputable dealership with an excellent track record of selling used vehicles in near-pristine conditions.


You have two options. One of them is buying a pre owned car from an official dealership or showroom.


Buying used cars from dealerships is a safe bet because they’re known for their reliability and honesty. You’ll have better peace of mind knowing the vehicle’s condition will be as close as to how it’s advertised.


In addition, buying a used car from a dealership offers you warranty coverage. Considering the vehicle’s age and the cost of engine parts, warranty coverage cushions you from higher maintenance costs in the long run.


Another option is buying from a standalone or individual seller. However, note that you’ll have to do most of the legwork to ensure the vehicle’s quality.


Despite this, buying from individual sellers is a popular arrangement for aspiring vehicle owners. You’ll find much cheaper cars this way.


Ask as many questions as possible regarding the used car’s mileage, quality, parts, performance, warranty, service records, etc. Never buy a vehicle without having it inspected beforehand.


Similarly, buying a used car is best only when you’re entirely comfortable with how it runs on the roads.


Keep a close eye on the gearbox, suspension, brakes, steering, or body paint job. See if they’re up to par with standards for a second hand car of the same make and model.

Not-so-fun fact: Singapore car prices are more than six times than average car prices in the world. There’s no sugarcoating that Singapore cars are expensive.


Figure out how much it costs to buy a second hand car. In Singapore, apart from the vehicle’s OMV or Original Market Value, you’ll also have to consider the following:


  • COE prices (Certificate of Entitlement)
  • ARF (Additional Registration Fee)
  • Excise Duty (for imported vehicles)
  • Road tax
  • Car insurance
  • Petrol prices
  • Parking fees
  • Servicing and maintenance


We recommend providing rough estimates of how much you’ll spend in a year on your car. Place all the details in a spreadsheet. This is not only an effective way of setting a budget, but it also helps you compare the prices of different used cars with one another.

If you think you’ve found the one used car you’ll be driving for several years, talk with the seller or dealership. Schedule a viewing session, especially if you’re gunning for multiple used car choices.


Buying a used car is just as much of a significant investment as buying a new one. Don’t be afraid to take your time to view each of your choices and assess whether they’re the right fit.

inspecting the interior of a car

Car inspections are a vital step in the purchasing process. Once you’ve finally set your eyes on the prize, it’s time to inspect the different parts of the used vehicle:



Mileage is a significant factor in pre-owned cars’ price. Generally, the lower the mileage, the more value you’ll get. This means its wear and tear is much less compared to a used car driven frequently on the roads.



Simply put, your overall experience of the used car depends on its engine. Inspect the engine oil and its level.


The oil hasn’t recently been changed if it’s a bit dark or discoloured. Additionally, the oil level must be at the indicated mark. If you need more information, request the previous owner’s maintenance records.



Windshield repairs in Singapore could fetch from $40 to $60. Meanwhile, a complete replacement or overhaul ranges from $150 to $280.


This is another part to look out for when buying a used car. Ensure there aren’t any hairline cracks or scratch marks. The wiper must also be functioning correctly. Make sure it doesn’t produce screeching sounds and streak marks as it moves across the glass.



Paint jobs are also quite expensive, even for used cars. Watch out for tell-tale signs of a bad paint job, such as runs, peeling, wrinkles, fish eyes, bubbles etc.



Don’t be surprised if the used car isn’t in perfect condition. Minor scratches are acceptable since it is a used car, after all. Examine the exterior from an angle. Check for small dips and ripples as the light bounces on it.


All these could be indications that the car was involved in an accident and repairs were made. Additionally, inspect the body panels. Uneven gaps are a clear sign the used car was once again involved in an accident.


Wheels And Tyres

Inspect the tyres and wheels for deep scratches or damages. See if there are irregular wear patterns in the wheels’ inner and outer sections.


This may mean a wheel misalignment, faulty suspension, or inadequate tyre pressure. The tyre threads’ depth must not fall below 2mm, as it will most likely need a replacement.



Check the used vehicle’s accessories and electronics. Ensure the audio system is functioning properly. All buttons must work as intended, and there aren’t any loose parts.


Air Conditioning

It’s normal for used vehicles not to have proper cooling at first glance. This may be a case of not enough coolant. But if the problem persists, the A/C unit may be in it for a major repair.


IU (In-Vehicle Unit)

Every Singapore-registered vehicle is built with an IU, which allows cars to access roads with taxes or use the Electronic Parking System in some cases. The inserted card must be easily readable and detectable by the device.

hands on the car steering wheel

Many used car dealers will often request the buyer to sign a test indemnity form, absolving them of any liabilities which may happen during a test drive. Take note of this before starting your run.


Insert the key into the ignition. The engine must start smoothly without any hitches or extended cranking.


If it doesn’t start until more than three seconds have passed, you’ll have to find another option. A car that takes time to start may suffer from an almost discharged battery or more serious engine issues.


Test driving the vehicle also helps you figure out whether the brake pedal is functioning properly. A good indicator of responsiveness is how far it “sinks” on the floor. If it sinks too far, it’s a likely issue with the master cylinder.


Accelerating, braking, and turning must all be smooth. Watch out for any unusual clicking noises or screeching sounds, as these could indicate problems with the belt drive system, joints, bearings, alternator, etc.

If you can buy the used car with money upfront, that’s half the battle won. All you need now is a purchasing agreement or receipt from the dealership or seller.


But if you don’t have cash up front, you have different financing options to pay for the vehicle’s purchase price.


Choose a used car loan deal that works for you. Anticipate whether you can fulfil the monthly payments, interest rates, and loan tenure. The car dealership will also be able to help you out with picking a loan.


Car loans can be tricky to navigate. But you’ll quickly get the hang of them as long as a trusted professional is helping you out.


Remember that your maximum loan amount will depend on the used car’s OMV. If the OMV is less than $20,000, you’ll get 70% of the purchase price. OMVs greater than $20,000 will merit 60%.

Insurance premiums for second hand cars are much lower. This is due to the availability of parts and easier replacement.


And getting insurance is one of several ways you can legally drive a car on Singapore roads. Several sites compare used car loan packages for your benefit. Take advantage of them and choose wisely.

car dealership

Dealerships will walk you through every step in transferring vehicle ownership in Singapore.


Buying from individual sellers is also convenient, as a step-by-step guide is already available on the OneMotoring website.


You’ll need to provide the following details:


  • Identification number
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • SingPass
  • Vehicle Registration Number


You will receive an SMS confirmation to finalise the transfer. Pay the service fees and provide valid motor insurance, which can cover the road tax.


Before finalising the sale, ask if the previous owner has already settled any outstanding fines on the vehicle. This is the only way to successfully transfer its ownership to you.


Once everything is finalised, all there’s left to do is bring home your car and enjoy the perks of being a new, used car owner.

Buying a car for the first time, be it a used or new car, will always have its own set of challenges.


There’s the matter of ensuring all the paperwork is properly accomplished. In addition, you’ll also have to ensure the car is at par with your expectations.


Hopefully with this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the used car buying process in Singapore. If you need more information, you may contact us at Kee Yong Auto.


Our Sing Ming car workshop offers various car servicing packages for Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Bentley, Porsche, Land Rover, BMW, and other models.

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Used Car In Singapore?

Yes. Used cars are more cost-effective than brand new cars. You’ll generally spend much less on repairs and maintenance, especially if a warranty covers the parts.

Should I Buy A 10-Year-Old Car In Singapore?

Not really. The best age for buying used cars falls at 2-3 years. Anything a little above that may be acceptable. But it’s best to choose another used vehicle if the current one breaches the 10-year mark, as this effectively deregisters the vehicle.

Should I Buy A Car With Low Mileage?

Buying a used car with low mileage is generally the best practice. More mileage tends to translate to frequent repairs and maintenance.

Why Is Age Important In Used Cars?

The age of your used car is also significant, as it determines its reliability. Generally, the older it is, the more difficult it is to find replacement OEM auto parts.