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Do You Really Need a Car in Malaysia Today?

Should you just give up your car?

If the thought has crossed your mind, you’re not alone. Car ownership can be expensive and tiresome, so much so that you might just want to sell it off and bicycle your way around town.

Magnifying glass with plasticine car

Realistically though, it’s not a viable option for most, especially the 9-to-5 crowd who are required to travel on a frequent basis to harder-to-reach locations.

Still, if you’re seriously contemplating ditching your car, hold on and consider the upsides and downsides before making this major decision.

The Good

Cars are often the first big purchase a young adult will make and it is often strived for before homeownership – mostly due to cost and necessity.

Happy driver

Let’s look at why it might be a good idea to own a car:

Convenience

If you live in an area far from restaurants, grocery stores, bus lines and other public transportation, not having your own car represents a major inconvenience.

Imagine the trouble (and costs) of having to take a cab, use an e-hailing service, or depend on others every time you want to buy a meal or shop for groceries. People do it – but it isn’t easy and it will take a lot of planning.

Also, what if you are unwell and need to get to a clinic? What if an emergency arises?

For these reasons, it’s almost a necessity to have your own car and the convenience factor can’t be beat!

If you live in a bustling city area where food stalls, grocers and MRT and LRT lines are within walking distance, then you might be able to get away with not owning a car.

Potentially money-making

While owning a car generally costs you money, it can also be the channel for you to make money.

There are plenty of social businesses that have helped car owners earn a living i.e. e-hailing, crowd advertising and delivery services.

But indirectly as well, your car can be a ticket to a better job and bigger career opportunities. Not being mobile, especially at the beginning of your career, can cause you to limit your job search to areas closer to home, which may not be ideal for your line of work.

Sense of freedom

There’s no doubt that your own car can fill you with a sense of freedom!

You can pick up and leave as and when you please; of course you’ll need to have petrol money first – but, still…

This incentive may have been a lot more powerful before the convenience of e-hailing services, but it is still an important aspect of owning a car.

| See also: Have You Survived the 6 Most Dangerous Roads in Malaysia? |

The Bad

So what’s the not-so-good part about owning a car?

Sad driver

Here are the common concerns.

The heavy expenses

This is probably the biggest barrier to owning a car as the costs can be immense, more so with imported cars.

Here’s a quick rundown of the costs of owning a car:

  • The purchase of the car itself (deposit and monthly instalments)
  • The interest on a car loan
  • Annual car insurance premiums
  • Annual road tax
  • Driver’s license renewals
  • Maintenance, repairs, cleaning and servicing
  • Petrol, parking and toll costs
  • Depreciation (worse for cars with low resale value)

This is certainly a long list and it quite obviously makes the case for those who are reluctant to own a car.

According to our 2017 piece, “What’s The Price of Being A Car Owner in Malaysia”; your car can cost a whopping RM62,450 over the course of five years.

Let’s not forget the possibility of creating debt that we can’t afford to repay.

If you didn’t already know, car loans are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy among the under-30 group in Malaysia.

The hassle

From checking tires every one to two weeks, to filling up petrol, to getting your car serviced, to dealing with repairs, to buying insurance, to reloading toll cards, to getting your car washed; car chores sometimes appear to be a never-ending list of to-dos.

Of course, this is what folks do every day and most do it without complaint. But when it’s added to all the other things on your chore list; the hassle can become a serious burden.

Damaging the environment

You don’t have to be a “tree hugger” to realise the damage that cars in general are doing to the environment.

And there is certainly reason to care about environmental pollution, as over 2 million premature deaths worldwide are linked to it.

Cars aren’t the only source of pollution, but car exhaust fumes contain harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide among others. The effect is much worse from poorly maintained vehicles.

So if you are concerned about the environment and reducing your carbon footprint, you might look to rid yourself of your car and opt for other ways to transport yourself.

There include: carpools, walking/cycling to short distances, and utilising public electric transport like the MRT, which is said to reduce 34,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Should You Hold On or Give Up?

This is not an easy to decision to make, but here are a few helpful pointers for clarity:

Car keys with toy car

Consider letting go of your car, if:

  • You can’t afford the costs of car ownership
  • You live close to amenities and public transport (walking distance)
  • You can share a car with other members of your household
  • You work from home
  • Not having a car will not severely impact your job

You might need to hold on to your car, if:

  • Your work requires heavy travelling, meeting clients or your work location being far from home
  • You are considering using your car to earn money (via social businesses as mentioned)
  • A member of your household requires constant/urgent medical care (for you to drive to hospital as needed)
  • You need your car for daily chores and tasks i.e. sending your kids to school, etc.
  • You live in the suburbs of the outskirts or a newly developed city/township (needing to drive out for amenities)
  • It would cost more to sell. For instance, you have to settle the balance of your car loan and related fees

This usually happens when the outstanding balance of the loan is higher than your car’s resale value. As a matter of fact, this is a common predicament.

So hopefully these lists helped with your decision to either keep your car or sell it.

Happy girl with car keys

Now if you’ve decided to keep your car, here is a handy tip for saving as much as possible: consider signing up for a good petrol credit card!

Yes, a credit card that provides cash rebates, discounts and better loyalty points for petrol swipes can help you save more on your car expenses.

For instance, the Shell-Citi Gold credit card offers up to 8% cashback when you spend at Shell stations with your card. Also, the CIMB Petronas credit card provides up to 7% cashback when you fill up at Petronas.

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