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Used car buying guide Singapore: Where to buy and what to check

So you’re thinking of buying your own set of wheels. One of the first few considerations when buying a car in Singapore is whether you should go for a brand new or used car.

Of course, brand new always seems better – everything is shiny and clean, and then there’s that distinctive leather smell… But brand new is also always more expensive. If you can easily afford a hundred grand or more, go ahead.

However, if you’re on a tighter budget and just need a vehicle to get you from point A to B, there is a compelling case for secondhand cars, which are significantly cheaper and have lower depreciation.


Where to buy a used car in Singapore 

As with most things these days, you can shop for used cars either in person or online. 

Used car dealers

Used car dealers are usually found in a cluster, where there are multiple dealers at one site.

Used car dealers in SingaporeAddress
The Grandstand Car Mall210 Turf Club Rd, Singapore 287995
Automobile Megamart61 Ubi Ave 2, Singapore 408898
Mackenzie Used Car Centre73 Mackenzie Road Singapore 228729
West Coast Car Mart31 West Coast Highway Singapore 117864
WCEGA Plaza1 Bukit Batok Crescent Singapore 658064
Carros Centre60 Jalan Lam Huat
Leng Kee Autopoint24 Leng Kee Road Singapore 159096


The traditional way to buy a used car is to swing by the various secondhand car dealers and browse the cars they have. These brick-and-mortar stores have large showrooms where you can see, feel and smell your choices, and even do an immediate test drive. The experience will feel quite similar to buying a brand new car, albeit at a shabbier showroom.

However, when compared to online marketplaces – which allow you to buy directly from the previous owner – buying from a used car dealer is usually slightly more expensive. Used car dealers typically offer really low prices to buy used cars, then recondition and repair them before putting them up for sale. This way, they can fetch better prices. 

Online car marts


As such, it’s unsurprising that most people do their first round of research online nowadays. There are many online car marts and marketplaces where you can browse used cars for sale, filtering your choices by the make, model, year of registration and more. Heck, you can even browse used cars on Carousell and ask “Price nego?”

Since there’s no middleman here (the portal is usually just for listing the ad), prices are usually more competitive. With a bunch of used car listings compiled in one place, it’s also easier to compare prices and find better deals. The troublesome part is then arranging for separate viewings of each potential buy and settling the paperwork. 

What to check when buying a used car 

When shopping for preloved goods, it’s always important to do a thorough physical inspection of your goods before committing to a deal. Used cars are no exception, especially given how expensive maintenance and repairs can be. 

Used car inspection checklist

Adapted from sgCarMart, here’s a list of key areas to check. 

  1. In a well-lit area, check the interiors and exteriors for damages
  2. Check the engine oil level, looking out for contaminated (black) oil 
  3. Check the condition of the engine 
  4. Check the coolant level and colour (green is good, pink/red is not good) 
  5. Check the transmission fluid level and colour (pink/red is good, brown/orange is bad)
  6. Check for leaks (usually under the car) 
  7. Check the engine bay, looking out for fresh oil 

What to ask when buying a used car 

Aside from its physical condition, there are several more administrative things to check. You should ask the seller/dealer: 

  • Is this a “normal” or off-peak car (OPC, red plate)?
  • Is this a PARF or COE car? 
  • Are there any warranties?
  • Is the car certified for quality and condition (Certified Used Cars)?
  • When must you renew the road tax? 

How much can you save if you buy a used car? 

If you’re considering a used car, you’re probably most motivated by cost savings. So let’s talk about how much you actually save by buying a used car.

First of all, if you look at it in absolute terms, you easily save tens of thousands. We did a quick search on sgCarMart, and found these:

Car make/model

Brand new price2019 (1yo)2018 (2yo)2017 (3yo)2016 (4 yo)
Nissan Note 1.2A$74,800$59,99919.79%$52,80029.41%$47,80036.10%$42,80042.78%
Toyota Altis 1.6A$95,888$83,80012.61%$75,80020.95%$63,80033.46%$54,77742.87%
Honda Civic 1.6A$95,999$85,40011.04%$74,30022.60%$69,80027.29%$58,80038.75%
Mazda 3 Classic 1.5A$88,888$78,80011.35%$62,77729.38%$52,90040.49%$48,33345.62%


Generally, with every year of age, the car loses about 10%+ in value.

For example, a 2-year-old car would be about 20%+ cheaper. Likewise, a 5-year-old car would be about 50% cheaper. This makes sense since the “brand new price” is actually the cost for you to drive the car for 10 years.

However, in real life, nobody really compares the prices of cars this way. (If you do, it’s time to read up!) There are many other things to consider, and the most common way to decide is using depreciation. 

How to calculate car depreciation

Depreciation is basically how much “value” your car loses each year. All cars are depreciating assets, but the first owner bears most of this “cost”. There is the Preferential Additional Registration Fee (PARF) rebate to account for, and cars typically depreciate by up to 30% in the first year.

To calculate a car’s depreciation, use the total cost of the car, PARF rebate, and divide it by the number of years left. 

|  Also Read: Everything You Need to Know about Owning a Car  |

Used car insurance in Singapore 

Finally, when buying a used car, you’ll also need to budget for insurance. There are three types of used car insurance plans:

  • Comprehensive

  • Third party, fire and theft

  • Third party only 

Comprehensive offers the broadest coverage, and is what most car loans require from drivers. Third party cover is the most basic plan, and is the minimum coverage required in Singapore.

Generally, used cars cost more to insure because of wear and tear. For more information and a quotation, head to our car insurance page.

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