It’s no secret that the price of cars in Singapore is the most expensive in the world. Which is why looking for a used car sometimes makes more sense. If that’s you, and all the makes, models and mileage history are making you blurry eyed, we empathize. Here are some tips on how to get the most car for your dollar.

How much is your budget ?

Ah, the magic number towards owning your dream car. Unlike dreams though, the cost of car ownership is very real. Cars do break down, need regular servicing, and may even get into the occasional fender bender. When figuring out your budget, consider not just the purchase price of the car, but the cost of maintaining it. There are fixed costs—for example, season parking and road taxes—and costs that crop up when you least expect it: when the engine stalls on a Monday morning, or when the air-conditioner blows its last breath of fresh air on a 38-degree day. Do your due diligence on the cost of spare parts, and any known issues with the car model before deciding to buy. Depreciation for certain cars might be low, but that is still thousands of dollars that you effectively write off each year, whether your car is heavily used or not.

  • Certificate of Entitlement (COE): Legal document allowing a car to be driven on Singapore roads. Can be renewed for 5 or 10 year durations.
  • Open Market Value (OMV): Every car has its Open Market Value – the price tagged on the car by Singapore Customs based on purchase price, freight, insurance and all other charges related to the sale and shipment of the car to Singapore. As we’ll detail later, the OMV determines the maximum loan amount you can borrow.
  • PARF (Preferential Additional Registration Fee): If you are looking at a used car, you’d likely be looking at PARF cars (less than 10 years old) instead of COE cars (Certificate of Entitlement, typically referring to a car that has had its COE renewed). These terms are commonly used to provide a quick indication of the car’s age. If you decide to deregister the car before the 10-year expiry date, you’re entitled to a PARF rebate, pegged at a percentage of the remaining OMV. Note that you may have difficulty in securing a loan for a COE car.
  • Additional Registration Fee (ARF): Lastly, there’s ARF, a tiered tax based on the OMV of the car.

These can add up to quite a bit, so be prudent, and don’t overstretch yourself financially.