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Buying a car in Singapore is more nerve-wracking than the by-elections, the Avengers, and jumping off a cliff added up and multiplied. You're gambling years of work and toil as your brain juggles between gut feeling and sugarcoated words of salesmen- what do you do?
Trust neither. Really. Your gut isn't worth thousands and some crafty salesmen tend to live off tears and regret. Make an informed decision instead, and leave us a tip when you save your hard-earned money!
What are Authorised Dealers and Parallel Importers?
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Authorised dealers are those places with glistening showrooms, sparkly cars and like the name suggest, are authorized to carry those cars they sell. They have more overheads, which equal to more expensive cars, but they are preferred for being more reliable and hassle-free.
Parallel importers on the other hand, are re-sellers. Rather than distribute cars, they buy and sell it and their own prices. They set the rules, and some shady businessmen and fine print gave their industry a reputation for being a little less risk-free.
Pros and Cons
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ADs, with their sparkly showrooms and staff, carry larger overheads that transfer over to car prices. PIs on the other hand have lower costs, and some offer cars of the same make and model over $10,000 lower than what ADs offer!
Some PIs can import cars that ADs don't. If you're a gearhead (or loaded) and want a model of a car that ADs don't carry, or a true Japanese-made car, then you'd probably need to get through a PI.
While ADs do keep spare parts of a vehicle they carry, most PIs aren't required to, and some don't. If your car's make and model is a little more obscure or outdated, there's a fair chance it's going to be much harder for you to get spare parts for your car if you purchase from a PI.
ADs usually offer a 3-year warranty for your car and a servicing deal. Most of it is in black and white, 100% legally bound. PIs on the other hand, offer warranties ranging from verbal "ok 10 years if your car break down we will repair free!" to a signed contract. Some uphold their words, some don't. You do have to remember, if the PI closes years down the road, what are you going to do?
Waiting Time and Availability
PIs and ADs get their stock from different factories. In this case, ADs can get cars from regional factories, which can allow you to get your cars a couple weeks faster.
Whisper "anyone got a bad story of parallel importers?" and you'll be tsunami-ed by swarms of people retelling the story of this and that parallel importer. There are a whole lot of cases regarding bad experience with parallel importers, some even claiming not to get their car at all! Just Google it!
If you're not much of a risk taker and you don't mind paying that much more, then buying from ADs won't keep you from sleeping at night.
What's best for you?
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There's no tried and true way this time round. It's up to you!
If you can't stomach uncertainty and have extra dollars to burn, go with the authorized dealers. It carries little risk and you have it all on black and white- its safe.
However, if you want to save your money or just really want that specific car, weigh your risks and how much you can take. If you are considering a PI, read away!
Get the Best with your Parallel Importer
So you've decided with parallel importers! Here are some things you really, really need to look into!
Some PIs allow for third party warranties for you car, which means if the PI closes, you're still get to keep your warranty! If you can, it's a safer choice and it's a little less risk to the process.
Besides that, you could go for a package that doesn't allow for top-ups for COE. What this means is that you'd be free from any extra costs for COE as the amount you're willing to pay is already locked in.
Find Reputable Dealers
Scout the Internet, Google it up, ask around- be shameless! Find reviews on their Facebook page and search around forums to see what others have to say about them. If they have a sizable review base that speaks well of them. If reviews are mixed, it's a red flag. You really don't want to take the chance.
Find Out What Makes Up the Car Price
Is the price with or without COE? Is it with off-peak COE or some ridiculously low COE? How long is the delivery time? Is it a rejected car? There are many variables to why the price is that way. Make sure you aren't too enticed by the price to read between the lines!
PI with Ready Stock
If the PI has ready stock and you're confident with this one, go for it! It means you don't have to wait for the grueling weeks and months carless!
Black and White
Ensure that everything you were promised is all in the sales agreement. Everything from the warranty to road tax- everything! You don't want to be sweet talked into free stuff only to end up bone dry.