Finally! With the land borders now open, you might be itching for a chance to drive into Malaysia in the near future.
Whether it’s to visit friends and family or to explore sights you can’t find in Singapore, it's no secret that travelling to Malaysia was a norm until COVID-19 happened.
Once the borders are fully open and you can are able to cross into Malaysian soil, there are a few things that you should look out for before exploring. Here are 10 tips and tricks for driving up North.
Check Your Fuel Levels
Fuel is essential, especially if you’re driving a car with less than stellar fuel efficiency. And with today's crazy fuel prices, it is understandable for one to be as frugal as possible.
The good old days of passing through the border for cheap fuel are returning. However, just like the pre-COVID days, cars without at least three-quarters of a tank are required to U-turn and refuel, or face a S$500 fine.
Before you even make your way to customs, check how much fuel you have, and gauge how much you’ll have left once you reach there. Modern cars have range estimates readily available, so this should just be a matter of pressing a few buttons on the dashboard.
Once you have cleared Malaysian customs, check your fuel level once every now and then during your trip, especially if you’re planning on a particularly long one.
Make Sure Your Car Is In Optimal Condition
Most road trips will take a toll on your car, like it or not. The stress put on the engine, suspension and tyres can be abnormal compared to usual daily driving, mainly due to prolonged use while cruising, or even due to environmental & elevational changes.
External body panels are also subjected to exposure, with debris such as bugs, rocks and leaves battering the panels of the car as you speed by.
To prevent your car from developing any serious or long-term problems, make sure major issues such as dog-tracking or fluid leakages are fixed before setting off.
Wash your car beforehand to make sure there is little-to-no debris in the engine or on the external surfaces. Make sure that the tyres are pumped correctly and have plenty of tread to spare. This way, you will not have to worry about getting a flat tyre or losing control.
We highly recommend going for a thorough check from a qualified mechanic to ensure that the car is truly ready for a road trip.
Secure Your Belongings
Prevention is better than cure. Many of us may have heard of stories from family or friends about robbery cases happening when travelling up North, with said no-gooders using ingenious ways to steal cars and/or personal belongings inside of them.
Leaving your car unlocked for a short period of time already makes cars and its occupants vulnerable. Brazen criminals are not hesitant to take the car from you in broad daylight. One of the main reasons for that is that Singapore-registered vehicles are not as easily tracked as their Malaysian counterparts.
A precaution to take is to never leave your valuables inside the car, or to even make them visible from outside. Always bring them with you at all times, as thieves are usually more than willing to smash the car windows in order to take them. And when you're inside the car, always store your valuables in a hidden location or somewhere that is not immediately seen by passers-by/other motorists from outside the car.
A steering wheel lock or brake pedal lock is also another good anti-theft measure, ensuring that the thief will not be able to properly drive off with the car. We're not advising you to go full-on Mr Bean by removing your entire steering wheel, but this is enough of a deterrent.
Additionally, park your car in a well-lit area where there's moderate to heavy foot traffic near major roads, in order to discourage thieves from stealing.
Bring Appropriate Documents
As always, entering a foreign country is not as simple as waltzing through the checkpoint. Even going to Malaysia requires some documentation. Here, we’ve prepared a small list of what you will need.
- Certificate of insurance: Getting both vehicle and travel insurance are integral to your travelling process, as any accidents or mishaps can easily be covered with them.
- Proof of road tax validity: Make sure your road tax is renewed before going into Malaysia as it confirms whether you are actually allowed to drive the car on the roads. As of now, you can easily show road tax proof using a printout or digital copy.
- Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP): When entering Malaysia, you'll need a VEP for RFID tracking. This is to ensure that car-cloning syndicates and car theft in Malaysia can be mitigated. It also works as a way to ensure no cars with huge outstanding fines can leave the country.
- Touch N Go Card: This card is used primarily as a way to pay toll prices in Malaysia. Should you not have this card, getting around in Malaysia will be extremely difficult.
Leave Your Luxury Car in Singapore
Ever thought of bringing your Lamborghini or McLaren for a joyride in Malaysia where there are vast selections of B-roads and open expressways to enjoy?
Well, you can take that plan and throw it out of the window. Luxury cars are a hot item for robbers to get their hands on, due to their resale values being significantly higher on the black market than bread-and-butter cars.
They can also take advantage of the fact that even with the VEP, Singapore-registered cars are harder to track by the police, making it easier to get away with theft.
Even in a convoy, thieves are adept when it comes to stealing the cars one by one, sometimes even resorting to deadly weapons. Hence, if you don’t want to lose years' worth of your salary - or worse - the best possible remedy is to just not drive the car.
Settle Your VEP
(Photo Credit: Alan Soon)
While the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) is not yet mandatory for entrance into Malaysia, it is still something that you should consider doing sooner rather than later. The country's Ministry of Transport has even advised Singapore-based motorists to do so, to prevent possible confusion and jams at the checkpoints.
Applying for, and ultimately attaining, a VEP is a challenge in and of itself. Do not worry, however, as we will explain the steps to take.
First, you will need to register for a VEP from the VEP official portal, which will require your vehicle information as well as your insurance information. Once registered, you will have to wait for a confirmation email.
Meanwhile, you will have to download the Touch N Go eWallet which will link with your VEP RFID upon collection. This will conveniently allow you to pay your toll fees automatically.
Once the confirmation email is received, make an appointment on the VEP official portal to tag your vehicle. Only four locations are available to do this service. You will then receive an invite-to-appointment email that shows your RFID VEP tag, which is needed to enter Malaysia.
Once you’ve paid RM10 (SGD 3.30) the tag is valid for life. The whole process will take approximately two hours, so do set aside some time for it.
Settle Your Insurance Coverage
In case something happens to you or the car during your stay in Malaysia, having insurance is definitely handy.
The easiest option is to make sure your motor insurance in Singapore also covers Malaysia. That way, you will not have to get separate insurance premiums for the two countries.
With motor insurance, you'll want either a third-party fire and theft plan or a comprehensive plan. The former is self-explanatory, while the latter covers additional health benefits for the passengers in the car.
Additionally, you would need travel insurance just in case any valuables are reported missing, or if an unfortunate mishap occurs during your trip.
If you’re unsure about what insurance you should get, head over to Motorist’s website where our team will help you along the way.
Invest in a Dashcam
Drivers of questionable standards exist on every corner of the globe. So do not be surprised if you encounter road rage incidents up North, or anywhere for that matter.
In the event of a serious accident, authorities and the insurance company can use the accident footage to track down the culprit and/or claim the damages.
If and when the police do manage to track it down, dashcam footage may aid greatly in the investigation process.
Check for Jams Using the Motorist App
If there’s anything Singapore is famous for, it’s the relatively low frequency of traffic jams. Compared to other cities, a total bumper-to-bumper gridlock in Singapore is usually unheard of.
This all changes when we are on the Causeway. During peak hours, just getting across the bridge might take more than an hour. Even in bigger cities like Kuala Lumpur, traffic can be clogged up beyond relief at times.
To better plan your trip, Motorist has devised a checkpoint feature on our Motorist App, which lets users know about any traffic jam currently happening en route to Johor.
The feature comes packed with insightful information such as the time taken to clear customs via each checkpoint, the increase in traffic density in the last hour, real-time traffic camera footage, as well as potential fuel checks on the right or left lane at each of the checkpoints.
These functionalities will allow you to choose which checkpoint is best suited for your travel plans, in turn saving you precious time and fuel for your trip.
Enjoy The Ride
As the saying goes, "It’s about the journey, not the destination”. And savouring every moment of it is crucial.
Buy some snacks and refreshments at a rest stop. Curate a stellar Spotify playlist. And most importantly, take your eyes off your phone screen and enjoy the sceneries. It's not everyday that you get to see mountains and vast open fields in Singapore.
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