Let’s move beyond the fact that buying and owning a car in Singapore is exorbitantly expensive compared to most countries in the world. We all know that; yet, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge!
Buying a car is an emotional decision but one can’t ignore the practical costs that come with it. So if you enjoy driving and privacy on the move, we’ve prepared a list of ways to control how much you have to spend. Do it the right way and car ownership won’t pinch you as much as you think it would.
1. Head to Johor Bahru for servicing
You can’t imagine driving out of the country for a car service in most parts of the world, but Singapore’s proximity to Johor Bahru in Malaysia (it’s less than an hour’s drive) and cheaper labour and spare parts cost will ensure you save up a fair bit on car servicing.
Expect labour to cost you 20-30 percent less than in Singapore, and if you are a regular and know your cars well, there’s a lot more to be saved. Don’t get into modifications without knowing all the rules though, since much of the work carried out that side of the causeway is illegal in Singapore.
- Car repair costs are significantly lower here as well.
- Prior booking is recommended before you drive down all the way to Johor Bahru for repairs or servicing.
- Look for recommendations before you choose the workshop. You may get cheated, so it is also advised to buy original parts from Singapore and get it installed in Johor. But be careful not to let the original parts get swapped for fakes!
- Don’t leave your card unattended when you are getting repairs done.
2. Parking fees
Parking spaces are getting scarcer by the day, and parking costs are increasing as well. You will have to pay a season parking fee every month where you stay and also an additional one to park your car at the office. Estimated costs can go up to S$350 a month for parking in the Central Business District so at least for work, you should consider carpooling with your colleagues and split the parking charges.
- On Orchard Road, Claymore Connect and Far East Plaza have some of the cheapest parking lots this part of town, starting from just S$1.07 for the first hour.
- In the East, especially in areas around Siglap, keep a look-out for slip roads, where you can park without any cost, as long as you aren’t blocking the entry to a home!
- Around the East, Ikea (Tampines) offers free parking and Katong Square offers them at cheap rates.
- Mustafa in Little India is another place to check out for free/affordable parking
- Be open for a short walk, even when you drive around. You may find free or affordable parking at 5-10 minutes from where you need to go.
- HDB parking is another sweet spot to park at. Some places like Bendemeer still offer free sunday parking!
3. Maintenance is key
Get into the habit of actively maintaining your car. Keep a keen ear for creaks and rattles, any irregular sounds, check if your lights are working, whether the tread depth in your tyres is okay, follow manufacturer specified service schedules, and keep the car clean – inside and out.
The life of a well-maintained car increases and improves resale value as well. It also keeps your repair bills low, and considering Singapore labour is so expensive, it’s best to keep visits to the workshop to the minimum.
4. Master driving techniques that save fuel
An important aspect of keeping costs down is mastering the driving technique. Basic techniques like keeping the RPMs low and reading traffic flow to minimize braking can save you fuel.
Correct tyre pressures also help in efficiency and lesser use of the clutch and brake improves their longevity. Simple planning before you leave can save fuel and there are many more techniques that if followed, will save you hundreds of dollars every year.
5. Get smart about car insurance
You can’t drive the car out of the showroom on Singapore roads unless you’ve got insurance. Depending on your budget, there are three major types of insurance – comprehensive, third party fire and theft plans, and third party only plans – in decreasing order of cost. While it is obvious, you can ensure lower insurance costs by driving your car safely and not needing to claim, here are some more ideas.
- Try the off-peak license plate, if your requirements can be arranged around it. (Now really, with all those parking costs, do you want to drive to work?)
- Go insurance shopping and discover deals to cut your costs. Some providers have discount offers if you choose to ‘go green’ and receive all information on email, while others may offer age discounts! Look around.
- Keep an eye out for discounts around holidays like CNY, Father’s Day etc. Car insurance providers try to bring in offers around then.
- No claim discounts can even go up to 50 percent of the annual insurance in the fifth year, so keep an eye out for that!
- You will benefit from even lower premiums if you get a Certificate of Merit.
6. Use the best petrol cards (obviously!)
If you drive a lot, a petrol card can save you some money. Petrol benefits on your credit card work in three ways – cashback, cash rebates, and reward points. Make sure you only use your petrol credit card for payments every time. Some cards you can go for are DBS Esso MasterCard, OCBC Plus Visa Credit Card and the Citi Cash Back Card.
7. Track COE prices
Knowing when to bid for a Certificate for Entitlement can save you a lot of money. Study the statistics available on the Land Transport Authority website and bid accordingly.
When there is high demand, bids for COE can go up to more than the price of the car, but if you time it right, you could save thousands of dollars. For instance, open bidding for January 2018 has ended with 20 percent higher premium than that set at the beginning.