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Busting those myths about buying a used car

Buying a used car can be an exciting but daunting experience. The automotive market is rife with misconceptions and myths that can cloud the judgment of even the most seasoned buyers. Are used cars always unreliable? Is it a gamble without a warranty?

From concerns about safety to the assumption that you might be getting a bad deal, we are here to debunk some of the prevalent myths that surround the world of pre-owned vehicles.

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Myth 1: Used cars are not as safe or reliable

Unless you are getting one that is several decades old, used cars will have standard safety features such as airbags and anti-lock braking systems (ABS).  Some used cars have been well maintained and regularly serviced by their previous owners. These pre-loved vehicles could thus be as reliable as a new one.

What you can do:

Always buy from reputable dealerships. A good car dealer will have the vehicle inspected before offering it for sale.  Ask for the vehicle’s history report and test drive the car.  Check if there had been modifications made to the vehicle and if these are allowed by the Land Transport Authority.

Before committing, you can have the vehicle sent for an independent car evaluation to check for things such as signs of leakage and cracks in the undercarriage.

If you need more assurance, go for certified pre-owned options.  For example, those under BMW Premium Selection are all less than 5 years old and with mileage under 120,000 kilometres. These cars have also been inspected and certified, and come with a warranty, by a certified BMW dealer.

Myth 2: Pre-owned cars don’t have good resale value

It is the first owner of a car who bears the brunt of depreciation. The value of a new car drops about 20 per cent in its first year. It continues to depreciate – albeit at a lower rate – thereafter.  So that previously out-of-reach model that you had been eyeing, could now be affordable with a used one.

What you can do:

Choose a relatively new second-hand car in great condition, or one that is certified pre-owned. Check if it has had many previous owners; this could be indicative of inherent problems and running repair costs, which would ultimately affect its value.

After purchase, the onus is then on you to ensure that the car keeps to a regular servicing schedule. A well-maintained car will help you get a much higher resale value.

Myth 3: Used cars are not fuel-efficient

In general, fuel-efficiency depends on the engine size of a car – whether new or pre-owned. A well-maintained used car should not give you problems with petrol.

Driving behaviour does have an impact though. For example, harsh acceleration and even loading your vehicle with excess weight will add to fuel consumption.

What you can do:

If you are not buying a certified pre-owned vehicle, or if you are kiasu, you can pay for a STA/VICOM inspection. Keep to the recommended maintenance schedule and have the oil change regularly.

You can also pick a smaller used car or choose a pre-owned electric vehicle (EV). Charging with electricity is cheaper than fuelling up with petrol.

Finally, maybe it’s time to change the way you drive. And if you do choose an EV, you will discover a fun new driving experience as well.

Myth 4: Pre-owned cars are not covered by warranty

In general, most manufacturer warranties do not extend to pre-owned cars that are older than three years. While most dealers do not offer warranty programs, there are those which do.

What you can do:

Stating the obvious but yeah, look for dealers which offer warranties for your used car purchase. It may cost a little bit more but you get more peace of mind.

For example, every BMW Premium Selection (certified pre-owned) car is covered by a minimum 12-month warranty and BMW Roadside Assistance.

Multi-brand used car dealer, Sime Darby Auto Selection offers an Approved Warranty* of 12 months or 25,000 kilometres (whichever comes first) on its range of pre-owned cars. (*Terms apply)

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Myth 5: Used car salespersons are not to be trusted

This myth is based on an old stereotype.  There are always some bad apples – across all industries and not just automotive. By and large, the sales consultants are there to make sure customers leave the premises happy or satisfied. Because … online reviews.

What you can do:

Instead of avoiding them, tap their knowledge and experience.

Find a sales consultant who works with you to find a pre-owned car within your budget.  Most trustworthy sales consultants will never pressure you to make a purchase on the spot.

Take your time to ask about financing options and insist on a test drive. Ask all the questions you need to make an informed choice; a good salesperson will be able to answer them clearly and walk you through the purchasing process without any confusion.

We have a wide range of pre-loved vehicles ready for their new owners. Visit us at our Performance Premium Selection or Sime Darby Auto Selection showrooms to see if you can find a match!


[Updated: 18 Sep 2023]

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