For anyone who is thinking about buying a new car, the latest COE results (1st bidding, August 2023) would have been a bummer. Across the board, COE prices went up with Cat A COE price at $99,499, Cat B at $126,889 and Cat C at $126,201.
Clearly, there are many Singapore car buyers who are able and willing to cough up the cash for a brand new car.
For the rest of us who are not as affluent but still need to own a car for personal reasons, the used car market is likely as good as it gets. This is where we might be able to find a car that is cheaper and comes with a lower depreciation.
More likely than not, the best deal (from a cost perspective) that we can get would be the buy a COE car. A COE car would refer to a car that has renewed its COE. This means that it’s at least 10 years or older.
Unfortunately, the used car market has its fraught. For a start, COE cars are 10 years and older and are likely out of their warranty. Being older, they may also experience more issues and this means potentially higher maintenance and repair costs.
To avoid a lemon (a lemon is a car that has hidden issues that were not disclosed at the time of sale, and these issues can be expensive and difficult to repair), buyers may want to get a professional inspection and check the vehicle’s history report and to buy from reputable dealerships or individuals that they trust.
However, if you get a suitable COE car that does not have major issues, you can enjoy substantial cost savings. This would allow you to enjoy car ownership without paying the current high price for a brand new car in Singapore.
In this article, we explore how much a COE car in Singapore currently cost. To help us with this, we explore some listings on Sgcarmart.
All of these COE cars that we have selected have a depreciation of $10,000 or less, and already have their COE extended for another 10 years. We only choose cars that have 1 previous owner. The downpayment is assumed to be at 30% and the car loan is assumed to be 60 months with an interest rate of 3.18%.
Nissan Sylphy 1.5A Premium – $84,800 (COE till 03/2032)
Current Mileage: 110,000km
All images from Sgcarmart. Link to listing
With a brand-new Nissan today such as the Nissan Qashqai costing $181,800, a used Nissan Sylphy that provides similar utility at less than half the price could be the alternative.
This listing caught our attention for three reasons. Firstly, mileage which is currently at 110,000km (9.7k/year) is relatively low. The listing also states that it has been fully serviced by Nissan Tan Chong Motor and comes with all servicing record. Finally, COE has been renewed till 03/2032.
To own this car, you will need to pay a minimum downpayment of $25,440 (30% of the asking price of $84,800). Assuming an interest rate of 3.18%, taken over a 60-month loan, the monthly repayment will be $1,147.
Chevrolet Cruze 1.6A – $60,800 (COE till 11/2029)
Current Mileage: 66,000km
With one owner and a stated mileage of 66,000, this 2009 Chevrolet Cruze could be a suitable option for a continental sedan. However, do note that Chevrolet is a less common brand in Singapore so potential buyers would want to make sure that they have a trusted workshop that they can go to.
Financing-wise, the downpayment would be $18,240, and assuming a loan period of 60 months, monthly repayment would be $822. This could fit within the budget of those who are not willing to spend more than $1,000 a month on loan repayment. There are still six more years left on the COE.
Kia Cerato 1.6A – $49,000 (COE till 02/2028)
Current Mileage: 114,000km
With a reasonable mileage of 114,000km (7.6k/yeah) with just one owner and a remaining COE of 5 years, this 2008 Kia Cerato would require a down payment of just $14,700. If you were to stretch the car loan to account for the remaining 59 months of its COE, the monthly repayment will be $672. This would likely be cheaper than renting a car, with the added bonus that you don’t need to worry about scratches or damage.
While COE Cars Are More Affordable, They Are Not Exactly Cheap Either
One thing worth noting is that though COE cars are cheaper than brand-new cars, or even pre-owned cars that are still on their original COE, they are not exactly cheap either.
When you include season parking ($110 at HDB carparks), fuel cost (about $250 a month), insurance (about $1,000 a year, $80 a month), road tax (about $1,000 a year, $80 a month), this would add up to about $520 a month. Add your monthly instalment to it and you can expect to spend at least $1,000 to $1,500 or more each month on your vehicle. This is on top of the down payment that you also have to pay.
At $1,000 a month, some may argue that one can already take about 30 taxi/private-hire rides a month (assuming an average fee of $33/ride). While that is certainly true, it’s also likely that car buyers looking for such COE cars today may still prefer the convenience of having a car if they need to run errands such as to ferry their kids or elderly parents daily, or as a mode of transportation for work.
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