Cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore

We know, we know. Owning a car in Singapore is synonymous with expensive – boujee even. For most of us, the most common “car” we’ve ever taken is the Mercedes-Benz Citaro, aka our beloved SBS bus. 

While having a car to call our own comes at a steep cost, we can’t deny the convenience it brings us. To help future car-owners, we’ve consolidated 8 cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore – from hacks to getting major discounts off your car loans to shaving off your COE costs. Keep scrolling to find out more. 

1. Get up to 10% off showroom & event cars

Cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore - showroom cars
The higher the mileage, the bigger the discounts.

Getting the display piece, is what we call this money-saving hack in the shopping terminology. Showroom and event cars have been known to sell for less, since it’s no longer deemed as brand-spanking-new. Depending on the car’s mileage, which is usually pretty nominal, buyers can score up to 10% off the original price. 

For example, the BMWs used to transport VIPs at the 2018 Singapore Airshow were sold for up to $42,000 off its original asking price. To access these cars, you can either inquire directly with a car dealer or check the company’s website. Brands such as Mini Cooper will also list them on their secondhand website

2. Consider discontinued models

Cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore - discontinued models
Getting last year’s model is one of the cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore.
Image credit: Tribecar

If you aren’t particular about driving the new “It” car, go for discontinued or slightly older car models instead. We’re not referring to those vintage automobiles made in the 1920s – those are extremely expensive. No, we’re talking about getting the 2020 model instead of this year’s new release.

Companies such as Volvo generally count cars that have been out for more than 3 months to be old stock, and these models will be listed on their clearance list – despite them still being fully functional. One thing to note though, you won’t have a wide range of choices in terms of aesthetics, like the colour of the seats and paint finishing of the exterior. 

3. Use free online comparison sites to reduce loans & insurance costs

Cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore - free loan and insurance site

Aside from paying for the actual car, car owners also have other costs to factor in such as loans and car insurance. With so many choices available, it’s easy to unknowingly go with a pricier plan. Before locking down your choice, use car loan and insurance comparison websites such as Valuechampion and Motorist to determine which options best suit your financial situation. 

Cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore - no claim discount

You can also work toward increasing your No Claim Discount for your car insurance. This system was set up by the Singapore Police Force to encourage safe driving, and you can score up to 50% off your insurance if you haven’t made a claim in the last 5 years. 

Plus, if you are free of any traffic violations for at least 3 years, you’ll qualify for the Certificate of Merit and can get up to another additional 5% discount on your car insurance. Car owners can head to the Singapore Police Force website to check their eligibility. 

4. Swap freebies for cash discounts

Cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore - cash discounts
You can find more affordable car accessories on third party websites.

This one might be difficult for the Singapore auntie or uncle in you, but it’ll be worth it. When closing the sale, dealers will typically throw in an array of free products and perks such as car accessories, servicing credits and vouchers, and extended warranties. 

Instead, negotiate with the salesperson and exchange these items for cash discounts to offset the price of the car. As a gauge, Volvo gives buyers either ~$5,000 worth of workshop repairs and car accessories or a ~$2,000 cash discount. 

5. Purchase directly from seller & save up to 50%

Cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore - purchase from seller

Similar to when you engage a real estate agent, these agents – or dealers – charge commission fees that can come at a steep cost. According to Carro, such dealer fees can go from 15% for non-luxury car brands and up to 50% for luxury ones. 

To save on these costs, skip the middleman and deal directly with the seller. You can find interested sellers on platforms such as Carousell, where you can contact the selling party first hand. It can feel a little iffy without a professional guiding you, but just ensure that every clause and agreement is spelled out in ink and you’ll be good to go. 

6. Earn money back by listing your car on car sharing sites

Rent out your car from 7pm on Friday to 7am on Monday to earn a little extra money.
Image credit: Tribecar

Being a car owner doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drive out every single day. If you foresee yourself not utilising your car for a certain period of time, consider listing it on car sharing sites such as Tribecar. Their latest service, TribeShare, lets you earn $1,000/month or possibly more by renting your car to other drivers. 

Under this service, you’ll make your car available for rent on weekends to fellow Tribecar users who will then be able to select your car for use. This way, instead of letting your car collect dust at the car park, you’ll be able to bring in some extra cash on days when you’re not using it. What an easy way to offset your car expenses in the long run.

7. Shave up to $17,000 off COE with red plate cars

Cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore - off peak cars
Existing car owners who choose to convert to an off-peak car can also enjoy cash rebates of up to $1,100 every 6 months.
Image credit: Singapore Mandarin Council

Also known as the off-peak cars, red plate vehicles suit those who typically use their cars only on the weekends. Getting an off-peak car will entitle you to be on the road on weekends, all public holidays, and the eve of selected public holidays.

Car owners who opt for off-peak cars can get up to $17,000 off their COE and Additional Registration Fee – because you’re contributing less to traffic. You can also get $500 off your road tax each year. So if you don’t see yourself constantly driving on the weekdays, then a red car plate is the way to go. 

Pro tip: If you’re in dire need to drive on weekdays, with a red plate you can still opt to buy an electronic day licence for $20 – which, if you think about it, is probably less than your 2-way taxi fare.

8. Get rare cars at auctions instead of from dealers

Car auctions
Image credit:
SG Vintage & Classic Cars

Getting your dream car doesn’t always have to be impossible. For those who’ve been eyeing rare vintage cars like the BMW 2002 or the Audi Quattro, try getting them at car auctions instead. 

Generally speaking, these auctioned cars are more affordable as most are second hand cars sold by owners who no longer find use for it or no longer want to continue paying the car loan. Online platforms such as SGcarmart have a closed bidding system so there’s no further delays for buyer negotiations. 

Check out these cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore

No need to sell an arm and a leg to call a car yours. With these 8 cheapest ways to own a car in Singapore, you’ll find that owning a car in Singapore is not an impossible dream – plus it can be affordable. 

tribecar tribeshare
All users have to be 23 years or older with a minimum of 2 years of driving experience.

And hey, sharing is caring. You can earn a little extra cash with Tribecar’s TribeShare scheme. The process to enable this service will be explained to you upon signing up with Tribecar. As for handing over the keys, no face-to-face meetups are needed as vehicle owners can remotely lock and unlock the car.

Image for illustrative purposes only. 

Rest assured that tow services, battery replacement, and car wash services are also provided, so you won’t have to separately deal with these things upon the return of your car.

Of course, Tribecar has an all-inclusive car insurance for owners in case of any – touchwood – accidents. Should you require further assistance, the Tribecar Customer Service is available 24/7 too. And that’s it – you can earn $1,000/month just by signing up and offering to share your car.

Find out more about the TribeShare service

This post was brought to you by Tribecar.
Cover image adapted from: Singapore Mandarin Council
Originally published on 22nd March 2023.

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