Sunday, December 27, 2015

Doing business with car dealers - Protect yourself


Not only are cars blood sucking liabilities to get in Singapore, the process of getting one is also fraught with many dangers. 

Examples of car dealers who infamously made the news for various reasons:
Volks Auto, KS Automobile, Galaxy carz, Cars Today, Mich Automobile,.Go google them!

Common danger
The original car owner sells a car to the car dealer for $32,000 . The car has an outstanding loan of $30,000.The car dealer gives you $2000 first and takes the car, promising you to handle the paperwork of settling the remaining loan of $30,000.
The car dealer then finds a car buyer. Car buyer pays a deposit(or worse the full amount!) and takes over the physical car, believing mistakenly that having the physical car as 'collateral' gives one a peace of mind.
Car dealer then runs away.
Original car owner : Still owes the bank the loan of $30,000, is liable for any fines that is incurred and loses the use of the car.
Car buyer : Loses deposit, car will be towed away as it is owned by the bank due to outstanding loan.

Possible ways to reduce risk
For original car owner : Settle your loans by yourself before selling the car to the car dealer. Besides, some car dealers like to charge an admin fee for doing such work. I was asked for $500 before for the admin fee which i found ridiculous for such a trivial job and of course i dropped this dealer. Do not let him take the car after receiving the deposit. After settling the loan by yourself ( you can't transfer ownership until the loan is settled), make sure that there is a transfer of ownership to the car dealer at LTA or if the dealer is an electronic service agent, apply for a transaction pin using your Singpass and then do it at the dealer's premises. On the spot at LTA or at the dealer's  premises, receive the full amount then transfer the ownership.   Only after this, then pass the car to the car dealer.

For car buyer: Paying a deposit seems like a common industry practice which i kind of disagree with. Negotiate for a lower deposit to reduce risk or  a complete safer way is to request the car dealer to go down to LTA to do a transfer of ownership of the car and only then pay him in full the amount once transfer of ownership is done. If the car still has outstanding loan or is not owned by the car dealer, the car cannot be transferred. If he is a scam, he will surely not agree to this. If he is an electronic service agent (ESA), you can ask him to get a transaction pin  and transfer the vehicle ownership to you at his premises.Again if the car still has outstanding loan or is not owned by the car dealer, the car cannot be transferred.

There are actually a lot of permutations of how to get cheated in the car industry but the moral of the story is : The ownership status recorded with LTA and when you hand over or receive the money is very important and always get an invoice. This principle also applies when dealing with direct car owners or buyers.

Other car articles
Buying a brand new car- What i learnt
Buying a brand new car- The minimum considerations

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