10 Facts About Car Ownership in S’pore All Aspiring Car Owners Should Know

Image: bankerwin / Shutterstock.com

Many people around the world know that a car in Singapore is expensive AF: for the price of one car here in Singapore, you can buy two, or even three, of the same model over in Malaysia.

Just check out how Hollywood stars react when they heard about the prices of cars here:

This is why Singapore guys sometimes always joke that they marry twice: once with their wife, and the second time with their car.

But how much do you know about car ownership in Singapore?

Here’s a video we’ve done on this topic, lest you prefer to watch than to read:

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Still here and prefer to read instead? Okay, here’re ten facts about car ownership in Singapore: simplified for you.

Cost of a Car

Here’s why owning a car is so chim: It’s like not buying a dress from a shop in a mall, whereby you just pay for it and bring it home.

You see, there are many fees involved in a car that makes it expensive, and it’s not just the COE.

Let’s use this car, a Toyota Camry, as an example.

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Image: bankerwin / Shutterstock.com

First, we have the OMV, which is what is known as the Open Market Value. This is how much it cost for a dealer to bring the car over to Singapore; just think of it as the cost price of the car.

For this car, based on a list in onemotoring.com.sg, it’s about $30,665. Then there’s the GST, which is at $8,709.

There’s a normal registration fee of $140, and an additional tax known as ARF, which is the ADDITIONAL Registration Fee.

Think of it as an additional fee lah, and it’s a certain % of the OMV.

For this car, it’s $34,931.

Yah, that fee is more expensive than the cost price of the car. No kidding.

Next we have the VES, but this one is quite new so let’s not confuse you with this, but anyways, for this car, it’s an extra $10,000

And finally, there’s the COE that we’re all familiar with.

Based on a COE of $45,289, the total price of this car is at $129,734 with all fees in.

And according the same list, the selling price quoted is $152,988, coz dealers need to make money mah.

So, a car that cost $30K to import in has ballooned to over $150K…because of many papers.

In other words, out of the 100% that you pay for, almost 80% of it are merely fees.

Yeah, papers.

Cost of maintaining a car

When you go to any website, you’ll see that dealers like to just sell you with this: the monthly instalments.

But any car owner will tell you that that’s just a fraction of the amount you have to fork out monthly.

Firstly, you need insurance, which can be up to $3,000 a year if you’re young, so let’s just put it at about $250 per month.

Then there’s the petrol, which is about $200 to $400 per month.

There’s also season parking, which can be $110 a month if you live in new HDBs. You can’t possibly park your car in your living room, right?

Your office might charge another $100 a month, and outside hourly parking can come up to $100 a month, too.

You also need to maintain and service your vehicle, which can be up to a few hundred dollars every six months, so that’s roughly about $100 a month (if you’re lucky and won’t need to change so many parts).

And we haven’t even factored in ERPs, summons, car washes…etc, but let’s just say that you’re so careful, you manage to siam all ERPs and summons.

But still, take a look at the monthly breakdown here:

  • Insurance = $250
  • Petrol = $300
  • Home parking = $110
  • Outside parking = $200
  • Maintenance = $100

In total, that’s about $960 a month, or you can round it up to $1,000 a month.

Still think that owning a car is just about the monthly instalment?

Insurance Matters

Every car in Singapore needs to be insured: It’s the law and not something optional, unlike your personal insurance.

There’re various insurances available, but most would get the comprehensive one, which covers you even if you’re at fault.

So what happens when you get a comprehensive insurance policy?

Let’s say an accident happens, and it’s not your fault: You won’t need to pay anything.

But if it’s your fault, then you need to pay an amount known as “excess”, which is determined in your insurance policy: It can be $500 to even $3,000. Once you’ve paid that excess, the repair cost, no matter how much, will be bore by your insurance company altogether.

This is why you’re always encouraged to have a camera in your car – it can protect you if someone did something wrong and no one sees it!

Insurance Cost

Now, since we’re still at insurance, we should talk about the prices.

For some people, the insurance premiums can be crazy, primarily because of these factors:

  • They’re young
  • They just got their license
  • Their car is a powerful and sports car
  • They have at-fault accidents before

Rumours have it that the colour of the car plays a part, but that is not certain: all you need to know is that the profile of the driver is the key factor in determining the premiums.

There have been cases whereby the premiums can balloon to $5,000 to $6,000 for a Japanese car; if you’re a P-plate, all the best because it’ll be hard to get a company that insures you, and even if one accepts you, the price could be over the top.

Therefore, it’s always advisable to get your licence early.

But on the other hand, if you’re old, experienced, safe and drive a normal car, your insurance can be just in the hundreds.

Other than your profile, there’s also an additional 10% discount to your premium if you didn’t have a claim for a year, up to a total of 50% (but you have to be holding on to a policy during every year).

In other words, it’s very hard to determine the cost of insurance: All you need to know is that the older and safer you are, the cheaper it will be

COE Matters

Now, let’s look at something that has confused many, should we?

Let’s use an example instead: this shirt.

Image: Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

After you’ve bought this shirt, you can’t wear it and walk on the streets unless you get the licence that lets you wear it for, say, ten times.

To buy that license, you have to bid for it online.

Yeah, literally bidding.

But only 20 people can win the bid, so if you’re 1 of the 20 people who bid the highest, you get the license.

COE works the same way: The number of COEs available for bidding will be based on how many cars are de-registered.

So if you, or usually your dealer, managed to bid for it, then you’ll be entitled to drive your car for ten years.

If not, you can’t technically let the car on the road. At all.

Just so you know, in the latest bidding, a small car COE is at $42K

That means each year, you spend $4.2k just for the rights to be on the road, even when you own the car.

What Happened after 10 Years?

This is one of the most difficult thingy to understand: What happens after your COE expires (i.e. after 10 years)?

The simple answer is this: you can either scrap your car and get back some money or you can extend your COE.

If you scrap your car, you’ll get back what is known as a PARF value: it’s a % of the ARF you’ve paid.

Remember ARF? It’s that additional fee that is more than the cost price of the car. Depending on when you scrap your car, the amount you get back will be different

If it’s after 10 years, you’ll get back 50% of the ARF.

So, let’s say your ARF is $34,931: You’ll get $17,465.50.

And you’ll also get some cash in return for the car body, but that’s very low at like a few hundred dollars only, depending on your model.

Now, if you scrap your car earlier before the 10-year mark, you’ll get more of the ARF and also a COE rebate (more on that later).

For example, if you scrap your car at the eighth year, you get 55% of the ARF instead of 50%

Anyway, if you scrap before you use up your 10-year COE, you’ll also get back a certain amount based on how many years it’s left with.

For example, if your COE is $10 and you scrap your car at the ninth year, you get back $1.

But of course, if a COE is $10, then you should also try to wake up from your sleep, because nowadays, this can only happen in your dreams

What if You Extend your COE?

So, what if you extend your COE? Say, 5 or 10 more years?

If you extend if for 5 more years, you can’t extend it anymore, but if you extend for 10 years, you can continue to extend it after the first extension.

But here’s the thing: once you extend your COE, you won’t get back any ARF (the PARF).

Not even a single cent.

Now you know why people rather scrap their car and get a new car, eh?.

Seatbelt rules all owners should know

Do you fasten your seatbelt when you’re sitting at the back of the car? No? Then you’re not just risking your life in an event of an accident, but also risking the driver’s record.

You see, when a car is caught with passengers not wearing their seatbelt, the driver would be the one who will receive demerit points, because he or she is responsible for the passengers’ behaviour

So next time, when you’re in an Uber or Grab, hep the driver lah: fasten the seatbelt.

For your safety and the driver’s rice bowl.

Vehicle Loan

In the past, you’ll often see this kind of advertisement: “$0 driveaway! 10 years full loan!”

Now, you won’t see a deal like this.

In an effort to prevent people from falling into an endless debt, you can now only borrow up to 70% of the purchase price, and the maximum loan period is 7 years instead of 10 years.

Let’s say a car is $100: You can loan a maximum of $70 up to 7 years, but have to make a down payment of $30.

And given that one vehicle is usually at more than $100K, prepare to fork out at least $30k cash to get a new car

Now, how about second-hand car?

The same rules apply.

In other words, unless you have tens of thousands of dollars on hand, you can forget about getting a car.

Prices of Car

Nowadays, a new Toyota car could theoretically be more expensive than a nine-year-old BMW; reason being, the COE back then is much cheaper

In other words, it’s true that prices of cars in Singapore is very, very dependent on when you buy it.

Now, when COE prices are high, new and second hand cars would be more expensive.

If the COE prices are low next month, both new and second hand cars prices would drop drastically.

In other words, timing is very important.

One of my colleagues know a person who actually managed to make some money when he bought a car with low COE, and sell it when COE is high!


For many of us, getting a car provides us with convenience, but let’s face it: with private hire cars everywhere nowadays, it’s actually much more convenient

So having one now is more of a status symbol instead of convenience, unless you’ve got kids or old passengers.

And now that you know more about car ownership, do you feel like…giving up your car dream now?

Or are you more determined to get that dream car of yours?

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