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How much do cheaper mass market cars really cost?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

People always say how expensive it is to buy a car in Singapore. Fewer people talk about how expensive it is to maintain a car in Singapore.

With Category A COEs being protected from luxury makes very soon, some of us who are looking to buy smaller mass market cars are probably feeling a bit happier.

Cars with engine power output exceeding 97kW will be classified under Category B in COE bidding exercises starting February 2014.

The new categorisation criteria comes as LTA seeks to better delineate mass market cars from premium cars.

Imagine rich folks buying cars like BMW 116, Mercedes Benz C180 and even the Lotus Elise competing for Category A COEs with people buying a Mazda 2 like me! It just isn't fair! Well, it will soon become a thing of the past. Read article: here.

However, if you are thinking of buying a car, whether it is a need or a want, be prepared to spend a fair bit of money to keep your car running in good condition.

I just sent my car for servicing recently and this was how much it cost me:

To be fair, it was a major service as the half yearly maintenance bill usually hovers around the $300 mark.

For a 1.5 or 1.6 litre Japanese make, a $15k to $20k a year burn rate is about right, including depreciation (although some might argue that this is a non-cash item). Is it money well spent?

Read these?
1. Buy a Mercedes Benz.
2. Lease a car, don't buy.


Anonymous said...


I am rather happy about the new criteria in CAT A, but I wonder how significant the drop will be come Feb.

Those bidding for those continental cars in CAT A, might not necessary be filthy rich (WOuld have gone for CAT B), but I believe most will have this mentality (Strangly, I don't, but most people I speak to, do), "I am already paying 70K for a piece of paper, of course I want to get a better car like BMW, or the likes, I will spend more than 100K for a car, buying a continental car will have more value"

I wonder what value they are talking about? If it is driving experience, I have no comments, if it is monetary value, I think if I have nothing better to do, I can use a calculator and ask them to stop dreaming.

SO will these middle sandwiched class, now move to CAT B? It depends, if COE at CAT B stays the same (Technically impossible, since the migration of demand from CAT A to CAT B will lead to higher prices at CAT B), they will bid their cars at CAT B and enjoy "value for money". IF CAT B and CAT A price widen, they might come back to earth and bid CAT A price.

SO, if I may be a fortune teller for once, the worst case scenario will happen:

CAT A fall insignificantly, maybe 5K to 10K, while CAT B COE price goes to the 80K to 90K range, so I dun really benefits from lower priced no frill cars, but many others will lose money without even benefitting "no frills" man like me

SIgh... 5 more years... I will use my leg power instead of horse power

INVS 2.0 said...

But I doubt Cat A would fall drastically as some premium models (eg. Audi A1, VW Golf) are still lurking below 130bhp.

They should categorise it by car brand on top of >1.6L instead.

I am hoping for a cheap supermini like Kia Picanto and even Chery QQ (the new QQ is nice) to make a re-introduction to the car market soon.

Public transport is still in ruins, unfortunately.

AK71 said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are a deep thinker. :)

Actually, I thought of another possibility. Maybe, the rich won't buy BMW 116 or Mercedes Benz C180 for their kids anymore. Maybe, they will buy Mazda 2s for them instead with the changes. ;p

Oh, no!

AK71 said...

Hi INVS 2.0,

The Audi A1 and VW Golf are moving to Cat B. I just inserted the table for your easy reference. Good news? :D

hjteo said...

Good post AK. I guess the bill comes from going back to the AD. After the warranty period, reducing the servicing cost can be brought lower by considering going to outside workshop to do servicing. The key is to find a good and reliable workshop.

AK71 said...

Hi hjteo,

I always bring my car back to the distributors for servicing because I know they will definitely know what they are doing. I am kiasu. :(

Gary said...

Hi AK,

Good article! Looks like we have to see market's reaction. But I'm guessing tt e car dealers would definitely know what's going to happen already!!!

INVS 2.0 said...

Misleading table by LTA. Check this:

and this

LTA merely quoted the "turbo version" of the models and smacked them inside the table, without mentioning it is turbo or NA (Naturally-Aspired/non-turbo).>:(

AK71 said...

Hi Gary,

I think car dealerships are now having a hard time. Perhaps, the mass market car dealers might get a respite with this new measure. :)

AK71 said...

Hi INVS 2.0,

Aiyoh! Shame on the LTA! How can like that? You should write in to The Straits Times and expose LTA! Grrrr...

AK71 said...

Some car showrooms were packed with potential buyers on Saturday, following the changes to the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system announced earlier this week.

Some carmakers even cut prices ahead of the changes, which will come into effect next year.

Swedish carmaker Volvo said traffic at their showroom doubled, as they dangled discounts ranging between S$20,000 and S$30,000.

The luxury car maker has five models with an engine capacity of below 1,600cc.

But these models also have a high engine horsepower of more than 130 brake horsepower.

Customers said they are likely to buy now, as the cars they are eyeing could cost more once the new rules kick in.

INVS 2.0 said...

The change in Feb is to address the drastic increase in the COE quota coming Feb 2014.

I won't bother to write to anyone (too many ppl have written but fallen to deaf ears and blind eyes).

Consumers and readers like us have to make the efforts to do some research in order not to be fooled. :)

AhJohn said...

They should put some basic family car user cat A, eg. Toyota wish. Big family need a car more seriously.

Steven Yap said...

Hi AK,

Your fuel filter costs $282? I did my fuel filter change for Hyundai Getz for only 75rm labour and sgd$20 parts. I got the parts from the local hyundai stockist in singapore before going down to a authorised hyundai service center in jb to do the change. i dont trust jb parts lol...

You can actually save 50% of the cost of your parts just by going down to the local stockist to get the parts. You can save another 50% on labour by finding a reliable workshop in sg to do the labour/servicing. If you are concerned with the skill of the workshops, you can go down to jb authorised service centers, i m sure they handle way more cars than singapore service centers lol...

Thinking back, almost all the technicians in singapore r either from jb or china...

Best Regards,

AK71 said...

Hi Steven,

I wasn't aware that there are other sources of genuine Mazda parts in Singapore. Actually, I shouldn't be surprised. Singapore is a heaven for parallel importers. ;)

I have not visited JB in many years. I am kiasu but I am also kiasi. -.-"

Steven Yap said...

Hi AK,

All the authorised service centers have to get their parts from somewhere, usually they will have a few sources in singapore incase one source runs out of parts.

All these parts are all the same original parts that authorised centers sell to their customers at marked up prices. You can easily get the same original part at half the price of those at the service centers. They are of same quality, because all are from the same manufacturer.

No need to visit jb if u dont want. Any local reputable workshops can do these basic servicing at half the labour price.

You can save quite a lot by doing a bit of googling and reading forums. :)

Best Regards,

AK71 said...

Hi Steven,

It is certainly an idea. Now, there is this little fussy bit in my mind that says that my Mazda Service Record book will not be updated anymore if I do this.

This is my 3rd Mazda car and it would be the first time I don't have a complete Service Record book if I start getting my car serviced elsewhere. Might affect the resale value of my car. :(

I understand that there is always a trade off. I will have to sleep on this one. Thanks for sharing the information. I am smarter now! :)

AhJohn said...

hi AK, service record book? you have such a book.
I did service and get receipt only, list service items, so I throw away normally.

Steven Yap said...

Hi AK,

Np, Cheers!

Fyi, imo personal experience, dealers dont care much about the servicing record. They only care about how much they can take in your car for, usually its paper value... plus a little bit arouhd the market value range :(

When i asked them to quote for my car a few years back, they didnt even ask for any records... they just ask wats ur paper value...

Have a good day!

Best Regards,

AK71 said...

Hi Ah John,

Well, I don't know about the rest but I have a booklet from Mazda which they stamp, sign and record each time I visit. Every Mazda car I ever owned had one including this current car. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Steven,

When I bought this car, for example, the salesperson asked if my old car was serviced regularly by Mazda. When he found out that it was and I had the booklet to prove it, I was able to get a better price for it.

Apparently, the dealer could use the booklet to resell my car at a better price too. Prospective buyers who want to buy a car which has been maintained regularly by Mazda Motors would be willing to pay a premium for my car.

Well, it is possible that my experience is only applicable when dealing with Mazda Motors in the past. I don't know about now.

Chris said...

Hi AK,

I have a Mazda 3 and have not seen such large bill in my 8 years of ownership and major service intervals! I always buy mazda parts from stockist and service the car in the sin min former mazda workshop. I am surprise you spurge on your car. :) Let me know if you need details.

AK71 said...

Hi Chris,

Actually, this is a first for me. My largest bill was $400+ for my Mazda6 a few years ago. That was for a major service too.

This time, it was going to be $600+ but I asked for the fan belt to be replaced and that cost extra. I never had to change the fan belt in my other Mazda cars before but this one was making worrying noises in the mornings. :(

I don't splurge on cars. I just do what is necessary to give me a peace of mind. Well, owning a car in Singapore is already a big slurge, I suppose. Sigh.

It could be that TransEurokars (the new distributor) is more expensive compared to Mazda Motors in the servicing department. I will see how it goes with the next service. If prices remain elevated, then, it is possibly time for a change. -.-

AK71 said...


Very happy to report that I paid only $470 for a service package this time which covers the latest service and the next one too! Yeah! :)

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