Buying a PI (parallel import) car in Singapore.
So we’ve been married for slightly more than 2.5 years now. And the bustle of budgeting for a wedding, a house and renovation has settled into new budget categories known as “children” (we’re planning towards it, not there yet) and “shall we make the worst investment possible”, or also known as—”buying a car in Singapore”.
Now if you’re looking for budgeting advice, there’s tons of other blogs out there with much better advice on this. Also, disclaimer, Liz is typing here and I don’t even have a license. This entire post is a layman’s review of the experience of trying to find a reputable PI (parallel import) car dealer in Singapore.
For some reason, it is notoriously difficult to find reviews of any of them online. Most of the Facebook-active ones have great Facebook reviews on their own pages, of course. And for any of the companies, if you’re reading this, please don’t blacklist us, I’m going to be as objective as possible just from a “first impression” category.
- We’re looking at the Honda Fit hybrid, which isn’t available from an authorised dealer
- We want to find a decently priced one from a PI in our color of choice (yellow)
- We’re not necessarily looking for the lowest price, but one that provides the best after-sales warranty/servicing package
- So what’s important to us isn’t just price, but what life is going to look like after that when we need to service or replace car parts
- This is going to be our first car, and I generally err on the side of caution, so finding a CASETRUST-SVTA seller would be my preference, thus limiting our potential options to a much, much smaller pool of dealers.
A friend told me that most PIs are awful at after-sales and we’d be better off finding our own workshop after getting the car. So last weekend we pretty much drove all around Singapore to various PIs to check them out for ourselves. All the ones below are dealerships we personally visited and had a chat with a sales representative with.
DISCLAIMER: Like I said, this is a first impressions only review of these establishments. We haven’t bought cars from any of them nor do we know what their after-sales looks like. We’re postponing our purchase for now while we work out our finances. But if you have any PERSONAL recommendations or reviews on any of these places, do feel free to let us know!
The price of cars changes all the time, but just based on price alone, this is how they would’ve ranked.
- Trust Motoring (cheapest)
- Venture Cars*
- Cars & Coffee
- Tan Wei Auto*
- Jack Cars*
- Car Times* (most expensive)
* CASETRUST-SVTA seller
Quality of package
This is based on what was offered in the price, such as number of bids on COE, usual bonuses such as front/rear camera, 3M film, servicing/warranty etc.
- Car Times (5 years warranty, 8 times servicing up to 100km, own workshop)
- Venture (5 years warranty, 1 time servicing, own workshop)
- Jack Cars (5 years warranty, 1 time servicing, own workshop)
- Tan Wei (5 years warranty, 1 time servicing, partner workshop)
- Cars & Coffee (3 years warranty, 1 time servicing, partner workshop)
- Trust Motoring (3 years warranty, 1 time servicing, partner workshop)
Since PIs tend to have a pretty bad rep for many reasons + the only stories floating around the Internet tend to be the horror ones. (Hello, where all the positive reviews at?) This is based more on “gut-feel” of the salespeople who tended to our enquiry and the level of dodginess of the establishment.
- Tan Wei (this gets our vote – read more below)
- Car Times (Ubi less dodge than Turf Club. Very responsive on Facebook/Whatsapp)
- Cars & Coffee (free coffee and nice staff who served us)
- Jack Cars (inexperienced sales person)
- Venture (actually not super dodge, cos they have a big workshop, just felt the salesperson was a bit too pushy for our liking)
- Trust Motoring (!dodgevibes !spideysensetingles. But high SEO on Google, cos they put ads, and lowest price. And for some reason on SGCarMart they’ve a “Trust Motoring Edition”)
So after driving from Commonwealth to Turf Club, to Tagore Lane, and finally to Ubi, over the course of one Sunday after church while visiting a baby in Woodlands in the middle (what an exhausting sentence to type), this is our non-conclusive conclusion—since it’s not like we actually bought the car and all.
If we were to buy a PI car right now, our vote would go to…. *drumrollllll* Tan Wei Auto.
While not the cheapest, they did have the color we wanted (yellow).
Shallow reasons aside, our experience with this particular salesperson was the most professional, patient and well-explained for newbies like us. He even advised us that if we were not frequent drivers or traveled a lot for work, it would be better not to get a hybrid car as the battery needs to run regularly. As an added bonus, they are on the CASETRUST-SVTA list.
We liked Car Times too, but they are several thousand dollars higher than everyone else. I guess you pay a premium for them being one of the more reputable ones online. But between them and Tan Wei, both of whom have the most comprehensive packages, our vote would go to Tan Wei for the combination of having the salesperson we distrusted the least (I am generally not a trusting person), the better package and the CASETRUST-SVTA accreditation.
So does anyone else have any personal recommendations and reviews of PIs and the quality of their after-sales care? We’re putting off our purchase for a while more so would love to hear from anyone who has experience!