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Avoid the Horror! Tips to Trade in Your Used Car Smoothly

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

So, you're trading in your old ride for a new one with a car dealer. Sure is exciting but how do you ensure that you are getting the best deal? Most importantly, how do you make sure that it will be a smooth and proper transaction?

We have read of horror stories of car buyers finding out that the cars that they traded in were never transferred to the car dealers and they ended up with two cars and two car loans!

Read on as we break them down.

Trade in Value

There are a few things that you must first find out before you start talking to a dealer.

  • Go to the onemotoring website. Go to 'Selling/Deregistering' tab at the top. Scroll down to 'Enquire PARF/COE rebate for registered vehicles' and click. Once you have entered the details of the car, your ID and intended deregistering date, there will be a 'Total Rebate Amount'. This is the minimum trade in value of your car and if the dealer doesn't want to give you more then it definitely should not be less.

  • Next, check the car online portals such as sgcarmart. Go to the used cars sections and filter down to a car model that is similar to yours in terms of age and mileage. You should be able to have a range of selling prices to estimate how much your car is roughly worth when trading in. Knock off a few thousand as dealers would have put a profit on it before advertising in the portal

Full Settlement for Loan

Call the bank or the finance company for the car loan that you are currently paying for. They will advise you of the full settlement amount and date the amount is valid to. Please take note of these two very important information.

By now you will be able to roughly gauge by deducting estimate selling price from full settlement figure whether you will have profit, break even or you have to top up to settle the loan.

Sell by Yourself or Sell to Dealer?

At this point of time you can decide whether you would like to sell the car by yourself or you would like to trade in with a dealer when buying your new car.

It will depend if you have the time and the patience to advertise the vehicle and attend to customer enquiries. If you have, you may get a few thousand dollars more for your car! You must also make sure that you understand the required transactions and processes of selling directly to another person.

If not, the fastest way will be trading in through a dealer directly. You can put your vehicle on consignment as well if you have time. The dealer will do the work and you pay them a commission.

Most of the time, car buyers will trade in the vehicle directly with the car dealers for their new ride. While they may lose a bit in the selling price, it is the fastest way to deal and also due to the timings involved. One car in and one car out!

Getting the Best Deal

By now, you should have your shortlist of the next car that you would like to buy and the selling car dealers.

We have written another article about buying a car in Singapore. For the detailed article, please click here.

Start calling the dealers that are on your shortlist. They will ask for your details (last 4 digits ID and vehicle registration number) and they will check with their purchasers before giving you an offer. Please note that this is not the final offer but you will have a gauge of who is willing to take your car for more. There is always a chance to negotiate for a higher trade-in value when you are face to face with the dealer, especially if your car is in a very good condition.

Once you are done on your dealer visits, decided on your next car, given the costs breakdown and sales agreement, it is important that you take note of the next few important items and processes.

Full Settlement Transaction

  • Ensure that the full settlement amount is the same as what you were given by the bank or finance company. Ensure that it is written in the sales agreement that the settlement must be made by the due date and that any differences must be paid by the dealer if not settled by then.

This is important because if the settlement is not done by the due date, you will have to pay the instalment to avoid late fees. However, the full settlement amount would have changed because of this and because of the interest charges you might lose a few hundreds for something which is not your fault.

For example:

Full settlement amount: $53,000

Monthly Instalment: $1,000

Full settlement amount after instalment : $52,300 (there is interest so it would not be a clean -$1,000 from the original amount of $53,000)

See that even if the dealer pay $52,300 to the bank and then pay you $700 to make it $53,000, you have lost $300 because you paid $1,000 for the last instalment! Ensure that the dealer agrees to pay the $300 to you as well.

Transfer of Ownership

Now this is very important. You will need to make sure and keep a close eye on the following:

  • Check with the bank or finance company to confirm that the dealer has sent over the full settlement form. Ask for a copy

  • Everything is done online on the onemotoring website using your Singpass. Do not give your IC to the dealer! Last time, I used to worry that my IC will be misused (eg. loanshark) when the dealer took it to get the PIN number for vehicle transfer.

  • Make sure that you apply for transfer of your vehicle to the dealer and they accept the transfer request within 7 days. The dealer will then need to settle the vehicle financing before they can complete the transfer of ownership

  • If you need to retain your number plate, it must be done during the same transfer application in the point mentioned above. You will be required pay the retention fees online as well

  • Double check with your bank and finance company if the car dealer has settled the vehicle financing

  • The car that you are buying will also be transferred to you online and you will need to accept the transfer on the onemotoring website

The wonderful thing about the transfer of ownership process now is that LTA will send an SMS to your phone for every transaction. So if the dealer did not accept the transfer within 7 days you will be notified. If the dealer has settled the financing and completed the transfer you will be notified by SMS as well. Same thing also for when the car is transferred to you.

Important tips!

  • The transfers might not be completed yet but the dealer may tell you to send in your old car and pick up the new car first to drive. You may be excited to pick up your new ride but our advice is not to do that. It may take 2 weeks or so for all the processes to be done but tell the dealer that you will pick the car up and send in your car at the same time after both transfers are completed properly

  • Remember that you cancel your motor insurance after you send your old car to the dealer

We hope that the information in this article will be useful and can ensure that you do not end up with the horror of a new car and a new loan to pay plus your old car still under your name with loans still outstanding as well.

At the end of the day, if you keep your due diligence on the processes and is constantly checking, the dealer will know it as well and will not try to pull a fast one! is an automotive and lifestyle services provider. We strive to bring you great content, product reviews and smart deals on our online store. Look us up on our social media platforms and please follow, like and subscribe!


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