Motor Mouth

Don't rush to the showroom

With a stricter Vehicular Emissions Scheme looming, extending the lifespan of your existing car is going to be even more economical than buying a new or used one

With a significantly stricter Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) coming into effect from next January, car buyers are likely to make a lemming-like dash to the showroom, to put down money for that new car before the revised regulations push up prices.

If you are contemplating doing just that, please take a deep breath, exhale and reconsider.

Because if you join the madding crowd, you will, without a shadow of a doubt, help send prices northwards - the very thing you are trying to avert.

So what should you do? Besides doing deep-breathing exercises (which are good for you, by the way), you can ponder on a few other things. Take a walk. Talk to a loved one. Watch a movie on Netflix. Look out the window.

Anything but rush to the showroom.


Motorists dashing to buy cars will help send prices northwards. PHOTO: ST FILE

Seriously. If you want to buy a new car because your bank book can no longer accommodate anymore digits, the VES should not even be a consideration.

If your existing car is nearing 10 years of age and you absolutely need another car or your life as you know it will be extinguished, pause. Consider, instead, the option of revalidating the certificate of entitlement (COE).

No matter how you dice the numbers, extending the lifespan of your existing car is going to be more economical than buying a new or used one. Unless, of course, you are downgrading from a Mercedes-Benz S-class to a Toyota Vios - that will make more economic sense than revalidating the COE.

But if you are eyeing an equivalent car, why not eye your existing car (unless it is a real piece of c***)?

If your car was among the tens of thousands that were bought with some form of green rebate, better still. You will forgo much less in terms of scrap rebate if you extend. Much less.

And if you decide to extend, go for 10 years instead of five. Most cars will last 20 years with regular and proper servicing.

A 10-year extension also makes better money sense - you get to depreciate the scrap rebate forgone over a longer period; you can spread out your (COE) loan over many more instalments; and you have the option of further extensions when the time comes. If you extend for five, you have to scrap your car after five years.

For that reason and more, you will fetch a better price should you decide to sell the car midway.

But if you really, really have to buy a new car, rushing now will do no one - including yourself - any good. You will just end up contributing more to the tax coffers.

If you feel you have already been paying your fair share of taxes, you can do a simple exercise to avoid paying more.

This is how it works. First, convert the first and last letter of your name into a number. Second, multiply that number by the number of letters in your first name. Third, divide that by two. Translate the result into the number of days you should wait before heading to the nearest showroom.

For example, the first letter is "C" and the last is "E", and there are 11 letters in your first name. That means 3 + 5 (11) = 88. Divide 88 by 2. Wait 44 days.

The randomness of this should spread out demand and help avoid a spike in COE prices.

If you simply cannot bother, allow me to thank you in advance, on behalf of other Singaporeans, for contributing more to the country's tax revenue.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline 'Don't rush to the showroom'. Print Edition | Subscribe