SINGAPORE - A checklist to help consumers ensure a thorough inspection of pre-owned cars before purchase was launched by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) on Thursday (March 16).
The Standard and Functional Evaluation (Safe) checklist was developed to address the large number of car complaints Case receives annually, which relate mainly to pre-owned cars with defects.
The car industry remained the top source of complaints for the fifth year in a row in 2016, according to statistics released by the consumer watchdog in February. About 60 per cent of filed and assisted cases relating to cars the organisation handled in 2016 involved pre-owned cars, while the number of complaints about defective cars jumped from 844 in 2014 to 1,477 in 2016, to make up about half of complaints against the industry.
About seven in 10 complaints on car defects are from consumers who did not obtain a professional evaluation report from inspection centres such as Vicom and STA Inspection, Case said.
These disputes can be difficult to resolve due to difficulty in establishing the condition of the pre-owned car at the point of purchase. Under the Lemon Law, the onus is on the car dealer to prove that the car was not defective at the time of delivery if any defect is found within six months. If found defective, the seller is obliged to repair or replace the product, or refund the price. The law does not cover consumer-to-consumer sales.
The Safe checklist, launched at Case's Motoring and You roadshow, was developed in consultation with stakeholders in the motoring industry, such as the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association (SVTA), Vicom, STA Inspection and the Automobile Association of Singapore.
It lists the basic functional and visual checks that a car dealer should go through with the consumer during pre-sale inspection, as well as the minimum checks performed by a professional evaluation centre. Case strongly recommends that consumers request for a pre-owned car to be sent for inspection at a professional evaluation centre before committing to the sale.
Speaking at the launch at Chevron House on Thursday, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann said that the checklist will help to minimise consumers' risk of buying a "lemon".
To encourage fair trading and consumer-friendly practices, Ms Sim also urged businesses to participate in the CaseTrust accreditation scheme. The SVTA, a body made up largely of used car traders, has tapped on funding from Spring Singapore to develop and implement CaseTrust accreditation schemes for its members, she added.
"I encourage consumers to purchase from CaseTrust accredited businesses so as to send a clear signal that such good practices are welcomed, and more businesses will come on-board because good word of mouth would attract more customers," she said.
A copy of the Safe checklist will be available on the Case website at www.case.org.sg from Friday.
The Motoring and You roadshow will be held at Change Alley, Chevron House on Thursday and Friday between 11.30am and 2.30pm.