With complaints about defective second-hand cars forming the bulk of cases it has seen in each of the past five years, the consumer watchdog has come up with a list of car parts potential buyers should get checked before signing off on deals.
Developed after consultation with motoring industry players, such as the Automobile Association of Singapore and Singapore Vehicle Traders Association, the checklist can be downloaded from the websites of the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and SgCarMart.
Noting that disputes can be difficult to resolve if the condition of the vehicle at the time of purchase cannot be determined, Case said both buyers and dealers could protect themselves better by turning to the checklist.
For instance, dealers should check the air-conditioning, tyres, and lights, among other parts, and walk buyers through during the inspection of the car pre-sale. Case urged dealers to bring in an independent third-party to run the checks so as to better protect themselves should disputes arise subsequently.
The second half of the checklist is for professional evaluation centres, for parts such as fluid levels, suspension systems and the engine.
According to Case, the engine and gear box are most commonly reported to be defective.
Last year, Case received 2,916 complaints on the motorcar industry, of which 1,477 were on defective good. This is an increase from 2015's figure of 2,907 complaints on the motorcar industry, of which 1,245 were on defective goods. About three in five of cases taken up involved pre-owned cars, said Case.
In the first two months of the year, there were 221 complaints on defective goods in the motorcar industry, forming more than half (53 per cent) of complaints on motorcars.
Case said that roughly seven out of 10 consumers who approached them for help had not sent the car they fancied to a professional evaluation centre for checks before they paid up for it.
Under the Lemon Law, which came into effect on Sept 1, 2012, a car dealer has to prove that the car was not defective at time of delivery, if any defect was found within six months of delivery.