10 Essential Steps Before Buying a Car in Hong Kong

  • By
  • Spacious
  • June 23, 2020

From selecting a heritage car make, comparing luxury models, down to getting a license, and finding the right dealership, here’s a guide on things to look at before splurging on a new set of wheels.

Looking at busy roads and all those gorgeous and luxurious Hong Kong Cars, it may seem relatively easy to find the ideal vehicle for you. However, finding and purchasing the right one that suits your lifestyle and budget can be a long and tedious process. Even just looking into various details such as body type, and car make can be taxing to non-car enthusiasts. However, Hong Kong citizens simply can’t deny the fact that it has become a necessity to own a car.

Categorized as a big-ticket item, a car is the second most expensive household expense, next to buying a house. It’s crucial to be thorough in your search for buying one as it is a significant investment. So whether you’re a collector or a practical owner, here are ten tips for picking your shiny, beautiful car in Hong Kong.

1. Get a Hong Kong license

Before even thinking about getting your own set of wheels, you need to have an HK-issued driver’s license. You can’t become a registered Hong Kong car owner, nor can you apply for car insurance without a local license, a valid HKID, and a residential status. Fortunately, if you’re from out of town, you have the option to apply for a full or temporary Hong Kong license without a driving test.

Here is a list of approved countries for the direct issue of a full driving license. Otherwise, you have to go through the complete application process and driving test.

2. Figure out what you need AND want in your car

To find your perfect car, you have to think about your personal preferences. Do you adore classic cars that give a collector a run for his money? Or are you the type who can’t pass up on an excellent looking coupe? Perhaps, you love a family-friendly SUV that fits everyone, including the spoiled family pets. Regardless of your liking, it always helps to have a checklist ready where you can tick boxes to make sure you’ve gotten everything right.

Think of a list of essential requirements such as size, driving performance, comfort, fuel efficiency, low maintenance needs, car battery, safety and reliability, and price. Then come up with a list of negotiable things, like the makeup of the car.

Try your best to hold back the emotions when coming up with this list. Imagine yourself driving your new car and take a look at what you’re using it for. We understand it’s hard to pass up on that stylish Ford Mustang, but is it that much of a difference from that luxurious Bentley Continental you purchased three years ago?

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3. Research, research, research

The internet offers a myriad of resources when one is searching for a vehicle. But, because of the hundreds of models out there, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Having a list of non-negotiables and negotiables will come in handy.

Next, narrow your choices down slowly. One way to do this is by conducting side-by-side comparisons. There are vehicle platforms that offer this service so you can conveniently compare premium subcompact crossovers next to each other, for example. Do you think that posh Audi Q3 2.0 TDI Quattro is more or less the same as that deluxe Lexus NX 300 F Sport? By comparing each vehicle’s features side by side, you’ll be able to look through the difference in detail.  By then, you would find out which car has more features that speak to you.

Additionally, you have the luxury of looking at Hong Kong car reviews online. Check out what car companies, brands, car rental reviews, owners, and car experts in the region have to say about the models you’re considering. You can learn so much more about the model you’re eyeing by looking at third-party opinions.

4. Find a reliable dealership

If you’re looking for a new car, most major car brands have dealerships in Hong Kong. Do a quick Google search on the locations that are closest to you. You may also visit direct buying sites and do all transactions online, or find dealerships that will import cars for you. Physically check the vehicle first before making any purchase.

If you’re looking to buy a used car, you can go to second-hand dealerships that offer a wide variety of models. Some even provide short-term warranties. The web offers abundant resources for used cars, such as direct-from-owner sales for car change of ownership, and online listings. Otherwise, there’s the trusted Hong Kong car classifieds or pin-up signs in your local supermarket.

5. Ask the right questions

Before you take your pick, get to know what you’re getting into first. Always ask questions. Ask about how long the warranty is and what it covers the vehicle history, or any additional fees. Inquire about the mileage when the last service took place, its maintenance details, features and add-ons, and types of financing that are readily available for you as a consumer.

Whether you’re buying a second-hand vehicle or a brand new car, it’s essential to know what you’re getting yourself into.

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6. Take it for a spin

To determine which of your options is ‘the one’, take them out for a test drive.

Before you get into the driver’s seat, make a thorough inspection of all the features of the car. Look around it, test the door handles and seat belts, look at the storage spaces like glove compartments and cup holders, test out the speakers, and check if the driver’s seat is comfortable and easy to adjust.

Concentrate on your driving experience and take your time. Whether you’re an expert driver or a newbie, you should observe the ride comfort, noise, power and acceleration, braking, and handling. Is the ride smooth and comfortable? How does the vehicle feel when you push on the gas pedal? Does it stop smoothly when you push on the brakes? Is the turning radius tight enough to make a U-turn? Is it easy to park and manoeuvre? Pay attention to all the little details that make a pleasant driving experience.

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7. Have the car inspected

The car may have passed your test-drive requirements, and you checked the vehicle history report, but it does n’ stop there. Although the dealership does provide a certificate that states the vehicle has been properly inspected, it’s best to have the car looked at by an impartial, third-party service provider.

Ask the dealership to use its workshop for the impartial inspector to conduct the inspection. The inspector can place the car on a lift and check if there are any damages underneath. Despite the extra expense, it’s 100% worth it. The inspection will reveal any repairs that the dealership needs to undertake, as well as an unreported accident.

8. Get quotes from multiple dealerships, then wait

To get a good grip on the right price for your car, make sure to get at least three quotes from different dealerships. The more quotes you have, the better your deal will be. Give the car dealerships a chance to beat the lowest bid.

Additionally, a tip for getting the best price for your car is to wait until the end of the month to make your purchase. Hong Kong car dealers will sell you a vehicle below cost if you catch them at the right time. Salespeople have quotas to hit each month, so the best time to negotiate a price is towards the end of the month, as you may be the deciding sale on whether or not they get that bonus.

a-car-under-bridge

9. Get insurance

This one is a step that you absolutely cannot skip. It is even mandatory to have car insurance before purchasing a car. The type of vehicle you choose and the history of your driving record can have a profound effect on the cost of insurance. Typically, sports cars, high-performance cars, turbocharged or supercharged vehicles, those with larger engines,  four-wheel drives, and other cars prevalent in Hong Kong car culture often result in higher insurance rates. Also, vehicles with histories of being stolen can demand a premium.

In most cases, third-party motor insurance plans are the most practical option, as they’re designed to cover the minimum level of motor coverage required in Hong Kong. Comprehensive motor insurance, on the hand, is relatively more expensive, as it includes the insurer’s vehicle, as well as several optional extras like windshield damage and vehicle towing coverage. Although comprehensive policies are pricier, they can present better value in the long run. Again, cars are long-term investments, so it’s essential to think about your future with it. Check rates across various providers and compare their coverage to find the one that suits you best.

To lighten the burden of insurance expenses, you can take advantage of a no-claims discount. This no-claims discount is a markdown based on the number of years in which you haven’t claimed on your car insurance policy. Concessions can be up to 60% depending on the number of years you’ve been driving without a claim.

Bottom line is get as much coverage for your car as you can. Don’t skimp on your insurance because that could hurt you in the long run.

10. Ask for rebates, but say no to add-ons

To finish off the negotiation process, ask the dealer about any special rebates you might be eligible for, on top of a general rebate for everyone. Most manufacturers have rebates for various situations, and you may qualify for some of them. These include military/veterans, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, first-time buyers, college graduates, conquest (i.e. if you own a particular competing car already), or loyalty (if you already own the same brand of car).

The dealers don’t create the rebates so typically don’t push to promote them.

Finally, don’t get tempted by the extras they offer you after you’ve already agreed on a price. These can include physical add-ons like flashy rims, bright headlights, and extended warranties. More often than not, extras that dealers sell last-minute tend to be overpriced and unnecessary. Save cash in the process by getting these items later. You can even find Hong Kong car accessories online or visit a car body shop.

Best neighbourhoods to own a vehicle, plus car parking

Hong Kong is not short of modified vehicles and car lovers. But, for certified petrolheads, the best places to be would be outside the city. Through the streets of Kowloon, Pok Fu Lam, and Sha Tin, or the vast roads of Lantau Island, Sai Kung, Clear Water Bay, and other parts of The New Territories, these places offer you the most opportunities to make the most out of your ride.

However, whether you’re a city folk or not, the eternal problem for many Hong Kong car owners is parking. Luckily, with the city’s technological advancements, you’re able to find parking with the touch of a button. There are different mobile applications, like Hong Kong eRouting and TingPark, that offer you the opportunity to find car parks with available parking spots, so you don’t have to waste time driving to a full car park. With the convenience of these apps, you can take parking off your list of things to worry about.

To wrap it up

In conclusion, don’t rush your purchase. Car companies and auto dealers in Hong Kong count on consumers being susceptible to fast talk, flashy features, and their emotional reactions, so don’t let that get the best of you. Do your homework and find a car that will make you happy for years to come. If you follow these tips, you can be sure that you’ll get yourself a good deal.

When you pick your car, buy what makes you happy but make sure it’s practical. Just buckle up your seat belt and enjoy the ride.

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