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In Singapore, a car is a big investment.
For one, car prices here are much higher than in other countries — a vehicle that costs over $100,000 here could cost a third of the price in Europe due to the Certificate of Entitlement, dealer’s margin, GST, duty and so on.
There are other fees too, such as buying the in-vehicle unit (you know, for paying ERP, parking and so on), the interest on your car loan, road tax, vehicular emissions, parking, petrol, and of course, insurance and maintenance.
With all of that added up, owning a brand new car could be akin to buying a new BTO flat in Yishun. So you’ll definitely want to make sure that you’re getting a smooth ride from this investment… without spending too much, of course!
If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get down to business, here are some practical tips to ensure a smooth experience (for both your car and your wallet):
Tyres: Know when to replace them
Car tyres have an average lifespan of about 5 to 6 years — under proper conditions, of course. In sunny Singapore, where there’s high humidity and exposure to sunlight, not to mention fluctuating temperatures (parking in an air-conditioned place, then driving out in the afternoon heat), that might affect your tyres’ lifespan. Your driving habits and even the road conditions could also play a part in determining tyre lifespan.
And just because the tyre is still attached to the wheel axle doesn’t mean it’s still functioning efficiently. Please don’t risk your life and others’ unnecessarily. Worn tyres could cause you to skid on a wet road, affect your braking ability, might make your tyres more susceptible to punctures, and on a less serious note, could impact fuel economy (and hence your wallet).
If your tyres have any of the following signs, you’ll need to get them replaced ASAP:
- The tyre tread is worn beyond the recommended levels
- There are holes in the tyre tread bigger than 0.6cm wide
- The sidewall is damaged
- The bead on the edge of the tyre is deformed/damaged
|What is tyre tread depth and how to check if it’s okay?
Tread depth is, essentially, the depth of your tyre’s grooves. Just like your shoes, deeper tread depth (or grooves), means there’s more grip on the surface. With time, a tyre’s treads (like your shoes) get worn with friction. In Singapore, the Land Transport Authority requires tyre tread depth to be at least 1.6mm. One easy test, according to Steer, is to place your 1-dollar coin (use the 2013 edition onwards) in the tyre tread with the word “dollar” towards the tread. The tread should cover all of the “dollar” word, else it’s time to get your tyres changed!
A tyre could cost anywhere between $70 to $1,000. Add to that the cost of getting a mechanic to fix them for you, and you’re looking at about $500 and upwards to change all 4 tyres.
Since 1 May 2021, Borneo Motors/Champion Motors has been the first in the industry to offer the Total Tyre Shield programme.
How it works: You get all 4 tyres changed from as low as $96 per tyre (Toyota/Suzuki) or from $160 per tyre (Lexus), with a complimentary tyre protection programme thrown in. That’s a sweet deal, considering that the tyre brands available include Dunlop, Michelin and Yokohama. (We feel it’s even worth it if you just change the tyres without using the tyre protection programme.)
Tyres: Make sure they’re well-maintained too
Your duty as a car owner doesn’t stop once you change your tyres. You also need to regularly check on them, keep them regularly maintained, and this will prolong your tyres’ lifespan while keeping you and other drivers safe on the road.
For example, if you continue driving while your tyres look fine but actually have lost some air pressure within, the increased friction with the road (underinflated) could increase wear and tear and decrease fuel economy (more $$ spent on petrol).
You probably have also heard about other drivers discussing regular maintenance that include tyre rotation (to ensure that the wear-and-tear on the tyre treads are uniform, and longer lifespan of your tyres) and tyre balancing (for smoother rides with less vibration). These could help improve fuel economy as well. Other tyre works you may also need include puncture repairs and patching.
A new tyre should have a tread depth of 8 to 9mm. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as you wear down your tyre, your braking distance could increase by 20% (normal, up to 4mm tread depth) and beyond that it goes up to double that of a brand-new tyre’s braking distance (dangerous, go change your tyres ASAP!)
Here’s a quick look at roughly how much these tyre repairs and maintenance works cost:
|Wheel alignment (rotation and balancing)||$50 to $100|
|Car tyre repair and patching||$50 to $80 (doesn’t include product price)|
You’ll want to go for servicing every 6 months or when you hit a certain mileage, say about 10,000 miles or so, to ensure that your tyres are well-balanced and the treads are all even. This could help you spend less on fuel too.
Assuming you send in your car for tyre maintenance every 6 months, that’s about $100 to $200 every year (assuming there’s no puncture). With Total Tyre Shield, you can pay absolutely nothing — there’s unlimited coverage for puncture repairs, patching, rotation and balancing. It’s actually a super comprehensive programme, with other car workshops offering limited sessions of free rotation and balancing only.
Learn basic skills so you can DIY
No, we’re not asking you to transform into a full-fledged grease monkey and buy a whole lot of auto tools and accessories. But it’s helpful to be able to carry out some simple works on your own… just in case!
For example, knowing how to change a flat tyre or jumpstart your car with jump cables could get you out of a pinch. You can also do other simple tasks such as changing your wiper blades, replacing air filters and non-headlight bulbs, touching up paint chips, patching up small tears on your leather/vinyl seat, and much more.
In addition to doing simple maintenance tasks, being more clued in about maintenance (even if you’re not doing it yourself) could help you be more aware of what the mechanics are doing at a workshop (especially if it’s your first time at this new workshop), what you’re being charged for, and even how to detect if your car might need a follow-up visit for a still-unresolved issue.
However, unless you’re a licensed mechanic, leave the main job to the professionals — they have all the gear and hands-on experience to tend to your ride on your regular 6-monthly visits.
Keep your car clean
Ugh, you don’t want to be that car owner with a million things in their car, a perpetually cluttered car seat, cookie crumbs on the carpet, dirty windows, choked up vents and even roaches running amok around your passengers’ legs.
While it’s common for a car to get cluttered, keeping it clean is a sign of good hygiene. Also, it’s kinda embarrassing to ask your passengers to hold on while you scramble to shift said clutter from your backseat to your boot when you offer them a ride — All. The. Time.
Also, bacteria, dust and grime can accumulate on your steering wheel, car seats, air vents (clean them out with an old toothbrush), in those tiny gaps and on your carpet. If you’re allergic to dust, this could keep your sneezing fit at bay.
Needless to say, clean windows improve visibility and prevent unneeded accidents from happening; while loading your car with too much junk might add to its weight and decrease fuel efficiency. Even washing and waxing the exterior of your car regularly does it good, as dirt, grime and salt could erode the car’s paint and metal too.
Some easy ways to help you keep your car clean include:
- Keep a trash can in your car (and emptying it daily)
- Keep wet wipes and tissues on hand to mop up spills or dirt
- Try to dust off your shoes before stepping into the car (muddy floor etc)
- Line cup holders just in case your drink leaks or spills over
Leave it to the professionals
We all have limited time and energy in a day, so it’s sometimes easier to just have a professional do everything for you. In the spirit of being MoneySmart, your best bet is then to seek out affordable ways to maintain your car for the smoothest ride possible.
Remember, when you perform regular servicing, your car and its tyres will be well-maintained, and any possible issues could be diagnosed or nipped in the bud before it becomes too serious to be rectified.
One of these ways is to get Total Tyre Shield, which offers the following benefits:
- Unlimited coverage of puncture repairs, patching, rotation and wheel balancing
- Tyre brands from Dunlop, Michelin and Yokohama
- Competitive pricing from as low as $96/tyre (Toyota/Suzuki) OR from $160/tyre for Lexus
- Skilled workforce (it’s under an Authorised Distributor) and peace of mind
National Day promo
From 1 July to 31 Aug 2021, get $56 off when you spend $556 during your vehicle servicing.
Find more service booking deals for your:
This comprehensive tyre protection programme is perfect for car owners, especially those who drive Toyota, Suzuki and Lexus. Find out more about Total Tyre Shield and purchase your set of 4 tyres now.