Used car dealers report an increase in “fairly new” car trade-ins; people are opting for more affordable cars

While some people have begun downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, for others, it’s a crushing reality check of what’s impermanent, like cars.

Chang Keng Keong, a manager at a used car dealer, told The Star that there has been a slight increase in the number of people wanting to sell their cars, especially after the dealership reopened once the MCO period ended in June. Some of the cars have only been used for less than two years.

When the loan moratorium period ended, Chang approximated a 30% increase of people wanting to sell their cars, but some changed their minds because they cannot afford the difference between the market value of their cars and the amount of loan left to service.

“For example, if the car still has RM50,000 worth of loan and its market value has fallen to RM40,000, the owner would have to fork out another RM10,000 to sell off the car and stop paying monthly instalments.”

“Of the number of car owners who reached out to us, we were only able to buy half of the cars offered. The rest of the car owners were unable to come up with enough money to pay off the bank loan,” Chang said.

Separately, another used car salesperson, Viktor Ooi said his outlet received a monthly average of 20 enquires over the past few months. “Some of them are those who recently lost their jobs in Singapore and are now working in Johor where the pay is comparatively lower. They could no longer afford to service their car loan,” he said, adding that were also those who wanted to trade in their cars (also less than two years old) for a cheaper one.

Second-hand car dealership operator Peter Soong said there were more people buying used cars between June and August, but the number has returned to normal. “Most people who come to my shop are those wanting to sell or trade in their cars,” he said.

Besides cars, vehicles such as vans were also being sold more frequently since the moratorium ended. Johor Motor Hire Purchase and Finance Companies Association president, Lum Chen Fook said many of these vans were previously used to ferry tourists before the MCO.

“Due to the effects of the pandemic on the tourism industry, some tour operators have decided to sell off the vehicles.” Lum also estimated a 30% increase in the number of people disposing of the vans. “We started to see an increase last month when tour operators felt that it would take a long time for the industry to go back to normal,” he said.

Meanwhile, sales of used cars in the past few months have skyrocketed, following the government’s announcement of Penjana, its short-term economic stimulus plan. The month of June saw year-on-year a jump of more than 100%, and the momentum carried over into July when sales went up by another 30% – a historic high.

Another factor for the uptick in used car sales comes directly from people who trade-in their older cars to buy new cars during this sales tax-free period. And then of course, you have those who are downgrading for reasons outlined above, as well as people who choose to buy new cars instead of using public transportation. You know, for hygiene reasons.

Proton and Perodua are both enjoying higher sales volume in the past few months, with the latter achieving an all-time high of 26,852 units sold in October. If you’re shopping around for a used/recon car, be sure to check out our comprehensive used car buying guide, which details the things to look out for before you ink that deal.

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