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Parallel Importer vs Authorised Dealer

3 min read
When it comes to buying a car, are parallel importers necessarily better? Here we breakdown the pros and cons of each.

Singaporeans are always looking out for a good deal, and shopping for cars is one of them — just look at how crowded showrooms can get on a weekend!

It’s a popular notion that parallel importers offer a better deal than the authorised dealers. They seem to offer similar brand and model cars, and they may have some models that are not offered by the authorised dealers.

Before you commit to anything, though, take a minute to learn the differences between parallel importers and authorised dealers to get a better idea of what you are getting into.

Parallel Importers vs Authorised Dealers

Parallel importers are basically car resellers; they buy the cars themselves and resell them. They don’t invest in fancy marketing; neither do they have big showrooms with an army of salespeople to welcome you. However parallel importers have the flexibility of offering different specification models that authorised dealers don’t carry, and provide a wider range of models. And they sometimes go the extra mile for customers.

Authorised dealers, on the other hand, have swanky showrooms and professional salespeople to pitch that car to you. And most authorised dealers have their own workshops onsite to do servicing and repair jobs. They have specially trained mechanics that service their brand of cars. Coffee, tea, or maybe a sandwich while you browse? That’s par for the course. To remain the official distributor of a particular car brand, an authorised dealer has to invest huge amounts of money. These investments pay off when you, the consumer, decide to buy one of their cars.

Going beyond price

Here are other factors that you should consider.

  1. Warranty

With authorised dealers, you get better warranty on your car — they usually last three years or longer. You also get a servicing deal, with specially trained mechanics to work on your car. You never have to worry about their workshops ceasing operation abruptly, which is a potential scenario with the independent workshops that most parallel importers use.

  1. Replacement Part

Authorised dealers are usually well stocked and have ready original car parts for replacement, so there are no issues about getting them — just be prepared to pay a little more.

With parallel importers, it usually depends on the car and model. Parallel importers may not keep stock of replacement parts, especially if the car model purchased is not a common one.

  1. Exercise Due Diligence

With so many parallel importers plying their trade, it is always better to play it safe and check on their background beforehand. Always make sure to buy from licensed parallel importers. Also, look for customer feedback on car forums, and seek recommendations from trusted friends and family. Though not all are bad, some parallel importers have been in the news for unscrupulous dealings, so exercise due diligence. Buying from an authorised dealer is usually safer, as their reputation and distribution rights are on the line, so you can expect less risk purchasing from one.