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Buying your first car? Here’s what you need to know

Shaun · Oct 14, 2019 01:57 PM

First cars collage

First car is like your first love; you’ll get excited about it, make mistakes along the way, discover your likes and dislikes, but you’ll always remember it and depending on the situation, you’ll realise that money seems to be flowing out rather quickly.

Which is why it is important to know what you’re getting into when you buy your first car, because it's not as simple as merely paying the monthly installments and refueling the car.

Let’s start with maintenance and take the top selling brands in Malaysia like Perodua, Honda, Proton and Toyota as reference. Typical service interval is every 10,000 km or 6 months, whichever comes first. 

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Honda service center

Prices for normal or minor service are ranged from around RM 200 to RM 400. At 30,000 km or 40,000 km though, comes the major service that costs in the region of RM 500 to an eye-watering RM 1000. That’s a lot of bubble tea.

And it does not cover wear and tear items like wipers, brake pads, tyres, etc. Wipers can be bought for as cheap as RM 20 for a pair and reach up to hundreds if you’re willing to spend. Same goes for brake pads, though generally a little more expensive than wipers. 

Tyres for 14-inch rims cost from around RM 120 – RM 150 depending on exact size, brand as well as seller. Likewise for 15-inch rim tyres, only pricier from about RM 170 – RM 250.

Wheel balancing

Then there is the matter of insurance. Assuming you haven’t had any car registered under your name before, you won’t get to reap the benefit of the No-Claim Discount (NCD). Meaning you’ll have to pay the full price for the first year and slowly accumulate your NCD rate.

Insurance prices will vary not just between car brands and models, but to the individual as well. Which is why locally, car brands do not quote prices inclusive of insurance anymore. 

But here’s just a rough guide on insurance prices, which comes around annually. If your car is insured for RM 50,000, it will cost you around RM 1,500 to insure. If the car is valued at RM 80,000, you’ll have to fork out about RM 2,300. 

Road tax should not be an issue for most as cars at the entry level price range with 1.5-litre or 1.6-litre engines require RM 90 to renew annually.

Not scared away yet? Good. Because we have a few recommendations for you as a first time car buyer. These are the highlights:

Perodua Myvi

Perodua Myvi front

The king of the road people’s car, it has been Malaysia’s best-selling car for years now and it’s easy to see why; The Myvi offers great value, it’s reliable, spacious, relatively cheap to maintain and holds its value fairly well come resale time.

Driving wise, there’s nothing much to shout about. The powertrain is mundane, throttle response has been dulled compared to the previous “Lagi Best” generation, but it takes corners better than before with less body roll. It’s no Proton Iriz though. Ride comfort is decent, if not a little firm and can be noisy at highway speeds.

It’s well equipped too, all variants get electronic stability control and if you opt of the Advanced variant, you get an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) which has Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) that can engage the brakes automatically to avoid collision ahead.

Proton Saga

Proton Saga front

Need a sedan but on a budget? Then the Saga should be on top of your list. Proton gave it a nip and tuck a few months ago, the biggest change being the swap from the dreaded CVT to a conventional 4-speed automatic transmission.

Proton also said it has improved on Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) and it’s evident at highway speeds, being noticeably quieter than the Bezza and feels more stable as well. The Saga also has the upper hand when it comes to handling.

However, it can’t quite compete with the Bezza when it comes to fuel efficiency. That said, if your commute involves winding roads or a good amount of highway driving, this is a great choice.

Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto front

This one is a personal favourite. If interior space is not high among your priority, the Kia Picanto is practically a no-brainer.

It comes equipped with six airbags, stability control, and AEB on the GT-Line variant. It even has disc brakes on all four corners, the only car in its segment to have it. Plus, the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The Picanto rides like a bigger car, soaking up bumps with a suppleness that you just don’t expect from a car of this size, and the cabin is quieter than the Myvi's.

So there we have it, what you need to know upon buying your first car. More than just budgeting for the monthly installment and fuel, you'll need to factor in maintenance costs, insurance and road tax. Now that you're aware, consider the recommended choices based on your preferences. Go get it!


Senior Writer

The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.

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