Cars are expensive in Malaysia compare to other countries around the region. Nevertheless, many expatriates opt to buy a vehicle simply because of the lack of a reasonable alternative form of transport. You don’t need to wait until your work permit comes through before buying a car, unless you need a loan to buy one. Take a good look around at what’s available before you buy one.
Locally made cars dominate on the roads as tax-breaks make them cheaper to buy, and they are easier to get fixed if things go wrong. Perodua is currently the biggest selling brand. It has a very popular small SUV, the Kembara, and two more modern small cars, the Myvi and Viva. Perodua has a better reputation than Malaysia’s other car maker, Proton, although recent launches have revived the company’s fortunes somewhat. Popular Proton models include the Saga, Wira, Waja, Persona, Gen-2, Savvy, Perdana and the Mitsubishi inspired Inspira.
You’ll see a lot of locally assembled models of Korean cars too; Hyundai (Innokom) and Kia (Naza) both have regional partnerships. Over the past couple of years, the choice of new models on the market has improved, while waiting times for new cars have reduced. At the beginning of 2006 you would have had to wait seven months for a new Toyota Innova or nine months for a Perodua Myvi, but now you’ll probably have your car within a few weeks.
Despite the excessive duty there are plenty of imported brands out on the streets, including Honda, Toyota, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Volvo. A new Honda Civic will cost about RM110,000. Hybrid cars are also popular, usually of the Honda and Toyota makes. Second-hand cars are correspondingly expensive, and even a six or seven year old Proton Saga will set you back RM12,000.
If you're buying second hand, there are few reliable dealers, so beware. City Motors in Bangsar caters specifically to expatriates and offers a good service. It will help with all aspects of car ownership, including insurance, transfer of ownership and paying road tax.
If you are not in Malaysia on an expatriate package or did not get a car allowance there are a couple of places where you should be able to find an affordable car. One of these places to look for second hand cars is at PJ Old Town. Here you can visit the car market every Sunday morning from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm.