10 Tips for Buying a Second Hand Car in HK

Wanting to buy a second hand car in Hong Kong? Used cars in Hong Kong may appear inexpensive, but there are lots of factors to consider.

Looking to buy a second hand car in Hong Kong? There are plenty of second hand cars available on the market; therefore, you will have a lot of options.

It’s not just the purchase price you need to consider; there are a lot of factors you need to consider. It’s essential to buy a car that will have good resale value.

Topics we will cover include:

  • The importance of the number of previous owners
  • Maintenance costs
  • Why you need to be wary of cars approaching seven years old
  • Questions you need to ask before you finalize a car purchase


1. Select a second-hand car with few previous owners

Select a second hand car with few previous owners.


It’s critical to focus on the number of previous owners of a second hand car. In Hong Kong, it’s actually one of the key factors that will determine the resale value.

There is a simple reason why fewer owners is better. It’s because there is a belief in Hong Kong that if a car has had few previous owners then you can assume the car has been well looked after.

In contrast, it’s considered more likely that a car with many previous owners has been less well looked after. Thus, implying that a larger number of previous owners could mean more mechanical issues down the road.

That’s why you should try to buy a vehicle that has a low number of owners. The first owner is considered to be the owner number “zero.”


2. Watch out for maintenance costs in HK

While it might be easy to buy a good second-hand car at a low price, one of the most important factors to consider is potential maintenance costs.

Maintenance costs are generally higher for European vehicles when compared to Japanese cars.

I have seen a friend buy a luxury European car at a low price, only to then spend three times the value of the initial purchase price in maintenance fees over the next 12 months as various issues popped up.

If you are looking for low maintenance costs in Hong Kong, consider Japanese carmakers. Not only are Japanese cars themselves ultra-dependable, but when it comes time to buy new parts for your car, your wallet will thank you.


3. Only buy a second-hand car in HK with full-service history from an official repair shop

buying second-hand car Hong Kong

It’s essential to buy a car which has a full service history. A full-service history should mean fewer maintenance costs for you, and it should also make it easier for you to resell the car at a later date.

It’s better to buy a car that has been serviced by the car maker’s official repair shop. Official repair shops tend to be more proactive about making repairs before significant issues arise.

On the other hand, if you buy a second-hand car that has been serviced by a random, back-street repair shop, it’s likely the vehicle has had minimum repairs done.

Minimal repairs will increase the chance of more significant problems arising as the quality is compromised.


4. Be wary of second hand cars approaching 7 years old

Vehicles that are seven years and older will need a roadworthiness inspection (MOT) by a government-appointed garage for you to be able to complete the annual registration. For this reason, you will tend to find an abundance of 7-year old cars for sale.

Try to avoid buying second-hand cars that are getting close to 7 years as you may end up spending quite a lot of money getting them maintained so that they can be considered “road-worthy.”

There is so much choice in Hong Kong; you should be aiming to be a car that is 2-3 years old to try and achieve the right balance between the initial purchase price, maintenance costs, and resale value.


5. Buy through individuals rather than dealers

It’s well known that some second-hand dealers in Hong Kong alter (lower) car mileage. For this reason, it’s often best to buy a second-hand car from an individual and, if possible, to buy a vehicle from the first owner of the vehicle.

If you can buy a second-hand car from a friend, then it’s even better. However, we recommend asking how many owners the vehicle has had if you wish to sell it at a later stage.


6. Get the car checked by a reputable, independent mechanic

Get a second hand car checked by a reputable, independent mechanic.

You should get any vehicle that you are seriously considering purchasing checked by a trusted, independent mechanic.

As we said previously in this article, prices of second-hand vehicles might appear cheap, but maintenance costs can really add up.

A trusted mechanic will check the vehicle body and structure, electrical equipment, engine, ignition and fuel system, cooling system, air conditioning, transmission, steering system, wheels and tires, brakes, and suspension.

This could save you a lot of time, money, and hassle down the road.

Most importantly, you always need to think about the resale value.

If the car you purchase ends up needing major repairs, not only will you have to pay for the repairs, but all the troubles will be recorded in the service book. These issues could lower your resale value.


7. Ask these questions before buying a second hand car

  • How many owners the car has had, as this will affect the resale value
  • Whether the vehicle has had any accidents – accidents happen, but you want to make sure any repairs were done properly
  • Whether or not there is a service history available (a full history is preferable)
  • When the last service was – if it was longer than a year ago, you may be looking at more immediate costs for upkeep and repairs, etc.


8. Certificate of Clearance

You want to avoid being associated with any unpaid tickets. To prevent this from happening, apply to the Hong Kong Licensing Office in order to obtain a Certificate of Clearance.

Be sure to finalize this Certificate before you finalize the purchase. The Hong Kong government won’t charge you for this certificate, and it will remain valid for 72 hours.

9. Car Insurance

Before you finalize the purchase of your second hand car in Hong Kong, don’t forget that it is required by law to have either your own fully comprehensive motor insurance or at the least third-party insurance cover.

If you don’t have insurance organized, then it’s illegal for you to be on the road.

The punishments for not following this law are strict, with fines up to 12 months in prison. The punishment for ignoring the requirement for a compulsory third-party policy can include a fine, a driving ban, and time in prison.

And you can’t just carry over the car insurance from the previous owner. All new owners must organize new insurance that has been applied and purchased under their own name.


10. Know the market

The last point we wanted to highlight is the importance of understanding current market prices for second-hand cars in Hong Kong. A particular deal might sound good in isolation, but how annoyed would you feel if find out later that you paid more than the market price?

There are plenty of websites with car classifieds. Do your homework to find out what typical prices are for the models you are interested in.

There is a huge second-hand market for all types of carmakers, including Tesla, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes Benz. With a little research, you are sure to find a huge amount of information about pricing for each particular model.


We hope this article helps you when you’re buying a second hand car in Hong Kong. Don’t forget that you’ve got plenty of options, do your homework, take your time, and you’ll be sure to find a great deal.


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