How to buy a car, wisely [Philkotse Guide]

Jun 17, 2020 | Same topic: Best Advice for Car Buyers
Not sure as to what car to buy? This guide might help.

If you’re like us who likes to read and learn about automobiles, then surely you’ve noticed that there are hundreds of car models currently available in the Philippines alone.

For a novice car buyer, well…that’s a very intimidating prospect, and do note that we’ve heard of cases where a person bought a certain car model that he/she didn’t actually need and/or doesn’t meet his/her needs. In short, an unwise purchase. To help you avoid that, here are some steps that will guide you to a wise car purchase. 

A picture of the BMW Z4 parked near a cliff

Sure, sports cars are cool and all, but sometimes, they're not the cars you need

Consider your needs

There are a lot of car classes and body types out there. Each will come in different sizes, will have different capabilities, and each will be more suited to different lifestyles. As such, a car buyer should take stock of his/her needs more than wants.

Does your household have more than four members? Do you live in a steep or hilly part of the country? Do you need to go drive through rough terrain occasionally?

If you answered yes to all of these, then you might want to consider a powerful SUV like the Toyota Fortuner, Nissan Terra, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, etc. If you don’t need to go off-road, you might want to get an MPV. If you need to haul stuff, and if you’re less concerned with seating capacity, then a pickup truck might suit you better.

A picture of the Hyundai H350 on the tarmac

A vehicle like the Hyundai H350 might not be pretty, but its passenger capacity sure is impressive

If you answered no to those questions then you might be better off with a small hatchback or a sedan. If you have a very large household who needs to travel together sometimes, then you might need a van like the Toyota Hiace Commuter, Hyundai Starex, Nissan Urvan, or even something larger like that Ford Transit or the Hyundai H350.

Now obviously, what we said above can be expanded further, but you get the gist when it comes to car body classes and body types, right? Also, under each and every class of car, there are a lot of models from many different car brands to choose from.

So if you aren’t set on choosing one brand over another, or aren’t familiar with car brands at all, then we highly suggest you turn to the internet for help.

>>> Related: 10 reasons to buy Japanese cars instead of American

Do your research

For many of you, search engines like Google is one of the easiest ways to get information. From bird species identification, to cars, everything can be looked up with just a few keystrokes and a few clicks.

In relation to buying cars, all car brands here in the Philippines will have some form of website, or a Facebook page, which will contain information about the car models it is currently selling. 

From there, you can download brochures for each model and each of these will contain a list of mode’s specifications, from its engine, the type of transmission it’s using, what kind of features, it has, etc. Some car brands now even have an online showroom where you can preview a car inside and out, from many different perspectives.

Some will even have car financing calculators, which is potentially useful for providing you a preview of a certain model’s pricing details, from down payments, monthly amortizations, and the total price of a vehicle.

A picture of the Toyota PH virtual showroom

Car brands like Toyota even have virtual showrooms

If what you’re after is a second-hand car, there are also automotive classifieds websites like which lists thousands ofboth used and brand new car for sale. Apart from that, we also have detailed articles comparing a car model with its competitors, detailed price lists for all car brands available in the Philippines, guides on car buying, as well as the latest automotive news, which is very useful if you’re after the latest models.

And lastly, even before buying a particular car model, do note that there are many local car clubs for specific car models on Facebook. From there, you can read on comments, or even ask around for how the car is from long term owners, and if there are things to watch out for with a certain car model. 

Shop around and test drive multiple models

Like most products, there will be numerous competing brands in a certain market segment. This fact is apparent when it comes to cars, and more especially when it comes to passenger vehicles like sedans, SUVs, crossovers, and MPVs.

So after doing your research online, we highly suggest visiting an actual dealership to view a car model yourself. Also, we suggest you to test drive more than one model in a car class.

A picture of a family aboard the Nissan Terra

If you can, it's also a good idea to bring your family along on test drives

This is because while these competing models belong to certain, specific market segments, each and every single one will handle differently, will have different power outputs, and will have different features, etc. The latter is also true to some degree when it comes to a car model’s variants.

For used cars, consult our checklist

Buying a brand new car might be expensive for some so many of you will undoubtedly turn to used cars. These are definitely cheaper, but do note that older examples may have incurred wear and tear over the years.

As such, we highly suggest checking out our used car buying checklist to get your money’s worth out of a used car.

Take account of your finances

As a rule of thumb, the monthly amortization of the car you're wanting to buy should at least be fifteen percent or below of your total household income. This is not in any way a strict rule though, and it’s just a suggestion from us to you.

Also, we highly suggest a financing scheme where you can pay off the car in 36 months because car loans, like any loan, do come with higher interest rates the longer the amortization period is.

A picture of someone handing over car keys

Don't just buy the car outright. Ask questions, and allow for some time for you to think about the purchase

Other considerations

Apart from the things mentioned above, there are also other considerations when choosing a car model. Do you have a garage? If not, then that might be a problem. Does your significant other/other family members like the look of the car? Some might think that this isn’t important but for others, it might be.

Also consider your ability to maintain a car, especially if you’re going to buy a used one. Some second-hand cars after all do not have warranties anymore. And lastly, are you planning on selling the car years down the line? For this, you should also consider the car’s depreciation. Read our guide on cars that have a high resale value.

A picture of a family with their car

Some consider their cars a member of their family. It's that big of a milestone

For more tips on car buying and car selling, keep reading here on


Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar learned how to drive a car years before he got his license. Today, he's still looking for that perfect '90s Japanese coupe to drive into the sunset while listening to Crazy Little Love by Nuage. Also has a thing for badass off-road vehicles and weird engine swaps.