The recent flux of horror stories about Singapore cars being stolen in Malaysia are perplexing, even to the most seasoned of drivers.
If you’re one of us who is struggling with the pros and cons for that to-die for chendol in Malacca, here are 8 things to consider before the drive:
1. Get some crucial phone numbers before going
Store telephone numbers of the local towing services, car servicing workshops, etc. in your phone.
The last thing you want is for your car to break down in the middle of a rubber plantation, and then find your smartphone has no internet connectivity and you can’t call for help.
2. Take all valuables, including your Singapore CashCard, out of the car
I’m not saying that crime is more prevalent in Malaysia, just that crime does happen – and it’s inconvenient to deal with the case when you get back to Singapore. You can minimise the odds of this by not making your car seat look like a shopping extravaganza – hide or better still, remove laptops, phones, shopping bags, etc. from car seats.
Also don’t forget to remove cash cards from the readers; thieves sometimes smash the windscreen to take the CashCard (these get resold in Singapore).
3. Make plans to switch drivers
It is advisable to switch drivers, or at least take a rest stop, every three hours. The maximum driving time that should be allotted to any one driver is around 10 hours, with adequate but don’t be a hero and push for that number.
Besides, you don’t want the driver to be cranky and unable to enjoy the shopping spree when you get there.
4. Check the tyres before you leave
Before starting on your trip, check that your tyres are well inflated, not balding, rotated, etc. And of course, make sure the spare tyre is in a "ready to use” condition. There are many rest-stops for drivers heading into Malaysia, but few of these have facilities for you to inflate or replace a tyre.
5. Avoid 9 am
On weekdays, the absolute worst time to arrive at either causeway is 9 am. This is the time when Malaysians working in Singapore (or vice versa) are on their commute. Major traffic congestion is often expected. I once grew a respectable beard just waiting for it to clear.
Try timing your trip at around 2 pm or 3 pm.
You can also check the live traffic cameras online, to gauge how packed it is.
Also, unless you are going into Johor Bahru, try to use the Tuas Second Link which is often less busy.
6. If you have young children, bring extra supplies for long traffic jams
Make sure you have spare nappies, milk, snacks, etc. for the children in the event of long traffic jams. Entertainment devices are also a good idea, particularly if you want to reach Malaysia with some semblance of your sanity intact.
7. Check that the customs officials correctly stamp everything
When you receive your papers back, never assume the customs official (on either end) has done everything correctly. Check to make sure that all the needed stamps are there, and that all the appropriate documents have been returned to you.
If you are caught missing an entry stamp later, or you can’t produce an important form, you could end up being questioned for several hours. And often by someone who doesn’t seem to speak English (or any other language, apparently).
8. Ensure your car insurance covers you in Malaysia
If your car breaks down in Malaysia, or you get into an accident there, are you certain your insurance covers it?
If not, you will have to bear the full costs. If your car is unable to be driven, you will also bear the cost of towing it back to Singapore (the cost of which is dependent on distance.)
Some car insurers, such as Aviva, sell policies that not only cover you in Malaysia but also Thailand.
You may want to consider these insurance plans if you drive abroad often.
For a quick and easy comparison of available car insurance policies, check out GoBear.com