UAE: Used car buyers are getting ‘ripped off’

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As regulators work to clean up the UAE’s second-hand car industry, dubizzle Motors revealed on Saturday that more than 80 per cent of buyers’ bad experiences stem from dishonest sellers.

According to a new poll from the second-hand motors marketplace, 81.5 per cent of respondents attributed problem purchases to previous owners failing to disclose faults. This is despite almost three in four of those polled requesting the vehicle history ahead of the sale.

“Buying a second-hand car boils down to trust,” said Thomas Edelmann, the founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, which has partnered with dubizzle to raise awareness on safety concerns. “Sellers must be transparent about the condition of a car and buyers need to be more aware of what to look out for.”

According to the Ministry of Interior, the number of road deaths increased by 7.4 per cent from 2015 to 2016.

However, in the survey of 1,317 people, one in four said they would still buy a second-hand car without seeing the vehicle’s history.

The country’s used car market is being overhauled after the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (EASM) earlier this year announced a ban on the import, registration and insurance of vehicles that have been written off in other countries. The directive took effect on May 1.

“There is a big problem in the GCC with grey imports – particularly from the US,” said Ian Batey, the chief executive of the car valuation firm Autodata Middle East.  “Sixty per cent of all US imports were previously salvage vehicles that were written off. They should not be on the road here.”

Mr Batey said the company recently assessed the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of 107 US cars listed on dubizzle by third parties and found 64 of those were previously salvage.

“There are probably a lot of consumers selling a previously salvaged US import and they don’t know they are doing it,” said Mr Batey, adding that more transparency is needed.

While EASM’s new rule will ease this issue, many vehicles with damaged safety features – referred to as “coffins on wheels” – are still available in the market.

‘When you consider that 200,000 to 300,000 US cars hit the GCC in any given year, how many of those previously salvaged vehicles still exist?” said Mr Batey.

To help to combat this, Autodata is launching VinCheck next month to enable customers to check a vehicle’s history via the US’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. The company also launched VehicleCheck.live in April  to offer buyers a true value range for any car.

Other new players looking to prevent residents being duped into buying a sub-standard motor include Scout My Car, which carries out a 144-point inspection for Dh399.

The co-founder  Alexander Kappes said about 20 per cent of the cars it inspects are a “complete no go”.

And dubizzle Motors lists verified second-hand cars that have had a 90-point check through its partner Expat Wheels. A further 240-point check happens prior to sale.

“This way buyers can rest assured that the car is road safe and they should not face any issues in relation to underlying problems,” said Jean Piere Mondalek, the general manager dubizzle Motors.

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