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By Car Switch

More than 100,000 used cars are sold in the UAE every year, and this comes as no surprise due to the structural advantages the UAE affords them. With a large transient population, no VAT exposure, mandatory insurance and plenty of manufacturer warranties, finding a used car in fantastic condition, for a fraction of the price new is easily attainable.

Earlier this year we crunched some numbers and deduced that new cars lose about 20-30% of their value in the very first year of purchase.

The biggest fear around used cars is of course the chance of off-setting your savings by later identifying unforeseen damages in the car. But what exactly are the odds of that happening and why do people fear it so much? What are most common used car problems in Dubai? How can residents be made to feel more confident about purchasing used cars?

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CarSwitch only features used cars from 2010 model and above and last year it inspected over 3,000 cars as part of its value proposition. The results of this inspection are presented on its website and can be used to draw valuable conclusions about what to expect from your next used car purchase in Dubai.

The 5 most common issues found after analyzing the car inspection data were:

Repainted panels (50% of cars): The litmus test for accident history is checking for repainted panels. CarSwitch found half of the cars inspected had at least one repainted panel. This is detected through certified paint meters that test the density of the paint to identify repainting. The classic test of checking with the seller, the agency, or insurance provider, for accident history is insufficient as repairs could have been made by a previous owner, an independent garage or under an older insurance policy! Although, it is not unusual for a used car to have had an accident, be cautious of several repainted panels which could indicate a more severe accident that could lead to future problems with the car. 20% of inspected cars displayed several repainted panels indicating more major accidents.

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Dented RIMs (40% of cars): Inspections revealed 40% of the cars had either dented or scratched RIMs. These are slightly more complicated to repair than regular body scratches, primarily because a serious dent on the RIM can affect car alignment. This means that the car no longer drives in a straight line on high speeds. Where scratches can be identified with a simple visual check, a test drive on a highway is needed to reveal more serious damage to the RIMs.

Brake pads (10% of cars): Worn out brake pads are not an alarming concern as they are a consumable body part that requires replacement after a certain mileage depending on their specifications. However, this does come as an immediate cost on the buyer and for those looking to buy a higher end sports car that typically comes with ceramic brakes then +1,500 AED expense per brake pad can be expected.

Battery damage (5% of cars): A small proportion of inspections revealed battery problems which is expected as once identified it is certain that replacement is needed. And, most sellers are forced to replace the battery shortly thereafter to ensure continued operability of the car. Note here, if the car is still under manufacturer’s warranty the battery can only be replaced at the official agency to not void the warranty and that can be rather costly (on the order of AED 2,500).

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Engine and / or transmission leaks (5% of cars): This is a red a flag for buyers, as the root cause of a leak is often difficult to determine. The diagnosis of a leak could require the disassembling of the engine / transmission which in itself is both costly and time consuming.

When considering used cars one must expect some wear and tear. A minor scratch or dent is certainly more acceptable than more serious engine and transmission issues. Overall, always recommends that one get used cars inspected in order to avoid any unexpected costs after purchase!