Here are the things to know when buying second-hand cars

Looking to buy a used car? We speak to the experts to bring you some tips on making sure you get the right ride for you

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If you’re on the lookout for your very first car or are planning to replace your current model, it’s worth considering buying a pre-owned vehicle.

Buying a used car is a cheaper option than going for a brand new model and is also the idea solution for those who don’t qualify for car loans for whatever reason.

That said, as with any second-hand purchase, there will always be questions related to reliability and security – and that’s totally understandable, especially in the case of vehicles where safety is of utmost importance.

So what should you keep in mind before buying a pre-owned model? We speak to an expert to get some recommendations.

Limit your search

First, it’s important to know what type of car you’re looking for based on your needs.

Do you want a big vehicle to accommodate your growing family? A small and sturdy model just to get you from A to B? An off-road vehicle for your desert adventures? Whatever the reason, having a clear picture of your desired ride will cut down your options and ultimately save you time.

Next, determine your budget and start to gauge what you can expect to find within it.

“A car that is under two years old will generally still have a remaining service contract and warranty, and can be purchased for up to 50 percent less than the original price,” notes Nasrullah Chaudhry, co-founder of wecashanycar.com, an online car buying and selling platform recently acquired by Dubizzle.

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Nasrullah Chaudhry, co-founder of online automobile buy and sell platform, wecashanycar.com.

“A general rule is that most cars depreciate around 20 to 25 percent in the first year, and a further 15 percent per year thereafter. This can vary greatly depending on the model as some cars depreciate quickly while others hold their value very well.”

Create a checklist

Buying a car – even a secondhand one – is a major purchase. So make sure that you’ve done plenty of research when it comes to finding credible and reliable sellers.

Thoroughly checking websites, reading car reviews and communicating directly with the person selling the vehicle can all help with this.

Last year, Dubizzle revealed that 81.5 percent of second-hand car buyers in the UAE admitted to having an unpleasant experience when purchasing a used car due to underlying issues that the seller failed to disclose.

It’s important to ask for a service history for the car you are interested in, plus its accident history and warranty status, and to have a reputable specialist give it a once over too.

“There is a general saying in the motor industry that one in three cars has a hidden history. While some sellers may be honest and disclose imperfections and previous repairs, others may not be so forthcoming,” warns Nasrullah, who points out that impulse buying is the most common mistake among secondhand buyers.

“I have seen many people end up with cars that are not even considered roadworthy. It’s always worth getting a car checked out by a specialist before parting with your money.”

Many car buyers will purchase on impulse out of fear of losing a potentially good deal. However, taking time to carefully assess the model and its condition can save you from future headaches.

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“It’s recommended to compare like-for-like, as some cars have more options than others – mileage, balance of service contract and warranty; check for any immediate expenses such as tyres or an impending service, number of previous owners, projected maintenance and running costs during ownership.”

He continues: “The first thing is to start with the basics, including checking the service history, looking through previous invoices for repairs and ensuring the mileage ties up with the odometer and it reflects the car’s condition.

“If there is a warranty or service contract on paper, it’s also worth calling the main dealer and getting them to verify that it’s valid.

“The most comprehensive test can be carried out by the local main dealer, although there is usually a premium for this and it can take time,” confides Nasrullah.

“An alternative would be an independent workshop. However, I would recommend a brand-specific specialist as they have a far better understanding and will be more competitively priced.”

If you’re serious about the car, then it’s time to take it for a test drive.

“This should be 15 to 20 minutes long to really get a good feel for the car – it’s surprising how many people sell their cars because they didn’t like it after driving.”

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During the test drive, listen out for strange noises, particularly over speed bumps and when turning, and note any jitters, poor acceleration and the performance of the brakes are they slow to respond or noisy?

Seal the deal

If you’re confident with the car’s condition and enjoy driving it, then it’s finally time to make that much-awaited purchase.

Try to negotiate to reduce the price further. Sellers are usually receptive to the idea, especially when dealing with a serious buyer.

“When people advertise their cars for selling, this is usually factored in with an inflated price,” Nasrullah observes.

“Many people like to shop around without purchasing, so when you are ready to purchase, flash the cash! When a buyer sees a deposit ready to be handed over, they are generally more open to haggling.”

Ready to hand over the money and drive off with your new ride? Not so fast.

The next step is to facilitate the transfer of the vehicle to the name of the new owner. To do this, the buyer will need to present the new insurance and test certificates along with a valid driver’s licence, Emirates ID and the car registration card to the vehicle licensing department offices.

After registering the car under the new owner, only then can the money change hands from the buyer to the seller.

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But what about after making a purchase? If you change your mind, can you return the vehicle to the owner?

“With a private sale, it is not possible to return a car and therefore it is advisable to perform all background checks beforehand,” stresses Nasrullah.

“Although there are no set rules, an independent used car showroom must accept a return if, for example, you can prove there was a mileage discrepancy which the seller was aware of but did not disclose. This can be a tedious and time-consuming process if it goes to the courts.”

Nasrullah advises buyers not to part ways with their cash until the car’s ownership has been legally transferred.

“Always look out for any car finance details on the registration card. It is also always worth getting a copy of the seller’s ID to keep on file,” Naz says in closing.

Useful contacts:

These resources will be helpful when purchasing a secondhand vehicle in the UAE.

WORDS Ferdinand Godinez

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