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Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Old May 3rd 2015, 11:08 am
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Default Cars in the UAE? The dark side

For many British expats, one of the selling points of moving to the UAE is the opportunity to buy that car they always wanted but could never quite afford back home. Suddenly it seems that the cars that were out of our budget back home are being sold second hand at giveaway prices! It's not uncommon to see new Brits driving around in second hand VW Passats, mini coopers, GTI's, convertible Peugeots, Volvos, etc. It doesn't make sense?! Why are they so cheap and why is no one buying them? Do people just prefer paying 3x more for a white, boring old Toyota of the same age, less luxuries and a smaller engine?

Well it seems there is good reason as to why it's mainly expats driving around in these vehicles and why the locals steer well clear of these deceptive bargains. If you've lived here a while you've probably heard of the infamous Sharjah industrial area. For car enthusiasts, this place is heaven. Being the second largest exporter of second hand car parts in the world; supplying most of the African countries with spares, Sharjah industrial area is an Aladin's cave for the automotive folk.

However for the average unsuspecting expat, the inner workings of the Sharjah industrial area are not friend, but foe. The fact is, that if you're looking at a car which does not have a legitimate service history, and I mean one that you've actually laid eyes upon, then it is almost definitely not what it appears to be. It costs 100aed flat rate to change the kilometres on almost any vehicle in Sharjah, and clocking is a normal procedure for much of the population here. It's common practice that once you've owned your vehicle for a few years and reached 200-300k on the clock, you pop down to sharjah and get it set back to 120k. Surely that's not dishonest? Otherwise how would I get what my vehicle is really worth? Right..

If the car is Japanese, this isn't really an issue for the unsuspecting buyer and most people are none the wiser whether it's done 100 or 300 thousand kilometers. However if you're buying a European car, this makes a huge difference. Why? Well for one it's not 50 degrees for half the year in Europe; not to mention that Europe has clouds. Euro cars like clouds, they were designed under clouds and are built under clouds. This huge weather contrast is the fundamental reason behind why the cars we drive in Britain are so cheap out here. The Arabs realised this decades ago. You don't see bedwins driving around in land-rovers! It's all landcruisers and patrols for them and that's the way it's been for many years and how it will continue to be until the Chinese start taking over the automotive industry in 20 years.

Sharjah is used for other things too. As a working expat in the UAE you are unlikely to have resources or the time to fix your own vehicle when it goes wrong. So you've got two options- 1. Take it to the dealership and pay the high premium for reliable, customer friendly service or 2. Take it to a cheaper garage recommended by your colleague.

These options are both daylight robbery:

- Dealerships employ trained engineers, not guys who fix stuff. If you've lived here for any amount of time you're probably aware that worker autonomy is yet to be discovered or encouraged. If something doesn't work on your car or there is any question at all about its condition then the whole system and it's surrounding components HAVE to be replaced. You may have just wanted new brake pads, but according the the dealer you require a brake system flush and new master cylinder. Which you have to wait 3 weeks for as they have to be shipped. And you have to pay 20k.

Then there is all the stuff that dealerships don't do.. Almost all manufacturers here claim their cars transmissions are 'sealed for life'. Well that's strange since in all the other developed countries dealers advise a transmission oil change every 80,000km. The fact is, dealers decided that it's not worth the headache of doing long term maintenence jobs when laws don't require such fiduciary duties. Also, since customers only own their cars for an average of 3 years in the UAE, the first owner won't face the consequences of this lack of maintenance anyway. It will be the unsuspecting expat who buys the car 5 years down the line and then has to replace the transmission.

- 3rd Party Garages in Dubai make an absolute mint. Little known to the average Joe, 90% of Dubai based car garages are simply agents when it comes to any job of real difficulty. The dealer quoted 14k for a Head gasket replacement and Super Star Garage in Al Quoz is quoting just 7k! Sounds like a good deal ey? Well no, it's not. Super star garage simply tells you they will call when the car is done. After it has sat there for 2 weeks with the windows open, in which time the annual thunder/sandstorm hit Dubai, you call to ask how much longer it will take. Jeff answers the phone, and was funnily enough about to call you. He asks you if you knew the cars previous owner and then sighs and says the previous owner never changed the oil it's not looking good. He's been searching for a Head gasket all week and luckily he came across the last ones in the UAE this morning. He then tells you it should be ready in couple of days and he sends it off to Al Abood & Sons Auto Maintenence, A/C, Interior Upholstery & Bakery Co. Ltd. in Sharjah. Abood then nips down to the parts warehouse and grabs the head gasket for 70aed, fixes the car in 3 hours and charges Super Star Garage 1500aed. Jeff calls you up and tells you how the car is done BUT they had to replace the entire engine as it was siezed which cost 18,000aed. But then, because he is your new mate he drops the price to 10k because you both support the same football team. He then, as a mate, gives you a tip and advises you to sell it while it's working.

Two weeks later your car stops dead on the highway and you don't know what to do. Not this headache again! Wait, why not call Jeff from Super Star garage- he was a great guy and sure knew his stuff. Jeff tells you to bring it over and says he'll give you a free checkup. After checking the car it seems part of the wiring harness melted against the exhaust manifold which was due to misplacement after its previous repair. He calls you and tells you the terrible news, not mentioning his fault. He tells of how the car probably needs a whole new electrical system which will cost another 14k. You call the dealer for a quote but they tell you to make a booking at which the earliest date is 3 weeks from now in the downtown service centre which is only open during rush hour 3 days a week. Just as everything seems hopeless Jeff comes in with an offer. He thinks you're a great guy and knows you're really busy and so he wants to help you out. He offers you 5k cash personally, to take the car of your hands. He says he knows he really shouldn't as it's going to cost him but he wants to do you the favor because he's just a nice guy. You are reluctant but after mentioning it to your wife you are instantly encouraged to take the offer from poor kind Jeff. So you sell the car to Jeff for 5k. Jeff then cuts and adds on a couple of new wires, changes a fuse and sells the car for 20k.
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Old May 3rd 2015, 3:54 pm
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Originally Posted by cba View Post
For many British expats, one of the selling points of moving to the UAE is the opportunity to buy that car they always wanted but could never quite afford back home. Suddenly it seems that the cars that were out of our budget back home are being sold second hand at giveaway prices! It's not uncommon to see new Brits driving around in second hand VW Passats, mini coopers, GTI's, convertible Peugeots, Volvos, etc. It doesn't make sense?! Why are they so cheap and why is no one buying them? Do people just prefer paying 3x more for a white, boring old Toyota of the same age, less luxuries and a smaller engine?

Well it seems there is good reason as to why it's mainly expats driving around in these vehicles and why the locals steer well clear of these deceptive bargains. If you've lived here a while you've probably heard of the infamous Sharjah industrial area. For car enthusiasts, this place is heaven. Being the second largest exporter of second hand car parts in the world; supplying most of the African countries with spares, Sharjah industrial area is an Aladin's cave for the automotive folk.

However for the average unsuspecting expat, the inner workings of the Sharjah industrial area are not friend, but foe. The fact is, that if you're looking at a car which does not have a legitimate service history, and I mean one that you've actually laid eyes upon, then it is almost definitely not what it appears to be. It costs 100aed flat rate to change the kilometres on almost any vehicle in Sharjah, and clocking is a normal procedure for much of the population here. It's common practice that once you've owned your vehicle for a few years and reached 200-300k on the clock, you pop down to sharjah and get it set back to 120k. Surely that's not dishonest? Otherwise how would I get what my vehicle is really worth? Right..

If the car is Japanese, this isn't really an issue for the unsuspecting buyer and most people are none the wiser whether it's done 100 or 300 thousand kilometers. However if you're buying a European car, this makes a huge difference. Why? Well for one it's not 50 degrees for half the year in Europe; not to mention that Europe has clouds. Euro cars like clouds, they were designed under clouds and are built under clouds. This huge weather contrast is the fundamental reason behind why the cars we drive in Britain are so cheap out here. The Arabs realised this decades ago. You don't see bedwins driving around in land-rovers! It's all landcruisers and patrols for them and that's the way it's been for many years and how it will continue to be until the Chinese start taking over the automotive industry in 20 years.

Sharjah is used for other things too. As a working expat in the UAE you are unlikely to have resources or the time to fix your own vehicle when it goes wrong. So you've got two options- 1. Take it to the dealership and pay the high premium for reliable, customer friendly service or 2. Take it to a cheaper garage recommended by your colleague.

These options are both daylight robbery:

- Dealerships employ trained engineers, not guys who fix stuff. If you've lived here for any amount of time you're probably aware that worker autonomy is yet to be discovered or encouraged. If something doesn't work on your car or there is any question at all about its condition then the whole system and it's surrounding components HAVE to be replaced. You may have just wanted new brake pads, but according the the dealer you require a brake system flush and new master cylinder. Which you have to wait 3 weeks for as they have to be shipped. And you have to pay 20k.

Then there is all the stuff that dealerships don't do.. Almost all manufacturers here claim their cars transmissions are 'sealed for life'. Well that's strange since in all the other developed countries dealers advise a transmission oil change every 80,000km. The fact is, dealers decided that it's not worth the headache of doing long term maintenence jobs when laws don't require such fiduciary duties. Also, since customers only own their cars for an average of 3 years in the UAE, the first owner won't face the consequences of this lack of maintenance anyway. It will be the unsuspecting expat who buys the car 5 years down the line and then has to replace the transmission.

- 3rd Party Garages in Dubai make an absolute mint. Little known to the average Joe, 90% of Dubai based car garages are simply agents when it comes to any job of real difficulty. The dealer quoted 14k for a Head gasket replacement and Super Star Garage in Al Quoz is quoting just 7k! Sounds like a good deal ey? Well no, it's not. Super star garage simply tells you they will call when the car is done. After it has sat there for 2 weeks with the windows open, in which time the annual thunder/sandstorm hit Dubai, you call to ask how much longer it will take. Jeff answers the phone, and was funnily enough about to call you. He asks you if you knew the cars previous owner and then sighs and says the previous owner never changed the oil it's not looking good. He's been searching for a Head gasket all week and luckily he came across the last ones in the UAE this morning. He then tells you it should be ready in couple of days and he sends it off to Al Abood & Sons Auto Maintenence, A/C, Interior Upholstery & Bakery Co. Ltd. in Sharjah. Abood then nips down to the parts warehouse and grabs the head gasket for 70aed, fixes the car in 3 hours and charges Super Star Garage 1500aed. Jeff calls you up and tells you how the car is done BUT they had to replace the entire engine as it was siezed which cost 18,000aed. But then, because he is your new mate he drops the price to 10k because you both support the same football team. He then, as a mate, gives you a tip and advises you to sell it while it's working.

Two weeks later your car stops dead on the highway and you don't know what to do. Not this headache again! Wait, why not call Jeff from Super Star garage- he was a great guy and sure knew his stuff. Jeff tells you to bring it over and says he'll give you a free checkup. After checking the car it seems part of the wiring harness melted against the exhaust manifold which was due to misplacement after its previous repair. He calls you and tells you the terrible news, not mentioning his fault. He tells of how the car probably needs a whole new electrical system which will cost another 14k. You call the dealer for a quote but they tell you to make a booking at which the earliest date is 3 weeks from now in the downtown service centre which is only open during rush hour 3 days a week. Just as everything seems hopeless Jeff comes in with an offer. He thinks you're a great guy and knows you're really busy and so he wants to help you out. He offers you 5k cash personally, to take the car of your hands. He says he knows he really shouldn't as it's going to cost him but he wants to do you the favor because he's just a nice guy. You are reluctant but after mentioning it to your wife you are instantly encouraged to take the offer from poor kind Jeff. So you sell the car to Jeff for 5k. Jeff then cuts and adds on a couple of new wires, changes a fuse and sells the car for 20k.
Sharjah is mostly bad news for sure, but there are exceptions. Most of the legitimate car parts come from there as well. The problem is that unless you are in the industry yourself you really have no way of knowing who is a crook and who isn't (and most of the time the crooks also sell the original parts).

Not all garages in Dubai are like you describe either, but if you haven't met any trustworthy people in the car industry here I'm actually not terribly surprised. Personally I know a few good eggs that I trust...

I know the Jeff-style scenario happens, but honestly you are just as likely to be shafted by the dealers. I have heard horror stories (from above mentioned good eggs) of what they have personally seen happening in big name dealers who shall not be mentioned.

If you are not a car literate person, a trained mechanic or have close personal friends who are then the best advice is to stay away from used cars in Dubai. I'm not saying everyone gets burnt, but a lot of people do.

I hate to ask but are you Jeff?
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Old May 3rd 2015, 4:28 pm
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Thumbs up Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Originally Posted by norsk View Post
Sharjah is mostly bad news for sure, but there are exceptions. Most of the legitimate car parts come from there as well. The problem is that unless you are in the industry yourself you really have no way of knowing who is a crook and who isn't (and most of the time the crooks also sell the original parts).

Not all garages in Dubai are like you describe either, but if you haven't met any trustworthy people in the car industry here I'm actually not terribly surprised. Personally I know a few good eggs that I trust...

I know the Jeff-style scenario happens, but honestly you are just as likely to be shafted by the dealers. I have heard horror stories (from above mentioned good eggs) of what they have personally seen happening in big name dealers who shall not be mentioned.

If you are not a car literate person, a trained mechanic or have close personal friends who are then the best advice is to stay away from used cars in Dubai. I'm not saying everyone gets burnt, but a lot of people do.

I hate to ask but are you Jeff?
Totally agree with you. This is but an arguably fictitious exaggeration of situations unlikely, but not at all unheard of.

I would like to know these good eggs you speak of.

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Old May 4th 2015, 8:42 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

All doom and gloom

So I should avoid picking up an used Pajero? Even a three year old one?

Originally Posted by norsk View Post

If you are not a car literate person, a trained mechanic or have close personal friends who are then the best advice is to stay away from used cars in Dubai. I'm not saying everyone gets burnt, but a lot of people do.

I hate to ask but are you Jeff?
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Old May 4th 2015, 9:41 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Originally Posted by DXBtoDOH View Post
All doom and gloom

So I should avoid picking up an used Pajero? Even a three year old one?
No not at all! Pajero's are brilliant cars, easy to maintain; with few problems & great re-sale value. You will save a load on buying a 3 year old one, go for it if you like them! Generally, buying a used Japanese car is pretty safe bet. A Mitsubishi Pajero is Japanese.

Last edited by cba; May 4th 2015 at 9:43 am.
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Old May 4th 2015, 9:44 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Originally Posted by DXBtoDOH View Post
All doom and gloom

So I should avoid picking up an used Pajero? Even a three year old one?
It's all about your appetite for risk. I've bought a few used cars in Saudi (yes really and the car was even owned by a local) and Dubai and not had a Jeff happen yet, but that doesn't mean it couldn't.

I wouldn't worry too much about buying used from a either dealer or a showroom of reasonable repute. Al Awir is not usually considered to contain showrooms of repute by the way although with some notable exceptions. Al-Futtaim Automall for example is fine..
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Old May 4th 2015, 4:09 pm
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

selling your car in Dubai can be really stressful. I had the same experience. If anyone wants to sell their car for good cash instantly and wants a really simple procedure i know a guy, he checks the car, and gives you a free evaluation and then gives you the cash if you accept the offer.
his phone is 0561546195 and works for simplybuyanycar
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Old May 6th 2015, 4:02 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Originally Posted by Moe1987 View Post
selling your car in Dubai can be really stressful. I had the same experience. If anyone wants to sell their car for good cash instantly and wants a really simple procedure i know a guy, he checks the car, and gives you a free evaluation and then gives you the cash if you accept the offer.
his phone is 0561546195 and works for simplybuyanycar
Again. Back to my original post (it may have been on the other thread actually).

If your car is priced correctly your car will sell in a reasonable time. Dubizzle is a pain in the hole because of all the traders that constantly call asking for best price and/or offering ridiculous money (car listed at 100K and is actually worth 80K, but they offer 40K). The traders can give you a hint of what your car is actually worth if you pay attention. I reckon they usually offer 50-75% of forecourt value..

If you put ballpark right price from the start you will get some real punters calling as well so don't despair. Obviously it helps if your car is desirable by a group of people - hence why people buy Fortuner/Prado despite them being dull and shit (sorry guys).

Ah...simplybuyanycar and sellanycar. The final option for those who are either desperate to sell or can't handle the dubizzle stress. I get completely why these outfits exist and before selling my TT I actually had quotes done from both of them. Don't forget they are trying to make a profit though! In the end I sold my car privately for 50% more than either of them offered and no I didn't have any stress and it took me a whole 2 days (priced correctly see).

Last edited by norsk; May 6th 2015 at 4:05 am.
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Old May 6th 2015, 7:23 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

So, on the subject of pricing a car when selling it - is this website to be trusted to provide a realistic target sales price?

VehicleCheck new car and used car prices in UAE
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Old May 6th 2015, 7:45 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Took a quote from sellanycar just for banter, to see what they'd offer for my rare 91 Mercedes 500e hand built by Porsche. They offered 1,875aed.. Could sell a piece of the wooden trim for more on eBay to be honest. Would be interested to know if anyone else has had a similarly humorous offer.
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Old May 6th 2015, 7:49 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Originally Posted by archie159 View Post
So, on the subject of pricing a car when selling it - is this website to be trusted to provide a realistic target sales price?

VehicleCheck new car and used car prices in UAE
PM me your car, model, year & color etc and I'll give you an estimate of a realistic price to advertise it for.
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Old May 6th 2015, 7:54 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Originally Posted by cba View Post
PM me your car, model, year & color etc and I'll give you an estimate of a realistic price to advertise it for.
Thanks - but I'm not selling now! I was just curious whether this website was reasonably realistic about its valuations. It is the only one I have ever found here in the UAE (other than the ones run by buyanycar etc), but I don't have enough buying/selling experience to know whether its valuations are worth trusting. I have sold 2 cars previously, and bought 2 second hand, and every time I have struggled to work out whether the prices were realistic.
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Old May 6th 2015, 8:32 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Originally Posted by archie159 View Post
Thanks - but I'm not selling now! I was just curious whether this website was reasonably realistic about its valuations. It is the only one I have ever found here in the UAE (other than the ones run by buyanycar etc), but I don't have enough buying/selling experience to know whether its valuations are worth trusting. I have sold 2 cars previously, and bought 2 second hand, and every time I have struggled to work out whether the prices were realistic.
Not heard of them before, but just like the muppets who keep tabs on property rental prices they more than likely rely on advertised prices rather than the actual amount something sells for (or in the case of property rental rents for) so about as much worth as a kick in the ballsack..

Edit: They say in their FAQ that they have access to an independently maintained database. I gave it a shot with the TT I just sold and they are overshooting realism by quite a bit on the consumer price section. Actually the values they came up with reflect almost to a tee what you would get from insurance companies when getting a quotation. Read into that whatever you want..
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Old May 6th 2015, 12:57 pm
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

i know exactly where you guys are coming from. automobile industry in Dubai is a dirty business. But there are clean services who evaluate your car and buy it from you fast such as sellanycar,, but their prices are very low because they are selling to dealers who then sell it on.
I am a part time dealer and know many dealers who specialise in different cars. If you guys need to sell your car fast with no hassle, then give me a shout on 0561546195
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Old May 7th 2015, 5:51 am
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Default Re: Cars in the UAE? The dark side

Your best bet is to buy 'showroom new' - ie. been used for test drives, sat in the showroom for a few months, but still shiny and full warranty. I got 25k off my jeep, which basically knocked off the depreciation you normally get by driving a new car home and will make selling it for less a little less painful.

You have to phone round the dealers and get the right time of year, but it's worth it.
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