How to Conduct Due Diligence Before a Used Car Purchase in the UAE


How to Conduct Due Diligence Before a Used Car Purchase in the UAE

Buying a used car is a cost-efficient option if you need a vehicle for your daily commute in the UAE. New cars depreciate rapidly, losing value the mo

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Buying a used car is a cost-efficient option if you need a vehicle for your daily commute in the UAE. New cars depreciate rapidly, losing value the moment they leave the showroom. In light of this, a pre-owned vehicle can offer more value for money, already having taken the biggest depreciation hit.

Buying a used car in the UAE can be a particularly good deal because of the variety of choices available in the country’s used-car market. From luxury sedans to practical SUVs, the range caters to diverse preferences and budgets. You’re more likely to find a pre-owned vehicle that fits what you need and want without breaking the bank.

However, the purchase of a pre-owned vehicle requires due diligence to ensure you’re making a wise investment. Read on for tips on how to do this.

1.    Confirm the Car Specifications

Ensuring that used car specifications match what’s advertised is vital. Misrepresentation, whether intentional or not, can lead to a loss. Confirming the specs guarantees you will get exactly what you pay for.

How do you do this? You need to perform a vehicle identification number or VIN check. The VIN provides a wealth of information about the car, including where it was made and its manufacturer, make, model, trim level, and specifications. Once you have the VIN, you can use it to confirm that the advertised specifications, like engine size, horsepower, and fuel type, correspond to the specifications indicated by the VIN.

Getting to Know the VIN

The VIN is a 17-character code comprising alphanumeric characters (numbers and capital letters) that is unique to every vehicle. It is assigned by the manufacturer during production.

To prevent confusion, the VIN cannot contain the capital letters I, O, and Q, as these letters can be mistaken for the numerals 0 and 1.

The VIN is not a random string of capital letters and numbers. The first character indicates the country of manufacture. The third character denotes the vehicle class – is it a car, truck, or bus? The tenth character is the model year code.

Note that the model year is not identical to the production year. The model year is the year when the manufacturer launched the car, not the year the vehicle was made. As such, a car’s model year code may correspond to the year after the production year. Additionally, the model year code in VIN cannot contain the numeral 0 and the letters U and Z.

You can see a car’s VIN on its registration card. However, you should also check the VIN stamped on the actual unit. You may find the VIN in any of the following places:

  • The lower-left corner of the driver’s dashboard, in front of the steering wheel, visible through the driver’s side windshield
  • The front of the engine block, which you may access by opening the hood
  • By the windshield washer fluid container, in front of the car frame
  • Above the tire in the rear wheel well
  • Inside the doorjamb on the driver’s side, accessible when the driver’s door is open, where the side-view mirror would be if the door were closed
  • On the doorpost, driver-side, close to where the door latches and near the seatbelt return
  • Under the spare tire

2.    Check the Car History

A car’s past can reveal accidents, ownership changes, and maintenance records. These can impact its value and safety.

Start with the service history. A well-maintained car should have a detailed service record, either with an authorized dealer or a reputable service center. This record should include regular maintenance, part replacements, and any repairs. Consistent service history indicates a well-cared-for vehicle, reducing the risk of future breakdowns.

Investigate the car’s accident history. In the UAE, you can use online platforms that provide detailed reports based on the car’s VIN. These reports reveal any major accidents or damage the vehicle has suffered.

Consider the number of previous owners. Multiple ownership changes in a short period could indicate problems with the car. A single or few long-term owners usually suggest a more stable and reliable history.

Lastly, check for any outstanding financial or legal issues. Verify that the car is free from any financial obligations or legal disputes.

3.    Compare the Asking Price With Its Valuation

If buying land, vintage designer bags, or jewelry, you would compare the asking price to the market price. You must do the same when purchasing a used vehicle.

Is the car worth what the seller or dealer is asking for? Generally speaking, if the asking price matches the used car’s market valuation, that car is worth the price you will pay.

How do you approximate a car’s market valuation? Armed with the information you gathered from steps one and two, calculate how much the car should sell for (i.e., its market valuation) and contrast that figure with the selling price (i.e., the seller’s or dealer’s asking price).

You can then judge if the selling price is justified. Should you proceed with the purchase if the selling price is greater than the market valuation? Your best course of action is to negotiate the selling price down until it’s aligned with the market valuation.

4.    Get a Vehicle Report

You need to know about cars to perform an accurate market valuation. If you don’t have the requisite expertise, you can get a professional appraiser to do the market valuation for you.

However, there’s a much easier (and more affordable) way. Obtain a vehicle report from a trustworthy used-car reports provider that collects and collates vehicular data from various sources and aggregates them (according to VIN) into a unified database.

You’ll just need the VIN of the car you want to buy to generate a document that provides complete and comprehensive information on the vehicle. Included in such a report would be exact car specifications. You can check that against the car listing. You will also get the car’s detailed history, including any accidents it might have been in and whether it was written off as a total loss at that time.

The report would also give you a summary of the car’s condition, scoring the following components individually:

  • Bodywork
  • Under the bonnet
  • Car interior and controls
  • Under chassis
  • Wheels and tires
  • Roadworthiness

Most importantly, that vehicle report would give you a market valuation, which you can use to negotiate a lower price.

Buy a Used Car Smartly

Buying a used car in the UAE is an excellent way to circumvent the significant depreciation that occurs when a brand-new vehicle is driven off the showroom. In the UAE, purchasing a pre-owned car can mean excellent value for money because of the many options available.


Before you buy a used car, however, make sure to conduct due diligence. Check the car’s specific details, history, and valuation to ensure you’re getting the car as advertised and at the correct price. A great time saver would be to generate a vehicle report using your target vehicle’s VIN.