How To Save Yourself From Buying a Flood Damaged Car in Dubai

How To Save Yourself From Buying a Flood Damaged Car in Dubai

UAE has one of the largest used car markets in the world. 

Every year, thousands of used cars are up for sale in the local market. There is a huge demand for used cars in the UAE, especially in Dubai. Royals, Expats or Locals, this used car market caters to diverse tastes and budgets. 

Witnessing the variety of used cars available for sale, you’ll be tempted to buy one. And chances are, you’ll find a good-conditioned used car within your budget. 

But the scenario is a little different this time. 

The recent floods in UAE has caused tremendous damage. The unprecedented water levels not only destroyed properties but it significantly damaged thousands of cars. Cars safely parked in low-lying areas & basements were the most affected. Even the ones parked in showrooms & dealerships weren’t spared. 

Fixing a flood-damaged car will be expensive for anyone. After the repair, the car would not be the same as before. New issues will surface regularly, prompting you to get rid of it soon by putting it up for sale. However, most flood-damaged car owners would like to sell their cars and buy a new one – Best option if you’re living in Dubai right now & your car is damaged by recent flooding. 

As expected, thousands of flood-damaged cars would hit the used car market, as predicted by the experts. Abhinav Gupta, CEO of the Gulf region at Cars24, has warned buyers about the huge influx of rain-damaged cars that may hit the pre-owned market. 

“Lately, a lot of our buyers have come back, either wanting their cars serviced or looking for new cars. We spoke to many partners also who indicate the same figures,” said Abhinav Gupta, CEO for the Gulf region at Cars24.

Flood damage can compromise a car’s safety, performance, and resale value. If you’re looking to buy a used car after the recent floods, make sure you avoid buying a flood-damaged car. 

Spotting a flood-damaged car is quick & easy. 

In this blog, I’ll help you identify flood-damaged cars that might be available for sale in the used car market in Dubai.

Exterior Inspection

Your first step is to carefully inspect the exterior of the car to spot any inconsistencies in paint color or texture.

Any car dealer would try his best to conceal the flood damage by quick touch-up work. However, detecting these touch-ups requires sufficient lighting. So observe your car under enough lighting to identify any paint related flood-damage issues. 

Look for any marks, water lines & stains. 

Gently scratch the exterior for signs of damage, mismatched or fading color. You can also touch the exterior using paper towels. Paper towels can absorb the hidden moisture and wetness, enough to detect any underlying flood damage issues below the surface.  

Adam Whitnall, CEO of Drive Ninja, highlights the importance of thoroughly inspecting the underside of a vehicle for signs of rust, particularly around suspension parts and wheels. He emphasizes that rust in unexpected areas could indicate previous water exposure.

Check the door frames, windows, trunk, hood, undercarriage, wheel wells, and suspension components for any rust, water stains and residue. The prolonged exposure to wetness and moisture may quickly create rusty spots and even corrode the metal. 

Interior Inspection

Step inside the car to inspect the interior. 

Carefully observe each cabin, seats and the upholstery. 

Spot any discolouration, moisture, or dampness on the upholstery, carpets, and floor mats. Touch the fabric with hands or paper towels. Locate any color differences or stains on the paper towels. 

The interior of the car may appear dry but the underlying moisture and wetness indicates water damage. 

Also check the windows, seats, steering, lights, windows, locks, and the entertainment system.

Mechanical Assessment

Buyers can save themselves from buying a flood damaged car if they carefully observe the engine compartment. 

A car’s interior may be clean and shining and even concealed to trick you into buying the car. But its engine & other components can reveal clues about the car’s exposure to water.

Open the hood and carefully observe the engine compartment. Locate any mud, debris and water residue if any. 

Pay close attention to every component. Look for unusual noises, vibrations, & smell. Take a test drive to assess its performance & to discover more underlying mechanical issues stemming from flood damage.

Finally, use a dipstick to inspect the engine oil and transmission fluid for signs of contamination. If the oil is fresh and clean, then no issues. However, milky or frothy fluid indicates water mixing. 

Electrical Assessment

A car’s electrical system is highly sensitive to water exposure. 

If water enters the car, it can quickly damage the electrical system. This damage won’t be immediately visible to you. You’ve to carefully observe every accessory, electric & electronic component to locate any fault in the electrical system. 

Don’t be in a hurry to close the deal. Spend some time inside the car. Turn the ignition key and one by one check all the accessories, dashboard, warning lights, gauges, windshield, turn signals, radio, heater, air conditioner, lights, windows, locks, entertainment system, and other components to make sure they work properly.

Test all the electrical components a couple of times to make sure the electrical system is free from any malfunctions or inconsistency. 

Odor Test

Don’t rush into buying a car just because it looks good; sometimes rely on your instincts to make a decision. 

Additionally, use your sense of smell wisely to detect flood-damaged cars.

But How? 

Get inside the car and close all the windows. Wait for a few minutes and try to identify the odor. A musty or moldy odor develops after water exposure. This type of odor can be concealed with air fresheners. A strong air freshener can be used to mask the scent of mold and mildew. Therefore, thoroughly smell each cabin, upholstery, trunk, windows, above & under the seats to identify any unusual odor. 

“One of the easiest ways to spot it is the smell,” says Glenn Power, co-founder of Dubai-based repair garage PowerWorks. There’ll often be a telltale damp and musky smell if there’s been water damage.”

Before selling a car, dealers often resort to cleaning the cars and using strong air fresheners to mask any unpleasant smells coming from water damage.

Documentation and Verification

After carefully examining the car and test driving it for a performance check, it’s time for the most critical step before you close the deal. Never buy a used car without checking its history report. The following are trusted sources in UAE to obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report:

  1. Official website of Emirates Vehicle Gate (EVG)

Vehicle history report will reveal the vehicle’s past incidents of flood damage, salvage titles, or insurance claims. You’ll need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to obtain the correct vehicle history report. 

Expert Assistance

When buying a used car in the UAE after the recent floods, hire a qualified mechanic or technician to perform a thorough inspection of the car. 

Experts can quickly detect hidden issues that may not be visible to you or any other person. The cost of hiring an expert will always be less than the cost of repairing a flood-damaged car. 

One reddit user shared his pain after he mistakenly purchased a flood-damaged car in the UAE. After going through the hassle and paying huge amount, he took reddit to look for the answer to his problem

“Do you know a good place to thoroughly inspect the car? I was new to the UAE and bought a flooded car. I’ve had issues with it after 6000 km; I had to replace the engine, costing me 14,000 AED. The car had engine jerks before the engine replacement and still does. The gear shifting doesn’t seem smooth (it’s a 2021 Mercedes A-Class with an automatic transmission). How can I fix this?”

If you don’t wanna deal with the flood-damaged car related pain, then don’t buy any used car without seeking expert assistance. 

Wrap Up - How To Spot Flood Damaged Cars in Dubai Market

Despite the recent devastating floods, normalcy is returning to Dubai. Every business is thriving as usual. But the used car market may witness an unexpected boom. The main reason behind this boom is obviously the flood-damaged cars. Experts have already cautioned buyers about the sudden influx of flood-damaged cars in the used car market. However, Adam Whitnall, CEO of Drive Ninja says “While the prospect of flood-damaged cars entering the market is concerning, I believe it won’t become a widespread issue. He reassures buyers that with diligent inspection and precautionary measures, they can minimize the risk of purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle in Dubai’s used car market.” We agree with Mr. Whitnall here and if anyone is buying a used car after the recent floods, then he should follow these steps that’ll help him spot a flood-damaged car. Steps like exterior inspection, interior inspection, mechanical assessment, electrical assessment, odor test, document & verification, expert assistance etc will save you from buying a flood-damaged car in Dubai. 

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