The air bag: Sensible car and sensible buying

The one thing in the writer's haste that he had neglected to do was verify what the seller was telling him about the car history before driving off in it.
The writer traded his ­Volkswagen Scirocco in for a new Volvo XC90. Michael Fein / Bloomberg
The writer traded his ­Volkswagen Scirocco in for a new Volvo XC90. Michael Fein / Bloomberg

I have gone and done it. I now own a “sensible” car, after more than a year swearing I would never be forced into such a corner by changes in my domestic life. But it had to be done, and my ­Volkswagen Scirocco, which put a smile on my face for five whole years, had to go.

In its place is a bright-red Volvo XC90 – a behemoth of a car that, for years, has enjoyed a reputation as the safest vehicle on the roads. As a father to a 9-month-old son, this fortress-like protection was one of the main reasons I decided on the big Swede. Since visiting Volvo’s factory and headquarters in ­Gothenburg last year, I have been unable to shake off the nagging suspicion that, in this region anyway, I would be daft to drive anything else. There was also the issue of practicality. The diminutive VW was becoming too much of a pain to get in and out of when putting ­Hackett Jr in his car seat. So I gave in and turned to ­Dubizzle.

Initially, I had been considering one of Volvo’s large saloon cars, such as the S70, having previously noticed that the XC90s within my meagre budget were a bit ropey. Ideally, I wanted sell the VW for the same money I had paid for its replacement, and when I eventually decided to scan the classifieds for the SUV, I discovered one that looked almost too good to be true.

The seller had only listed it that morning. The advert showed eight photographs of a pristine vehicle that, according to the text, had led a charmed existence: a one-owner XC90 with low kilometres, a full service history and that had never been crashed, damaged or in need of repair. For the price, it seemed like a huge amount of car for the money, and I gathered that the owner was keen to shift it quickly because he had relocated to Canada.

The following day, I viewed it, drove it and put down a 50 per cent deposit after making an offer that was reluctantly accepted. The day after that, it was mine, following its RTA inspection, and I drove it home, feeling like a stranger in a strange land.

The one thing, in my haste, that I had neglected to do was verify what the seller was telling me about its history. Yes, the stamped service record book was reassuring, as was its magnificent condition (the owner had had it detailed, and it looked almost new despite it being 8 years old) and a road test had revealed nothing untoward. But had I been sold a duffer? A retrospective vehicle status report would reveal all.

With some trepidation, I applied for the Car ­Report, which can be linked to within each listing on ­Dubizzle. It costs Dh99 and, yes, I should have done this before parting with my money. Thankfully, the report vindicated my decision. Car Report works with the insurance companies here to compile accurate data on almost any car up to 10 years of age. My Volvo, it turned out, had never been involved in an insurance claim.

According to the 15-page report, it’s worth twice what I paid for it (it’s a fancy R-Line model with less-than-­average distance covered). To say I was relieved is an understatement. Next time I will go through this process before parting with my money – as should you.

Published: September 5, 2016 04:00 AM


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