The risk of damaged cars

Ban on import and resale of written-off cars is critical for the overall safety of our roads

Many vehicles that were written off overseas have been resold in the UAE last year by unscrupulous dealers after conducting cheap repairs. Nicole Hill / The National
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The clampdown on the trade in damaged vehicles is an important step towards making our roads safer. As The National reported yesterday, a rule announced by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology will come into force in May, effectively banning the import, registration and insurance of vehicles that have been written off in other countries, along with the launch of detection software to share information on chassis history with regulators.

This comes after The National's investigation last year revealed that many vehicles that were written off overseas have been resold in the UAE by unscrupulous dealers after conducting cheap repairs. Cars are bought from salvage yards in the United States, for example, after being involved in a heavy crash or suffering fire or flood damage and are sold in the UAE with a written-off code that is only recognised in the car's country of origin.

The problem is that buyers are usually not aware of how dangerous these cars can be and how costly they can prove to be later in the car’s life. Even though these cars are usually badly repaired and unsafe, dealers make false or misleading claims about their history and fail to identify that they have been damaged or were registered as statutory write-offs. In the case of water damage from natural disasters, cars that were uninsured at the time of the event may not necessarily be recorded on the written-off register even in their home country.

Restricting the import and resale of these damaged goods is a major step towards protecting owners and overall road safety. But consumers are still responsible for doing their due diligence when buying a second-hand car. There are ways to ensure the safety of the vehicle, including the vehicle identification number (Vin) system, which allows buyers to look into a vehicle’s history, and online companies that offer official history reports for vehicles for a small fee. The Abu Dhabi Police also offer an online service to check whether locally registered vehicles have been written-off or were damaged in accidents. While the impending rule change will bring greater security to buyers, it always pays to do your own research.