Warning to UAE motorists over vehicle mileage fraud

Experts say drivers need to get wise to odometer hacks that misrepresent amount of wear and tear on a car

Dubai, 23rd May 2009.  The Volkswagen Tiguan R model dashboard dials, at the Dubai Autodrome.  (Jeffrey E Biteng / The National) *** Local Caption ***  JB06-Tiguan.jpgJB06-Tiguan.jpg
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Motorists have been warned about rogue traders tampering with vehicle mileage to push up sale prices.

A UAE car service centre has shown how easy it can be to dial back an odometer, prompting experts to raise the alarm with would-be customers looking for a bargain.

A popular social media video from Berlin Auto Service Centre in Al Ain shows how the meter reading of a Mercedes was cut from 114,000 kilometres to 38,000km.

Check RTA records to see if the car has suddenly lost miles between registrations, in particular if the mileage is low compared to the wear and tear of the car
Christopher Milbourne, Dubizzle

In a recent incident, a buyer from Abu Dhabi found out that the Dh115,000 four-wheel drive she acquired second hand had done 300,000km, not the 65,000km advertised.

She took legal action against the seller, and a court ruled that the contract could be torn up and a full refund rewarded.

It was a victory for consumer rights, but a legal expert says buyers need to act fast to ensure justice is done.

“The UAE’s Civil Transactions Law protects the customers from cheating,” Mohammed Najeeb told The National.

“If the car buyer discovered a hidden flaw in the car like odometer rollback, then he has the right to file a case within six months of purchase.

“Car buyers have the right to cancel the contract and get a refund.

“Rollback is a type of cheating by the seller to cover flaws. The buyer should have a proof of odometer rollback presented to court, like a certificate from the car’s manufacturer.”

Article 555 of the law states that, if the buyer provides a guarantee of more than six months, the seller can still file a case.

Drivers urged to be vigilant

Ali Hassan, from second-hand car dealer Souq Al Haraj in Sharjah, said mileage greatly affects a vehicle's value and can help to indicate how long it will be roadworthy.

“As most cars have digital odometers, it can be rolled back by removing the vehicle’s circuit board to change the reading or using rollback equipment that hooks right into the electronics,” Mr Hassan said.

He advised buyers to conduct extensive checks, including service history, before agreeing to buy.

“There is a full check-up for the car at verified centres in the UAE. I always ask my clients to take the car for a test before buying it from my shop. Buying a car with hidden flaws means paying more than the vehicle is worth,” he said.

Dubizzle, the online classified ads website, advises prospective buyers to take steps to protect themselves from fraud.

“Check the Roads and Transport Authority records to see if the car has suddenly lost miles between registrations, in particular if the mileage is low compared to the wear and tear of the car, like the interior and steering wheel,” said Christopher Milbourne of Dubizzle.

“To avoid fraudulent behaviour, we recommend always opting for a pre-inspection report.

“At the Dubizzle cars hub in Al Quoz, we offer a highly detailed inspection service by our experts which provides you with a full report highlighting issues for complete transparency and peace of mind.”

Tips to avoid being caught out

  • Buy a used car from a reliable source;
  • Have the car independently inspected by an accredited garage;
  • Ask for a detailed service history as the odometer readings will be registered at the service time;
  • Check brake and gas pedals for wear and tear, as excessive wear on the pedals is an indication the mileage may be greater than displayed.

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