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Finding a used car that ticks all the right boxes is no easy task. So once you finally zero in on what you think is your perfect pre-loved ride, it is natural to feel tempted to rush through the buying process and get behind the wheel at the earliest. But a car, much like a house, is one of the major purchases you would make in life, and taking a decision in haste without due diligence is the last thing you would want to do with such a purchase.

The most foolproof way to ensure long-term peace of mind and a hassle-free ownership experience with a used car is choosing an independent third party facility to conduct a professional inspection before purchase. The relatively insignificant additional cost of a professional inspection will go a long way in making sure that there won’t be any nasty and expensive surprises after you buy the car.

More than meets the eye

Accident damage and repainting are hard to see for the untrained eye. A visual inspection is not enough to assess a used car’s current condition. Hidden accident damage, incomplete repairs, use of counterfeit parts, engine and gearbox leaks, suspension and chassis damage all demand close inspection by an experienced mechanic with access to sophisticated diagnostic equipment that can read a car’s ECU data. A comprehensive inspection by a professional facility will help a buyer avoid inadvertently ending up with a total loss/write-off imported unscrupulously from other markets.

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“Cars can look perfect on the surface, but it’s the hidden faults that can hurt the most. Engine, gearbox and air conditioning faults can run into thousands of dirhams,” says Matthew Davidson, head of vehicle inspections at Axle Inspect, a leading vehicle inspection service in the UAE. “Accident and chassis damage can massively reduce the value when you come to sell the car in the future,” he adds.

Professional inspection services benefit from the expertise of an expert team of vehicle evaluators, assisted by some of the most advanced vehicle analysis hardware and software.

Comprehensive test, detailed report

Once you have zeroed in on the car you want to buy, the next most important step before you seal the deal is to get in touch with an inspection service. Services like Axle Inspect will call you back and an inspection will be arranged either the same day or latest, the next day. You can either take your car to one of their inspection locations in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, or Ajman, or get their mobile team come to your location with all the equipment to inspect the car and even lift it for underbody checks. The software used by Axle has more than 1,800 fault codes built in so that no electrical or mechanical fault goes undetected.

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During the inspection, the experts take detailed assessments of hundreds of vehicle instruments, and combine them into a score which your report is built around. The report covers over 400 points, and the score rates the car from Excellent to Very Poor, based on its condition. “The Axle report is easy to understand with clear photos. The report is digital and sent immediately to your phone as soon as the report is complete. You can even request quotes to fix faults with the inspected car,” Davidson points out. “By not inspecting a car, you are shifting the power to the seller. When you have an inspection report in hand then you are in control,” he adds.

Minimal cost for peace of mind

For inspecting standard cars, Axle charges Dh499 plus VAT, while getting luxury, performance, and supercars would cost Dh999 plus VAT. These are relatively insignificant costs for a service that gives you an assurance of long-term peace of mind an investment towards making sure you don’t get stuck with a deceptively packaged old banger.

If you are planning to purchase a preowned car, make sure you do not end up with one that has hidden faults that could cost you thousands of dirhams in repairs and maintenance in the future. A few hundred dirhams spent at a professional inspection service such as Axle will help you avoid frustration and heavy repair costs.

This content comes from Reach by Gulf News, which is the branded content team of GN Media.