Product review: We test if CarReport, UAE’s version of CarFax, is worth the money (updated)
The UAE’s most popular classifieds website recently announced a partnership with a service called CarReport which will apparently tell users whether any car in the UAE has had an accident or not, using just the VIN number. We were ecstatic, thinking we finally got our own version of America’s amazing CarFax service. Update: We have added statements from Dubizzle and CarReport at the end of the article.
CarReport.com says they will tell you information about vehicle specifications, vehicle registration, number of major accidents, vehicle valuation, estimated mileage, mileage rollback, multiple owners, best finance rate, best insurance rate and length of ownership. It sounded promising, especially as they say they get their information from the RTA, insurance companies and dealers.
However, you have to pay Dhs 99 per report. It’s a bit expensive for an unproven service, but we gave it a go with our own money to test out the system. We separately entered the details of two cars that we know were in moderate accidents (several panels damaged and major suspension components broken, but no chassis damage) and are intimately familiar with. Both cars, a 2013 Toyota 86 and a 2013 Ford Focus ST, were repaired at their respective dealers with full insurance coverage. One had its accident maybe 2 years ago, while the other had it 6 months ago. Pretty easy cases to test for.
First off, their website asks you for the VIN (chassis number) and the mileage. Then it just pops up automatically that it is a “2013 Toyota 86” or a “2013 Ford Focus”. But it looks like that is the extent of the information they pull from the RTA. Their system then asks you to enter details such as what colour, engine, gearbox and options it has. It doesn’t know whether the 86 is an automatic or that the Focus is the ST model, so we had to enter them. We chose to not enter most of those details, such as colour and features, as they were not mandatory.
After that, they ask you to pay Dhs 99 with your credit card. Then a pdf report is generated. You can find a sample pdf report on their website.
The report gave both cars a clean bill of health, with zero accidents reported. There was also no information on previous owners or if the mileage is accurate. There is a disclaimer at the end, mentioning that all accidents may not be on record with them, so get your car checked by a mechanic anyway.
To check for mileage rollback, they just take an average of about 25,000 km per year, and if the car’s mileage (that you entered) is less than the average, it just says to go check for rollback yourself. By that measure, our 2013 Ford was red-flagged as a potential mileage-rollback car with only 30,000 km on the clock.
The vehicle evaluation tables of the report are more interesting, as it tells you how much the car is worth, depending on the condition of the car and whether you are buying from a dealer, trading it in or buying from an individual. The prices seemed to be slightly on the high side, of course not taking any accidents into account.
But there was another issue. Because of some error in their system, the Ford’s report left the model-year out, even though their system knew the year from the VIN itself. So the report provided no useful details other than general specs and that it had no accidents. It left all the car evaluation tables blank. However, in all fairness, they did send a corrected version of the report a couple of hours later, with the model-year and corrected evaluation tables only.
The finance and insurance sections were standard fare, with options for insurance quotes and a loan calculator.
So basically, you’re still better off taking a used car to a proper mechanic instead of paying to get it checked on the internet. We took the hit for this story, but we will give them the benefit of the doubt that our 2 specific cars were not covered on their system. There is a cancellation policy link at the bottom of their website in case you believe the report is inaccurate, and it seems you have to go through their contact form, where we will apply for a refund and update this story accordingly, but in the meantime, let us know if you got positive results. While CarReport.com is not perfect now, we truly hope that they improve in the next few years and become a proper service that will be as indispensable as the US-only CarFax.
Update: We were contacted by representatives of Dubizzle and CarReport after this article was published. They also sent us corrected reports for the two cars, each one now showing one accident. They also told us the dates of the accidents via email, although this information is not shared on the actual reports, nor any other details of the type of accident. However, there is a provision in the report to tell you if there is chassis damage (our cars had none). We were also refunded our money in a week or so. The CarReport website has also been slightly altered to more clearly reflect their offerings.
Jean Pierre Mondalek, General Manager of Motors at Dubizzle said, “There is a lack of official records on second-hand cars in the UAE, which our partnership with CarReport, the first of its kind in the region, aims to tackle by providing facts and useful information to buyers. As the second hand car market in the UAE continues to evolve, CarReport and dubizzle will work together to provide users with a truly unique service to bridge this gap – this is the first step of many that we plan to take to fill this gap in the second-hand car market. Having said that, the CarReport service is by no means a replacement for a physical check, but it does provide a useful first step to educate the buyer on issues that they would otherwise be unaware of.”
Pascal Persoon, CEO at CarReport said, “A recent survey indicated that 72% of all car buyers are not negotiating about the vehicle price and 36% of all information on vehicle classifieds is incorrect or incomplete. For those groups, CarReport is an excellent supporting tool to assist when buying a vehicle. We keep on improving our services and lot more information will soon be added to CarReport. We are happy to collaborate with everyone who contributes to more transparency and information for consumers buying a used vehicle.”