Buying a used Northern American Spec Car

18 March 2021

There is confusion in the GCC and specifically in the UAE regarding used imported cars of Northern American Specs (the USA and Canada). If you ever searched online and compare prices (apples to apples) between Northern American Spec and GCC Spec cars, you may have certainly noticed the major price difference. Northern American Spec cars imported into UAE are most likely of 2 origins.

USA or Canada, I have been in the used car market in the UAE for the past 10 years buying and selling used cars and I have come across cars that were imported from the USA and Canada. So, I will try to explain the risks and benefits. What to look for when buying a used northern American spec car in the UAE.

Cars imported from the USA or Canada mostly are shipped by dealers in both countries to their business affiliates here in the UAE, who mostly are either used car showrooms or independent car dealers. Dealers in the USA buy these cars from either of the 2 sources and I am talking about the majority and the ratio is 9 out of 10 cars. They buy these cars from either state auctions or insurance companies in the USA or Canada. Cars bought from state auctions are in better condition than the ones from insurance companies. Hence, the cars can be bought cheaper. The cars bought at an auction are either sold by companies (fleet), by used car showrooms, or by individual car owners, hence they are in better condition than the ones bought from car insurance companies.


North American Spec Cars Origin

In Northern American by law, if a car has been in an accident or damaged by other means such as but not limited to flood damage, hurricane damage, or any other natural event which caused the car to be rendered undrivable. The insurance companies then issue a Salvage title to the car indicating that the car is undrivable. Insurance companies are per the terms of the insurance have to take these cars back and pay the owner the settlement amount for which the car was insured. Since these cars are not to be driven by law, the insurance companies have taken possession and pay the insured value to the owner of the car. Insurance companies then decide to sell these “Salvaged cars” to overseas buyers and in terms of this article “UAE Dealers” or freelancers. Unfortunately, there is no regulation in the UAE regarding these cars being imported but there is an RTA guideline that if you intend to register these cars to be driven on the roads, then this car can be repaired to be tested at RTA. Once approved, then the car can be registered and driven on the UAE roads. 


How to identify North American Spec Cars?

First, you want to identify if the car is of Northern American Spec or not. One way to check is to get the VIN of the car and put it into Google search and there is a very good chance that the car should show up using the VIN number because, when these cars are damaged, the insurance companies put them on their sites or other claim sites which are then picked up by Google for indexing. So, you should see the damaged car there. If you don’t see that same car, then you can do the following by going to this site where the author has described in detail how to check if the car is from Northern American and with Northern American Spec along with specs from other regions GCC spec vs Non-GCC Spec cars in the UAE.


Should you buy North American Spec Cars or Not?

Now, you have identified that the car is of Northern American Spec. What to do? Should you buy it or not? The main this you need to look for is to see if the Chassis was damaged and repaired. And you can only do that by taking the car to your choice of the garage and have them look at it and confirm whether the car had chassis damage, and it was repaired. You can also take the car to RTA and get a comprehensive test done on it and they can confirm it for you as well. If confirmed, then I would say, just walk away from the deal. You rather buy one from the same origin with no chassis damage than one that has damage repair to it. The resale value of the one with damage repair is much lower than the ones without it. So the bottom line is just don’t buy one with damage to the chassis. Like I said if the USA law does not allow these cars to be re-driven on the road is for a reason because there are garages in the USA as well and they are very capable of repairing these damaged Chassis but the government does not allow it for safety purpose so we should not buy them here as well for the same reason. 

From my point of view, it is OK to buy the Northern American Spec cars which have no history of salvage if you are getting a very good deal. There is a misconception about the AC and Air filter, but it's so minor that it is negligible. You can drive these cars in the summer here with ease. You also have to know that as the UAE, the United States of American also has stated with similar hot weather. For example, in Texas and Nevada states, the weather can get as hot as the weather here in the UAE. And the areas in Nevada also have sand, so all these cars are built to be driven under conditions present in the USA and for Canada, even in Snow. I have driven these cars here in the UAE and found them to have no problems what’s so ever and also; they are pocket-friendly. So, if you decide to buy a Used Northern American Spec car here in the UAE, just make sure that it was not in no major accident, and definitely, it was not a salvaged car. Then the rest is up to you, but keep another thing in mind, I should also mention that the resale of these cars will be less vs the same of GCC spec, so expect to lose money on the car once you try to resell it. But it's your money and your choice, so you need to be a judge of that. 

So, to sum it up:

1. Check USA and Canada Spec car for verification of origin

2. Check to see if the car was salvaged

3. Check to see if the car had chassis damage