Due to an influx of new expats after the summer, September is a popular month for car-buying in Qatar.
Whether you’re getting a new vehicle or opting for one that’s been previously owned, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind when making your final decision. Here are some tips from a local auto expert to help you navigate the waters:
When it comes to new cars, shop around
Apart from the official showroom, also check the price at other dealers who have mixed brands on offer. Most of the time, they will be able to give you more of a discount than the showroom itself.
And you may also be able to get extras like tint protection for windows thrown in for free. With warranty and insurance on par with the showrooms, this is a win-win situation.
Take advantage of promotions
With Eid Al Adha just around the corner, many dealerships will be offering special offers to woo customers.
For example, some showrooms will throw the cost of insurance or other freebies in as part of their sale.
Get your money ready
Telling the salesperson that you are ready to make a down payment on the spot gives you better bargaining power. For those who aren’t flush with that much cash, bank loans are another popular way to pay for cars.
According to Expat Arrivals:
“Most banks in Qatar will offer car loans, usually up to two years, and dealerships will also have loan options, which often include one large down payment followed by three to four monthly installments. Alternatively, some companies will offer loan schemes that then deduct monthly payments from the buyer’s salary.”
Secure the best warranty
For a hassle-free ownership experience, remember that cars = moving parts. It’s only going to be a matter of time before you need to replace something, so pick a car that offers you a great warranty (while making sure it still falls in your budget).
In this regard, turn to the internet to learn more about your potential vehicle’s service centers. Some models are known for having terrible after-sales service, though the Ministry of Economy and Commerce has recently warned dealerships to uphold consumer rights.
Consider buying company-certified used cars
Cars lose most of their value in the first two years. So if you are not too particular about the new smell of a car, then look for vehicles that are just a year or two old – the fewer kilometers on the odometer, the better.
That way you can get the car you want for much less. One option for used cars is to go for company-certified cars. These tend to be a bit more expensive than the ones sold by individual owners, but you are assured that the car is in good condition. If you’re planning to buy from a fellow resident, learn more on how to avoid being scammed here.
Do your homework
When considering buying a used car from an individual, make sure to not only take your own test drives (in neighborhoods and at faster speeds), but to also get the vehicle checked at a “computer checking center” around town, and by a mechanic if possible.
This will give you a fair idea about the engine performance, the chassis rigidity and the paint uniformity. Also check the tires, including the spare one, and lights, wipers, fog lamps – basically everything that you possibly can.
Snoop into the service history
Secure the last six digits of the used car’s engine number, and call or visit the vehicle’s service center to get the car’s service history. The personnel there are used to these kind of queries and should be able to provide you with details.
Another option is to seek a full ownership and accident history from the traffic department.
Don’t forget registration and insurance
New or used your car cannot be driven legally here until you have a driver’s license, car insurance and vehicle registration (in that order).
In Qatar, the vehicle is insured, not the driver, which means that anyone with a driver’s license can use the car without being penalized for making claims in the event of an accident. Policies typically last for 12 months.
Once you’ve secured insurance, you can move on to registration. For those buying used vehicles, check to see how long the the registration of the car is valid until (it needs to be renewed annually).
Keep in mind that once cars are three years old, they must go through an annual inspection to ensure they are safe. This inspection is done at technical centers that check the brakes, headlights, engine noise, battery condition, etc. Learn more about this here.
What are your top car-buying tips? Thoughts?