Your Brand New Car Just Might Not Be As Brand New As You Think It Is

A couple of days ago, a colleague of mine showed me an interesting article on an international auto website. The article was about your new car not being entirely new. It was about how a vehicle can get damaged in the transit, and if the damage is relatively small, and dealer fixes it, the dealership is not legally bound to tell you about the damage. The author is from the US and was explaining the procedures from that perspective. He wrote that if the repairing that transit damage costs under a certain percentage of the actual cost of the vehicle, the dealership can sell you the car without ever mentioning any sort of damage.

I am going to mention the example he wrote in that article to make it easier to understand. He wrote that he bought a Subaru WRX for USD 28,138 from US state North Carolina. In North Carolina, according to the state laws, the dealership can repair a damage worth 5pc of the total cost of the vehicle. Over 5pc, dealers have to inform the customers. So the Subaru he bought was for USD 28,138, and the dealership can spend up to USD 1,400 in repairing transit damage and can sell you that WRX as new. You can read that article for more details here.

This got me thinking, what are the chances that your brand new off the shelf Toyota Corolla made by Indus Motors was damaged, but the dealership didn’t bother telling you that. Accidents happen! It is only natural. Honda Atlas has its plant near Lahore, Pak Suzuki and Indus Motors have theirs in Karachi. When cars are being transported, there are numerous ways they can get damaged; whether it’s loading unloading or the freight trailer getting in an accident, etc. Even at the dealership, a mechanic might have dropped a spanner on the bonnet of your Suzuki Cultus and the dealership immediately took the dent out and repainted it before you took the delivery. Let’s be honest, it’s not like paint quality of our brand new cars is so good that you can easily tell if the car has been repainted at the dealership or not. And mostly people are not able to identify if the paint is ‘janiyun’ (genuine) or a repaint.

You will find umpteenth number of new car owners with stories regarding their new cars not feeling right; misaligned panels, different shades of fenders, etc. I have heard several stories of people fearing their cars might have been repainted at the dealership before they were delivered. I am sure many of you might have seen the images of Hyundai Shahzore pickups with squashed roofs because the driver of the freight trailer couldn’t judge how low the bridge on the 9th Avenue was. If not, here are the images. Thread, here. And yes, that is an extreme example, but you get the point.

Hyundai Shahzore (1) Hyundai Shahzore (3) Hyundai Shahzore (4)

But here is another issue, the built quality of our brand new cars are not exactly great also. I mean yes, there are chances that dealerships are selling repaired vehicles every now and then but what if you that wonky front fascia of your car was not because of the transportation damage, but the car assembling plant at the backend didn’t bother to thoroughly check the vehicle for quality assurance.

Last week, I was driving with the head of PakWheels CarSure team here in Islamabad when I saw a beautifully maintained 10th generation Toyota Corolla in silver. I noticed its rear bumper was of a lighter shade than the body. So was the case with the front bumper as well. I mentioned this to the CarSure head and asked if the bumpers are repainted. He said, no! That’s just how the bumpers of those Corollas were. He told me Indus apparently didn’t put primer on the bumpers before painting them. So with the passage of the time, the paint on bumpers changes its shade a bit.

What I am trying to say is that as much as there are chances of your car being damaged in the transit, there are more chances of it just being poorly made. That’s just a sad truth. The question is, what can you do if you find out that your car has been repaired or something? As mentioned above, in the US, dealers have some legal amnesty when it comes to telling customers about pre-delivery damage. But after certain damage, they are bound to inform their customers. As far Pakistan is concerned, I am not aware of any law like that. I googled and asked around, but no one could give me a definitive answer. But there are a couple of things that can help.

DamageHonda(4)DamageHonda(9)DamageHonda(6) DamageHonda(5) DamageHonda(7) DamageHonda(8)

Japanese parent companies of the Big Three operating in Pakistan are quite sensitive when it comes to their image and taking care of their customers. So if you have a problem with your vehicle, but your local automaker and dealer are not cooperating, shoot an email with details to their Japanese bosses. It usually works. I remember reading about one case where a PakWheels member sent an email to Suzuki in Japan because his car had some major built quality issue. I don’t remember the exact details, but Pak Suzuki did rectify the problem after Suzuki Japan’s involvement. Nowadays, even local car makers are worried about bad PR and image in the press thanks to the social media. One Toyota Corolla customer in Islamabad found out his Corolla to be a serious lemon. He tried his best to get it resolved through the Islamabad Aabpara dealership from where he bought the car but to no avail. Even Toyota Indus didn’t bother with his complaints. He ended up making a thread on PakWheels and his story got traction and finally Indus Motors woke up and hurried to resolve the issue but unfortunately for them, their Corolla had already hit the fan, if you know what I mean. That earned them some seriously bad press, although I don’t think that made any quantifiable difference in the overall betterment of the production quality of their cars. You can read about Nabeel’s story here.

Still, it’s better than finding a paper cutter blade in the rear seat of your car.

Other than making some serious noise on social media, there is a legal way as well. We have consumer courts working in Pakistan, working under Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan. And they are pretty efficient as far as I have heard. Say you found out that your Mehran was extensively damaged during the transportation, and your dealership is not cooperating with you, you can always go to the consumer courts. I have mostly heard positive reviews about the courts that they usually side with the consumers, but I don’t have a personal experience with them, or personally know anyone who had been to those courts.

So yeah, it’s a sad truth about our car industry. States in the USA legally provide cover to dealerships to cover the damage, but only to a certain extent. We don’t have any rule or law like that here in Pakistan, and our dealerships take absolutely no blame for any damage. Leave dealerships at a side for a second, our car makers aren’t exactly losing their sleep for us either.

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  • Patriot

    Brother you were seriously misguided by Pakwheel carsure guy. Let me tell you the following facts:

    1. The corolla guy might have painted the bumpers, although it was of new model, possibility of meeting with accident or minor scratches cannot be ruled out in any on road vehicle despite its new.

    2. The carsure guy made his observation on farsightedness not by detail inspection which may be incorrect.

    3. Application of primer does not contribute to colour shade. Primer is applied for enhance bonding of bumper surface or old paint with fresh/ new paint otherwise the paint may chip off. Thats why its mostly applied in touch up paint.

    4. The logic can be on the contrary i.e. if primer is applied then there is a possibility of colour shade change. It is due to colour of primer which if applied in its original form will require more paint layers in case f dark shade car. So to avoid this colour of primer is matched with original colour of car. Since according, to carsure guy Indus Motors do not apply primer, he got the logic entirely wrong.

    5. In factory, car is painted in same shade which is applied on entire car including steel frame and bumpers and other plastic trims (door handles, side mirrors, door mouldings etc) and so it makes no sense that shade of only bumpers change.

    In the past I had never given a crap about Pakwheels carsure report when buying a used car due to the fact that it had Pakwheels Certification. Now such non technical observations by carsure guys which you gave above testifies to this fact.

  • Aref Ali

    Hey thank you for your detailed comment. I appreciate the time and effort.
    I will put the points you raised in front of him.
    Thanks once again.

  • Imran Baloch

    nice info. and also points raised by Patriot are wonderful.

  • Ali

    There’s a certain suzuki dealership on jail road lahore which is owned by a friend of mine. a few years ago a trailer carrying suzuki cars overturned on the highway and roofs of almost all of the cars were badly damaged. that suzuki dealership bought all those vehicles, got them repaired and sold them off as new cars and that too on premium. this i think was in 2006-07.

  • Guest

    It is true that it raises questions about competence of carsure.

    Primer (prime coat) has two basic properties which help its working function, it is penetrant and it is porous. It penetrates the substrate and clings to it (paint cannot penetrate that substrate). On the exposed face, primer is porous and “adsorbs”[sic] the paint to help the layer of paint cling to it. Primer is purpose-made to be able to let the paint penetrate it, the substrate is not purpose-made for this specific purpose. Primer also provides sealing properties to the surface it is covering but only for a limited time when its porosity is sealed by the paint.

    Depending upon the material properties of the substrate and/or paint, a primer may or may not be needed. Such paints are rare which do not need a primer.

    It could be possible that different primer be used for metal and rubber substrate. But still, using different primer or not using any primer altogether should not be the cause of filtering through of background color because: Paint is painted in layers (commonly called coats). The purpose of more and more number of coats is to hide whatever color is underneath. (In addition, provide protection to the substrate, therefore a minimum DFT should be established, but this is a problem only with metals, not with plastics).

    The difference in shade is not due to primer, different primer, or absence of primer. 10th gen isn’t exactly new and as above commentator said, they could as well have been repainted.


    In addition, the premise of your carsure guy is that because primer was not used, therefore paint has changed color. Is primer supposed to serve as clear coat now? Is its purpose to protect the paint?

  • Ahmed Amin Malik

    Really? It doesn’t get any sadder than that.

  • KkK

    Pakistani cars arent even assembled properly. Theres no quality check and now this ! Then most of you blame the japanese cars even though not all of them are accidental. Now who knows your “zero meter swift” was accidental too.

  • Guest

    Because electricity is expensive. And welding is the most power-consuming part of the process. So they skimp on lots of welds.

    The result of which means that less crash-worthiness. Less durability. And even during driving can feel chassis flex is greater (compared to an identical car which has been assembled abroad). And if you see all 3 things are present in Pakistan-assembled cars vs. the identical model cars assembled in another country. (There is even a joke that if Suzuki, Indus and Mazda started welding properly the load shedding would become twice).

    Quality check is present. Japanese do not compromise on quality. But the standard of quality is adjusted as per the target market. Japanese market (JDM) has strict quality standard. Others are US market, UK market, EU market, Indian market, Chinese market. Some small countries have adopted standards for other, bigger markets, only that car can be sold there which meets to a certain standard. But in Pakistan, there is no quality standard for cars, no crash-worthiness standard, no fitness standard, no safety standard, no human comfort (e.g Gulf-spec A/C, it is a standard to keep the drivers and passengers at a certain level of comfort), and till 2012 there was no emissions standard too.

  • AbdulB1

    Pakistan is free free for all criminals

  • AbdulB1

    Pakistan mei sab chalta ha

  • Umair

    Well, I also sent some images of an accidented vigo, that I personally saw, was damaged in transit

  • Umair

    Her jaga he chalta hai. Humain nazar ziada Pakistan main ata hai

  • Shahid Mehmood

    The writer is absolutely right , as it can be proved with many comments posted here, there are many of us aware of this fact. Once i was at a road side (ustaad type) denter painter shop for the touching of my car’s bumpers, there i saw a brand new Cultus, its front grill and bumper was broken. The workshop staff was changing its grill with a new one, i dont know whether it was a genniune one or just one of those First copy, 2nd Copy available in the market but yet they were changing it and bumper was there for repaint, and one side head light was also broken a long with the side indicator (next to head lamp) . and they were also talking like this ke, “Jab show room jaye gi to showroom walon ne 3,4 hazar mithai ka bhi le lena hai yeh nahi pata ke car milnay se pehle hi repaint ho chuki hai”

    Another story i wanna post here i can say belongs to me in some way. Its about Pak Suzuki paint standard.

    It was a co-incident that me and 3 of the neibours bought a Cultus back in 2010 October (new shaped) in Graphite Gray Color. Same month registered same color. once we all four had a get together (party/treat) for the newly bought vehicles and on the Sunny Day when we get our vehicles parked together, we came to know that alothough we all have Graphite Gray color as per PakSuzuki call it. But we all have different shades of cars labeled under the same color. So they have no standard in shades, every car is looking so different from the other if compare side by side. It maybe due to different batches of paint of different days. But still there should be a standard outcome for the same color?

    Like come on if the color has some number like GC5465 ok 2k , then at least all the other compostions should be also same , just like a road side painter do when painting a car.
    I still dont know why pak suzuki all cars dont match with one another.