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Rains flood car repair centres with business

A vehicle stalls on a flooded Ajman road. The wet weather has given a boost to the auto servicing industry. (EB FILE)

By VM Sathish

Vehicle service centres, spare parts suppliers and car wash centres are enjoying a boom after three days of heavy rain.

Many cars were immobilised and damaged by floodwaters and some owners are having to buy replacement starters, alternators and other parts. Scrap dealers selling second-hand parts are also benefiting from the upturn in business.

The rain caused hundreds of accidents across the UAE, boosting demand for bodywork repairs, keeping vehicle recovery firms busy.

"In the past two days we have seen many customers who want to get their damaged saloon cars and four-wheel drives repaired," said Mayin NR, Managing Director, Atlas Automobile Garage at Umm Ramool in Dubai's Rashidiya area.

"Most vehicles are having engine problems because water got into crucial parts and ruined the electrical system. There is increased demand for cheaper second-hand engines from scrap dealers. As repairing a damaged engine often costs more than buying a replacement, many drivers opt for engines from scrapyards."

He said a used engine costs between Dh1,000 and Dh1,500 while a new engine would set the motorist back by Dh10,000 or more. "We have to source an engine that matches the damaged one from scrap dealers. Repairing a car with a waterlogged engine takes at least a week's time."

He said many repair centres in Rashidiya were doing well because some garages in the Sharjah industrial area were flooded. "The rain came as a great relief to garages because many had reported a decline in business by almost 50 per cent due to a number of factors. Dubai Police have intensified its vigilance on roads and the number of road accidents has fallen by almost half in the past four months. This has adversely affected bodyshop businesses."

However, he said, demand for mechanical services had gone up because many people were using old cars and not buying new vehicles because of the economic downturn. "People without insurance cover prefer to go to cheaper garages because there is a 60 per cent cost difference between established garages run by auto dealers and small garages. As rain damage is not covered by motor insurance the smaller garages are having a good time," he added.

Scrap dealers obtain engines from damaged vehicles and used engines are available for all models. An engine for an old-model Toyota Corolla costs $500 Dh1,836), a fraction of the price of a new Toyota engine, though prices go up depending on the year the model was manufactured.

Mohammed Nizam of Al Bukhari Auto Repair at Dhaid in Sharjah told this newspaper: "Garages in Dhaid have been doing good business as many old vehicles have been damaged in the rain. We are mainly seeing engine problems. Used engines are usually easily available in Dhaid, but there is a shortage in the past two days and we have had to buy from scrap dealers in Sharjah."

He said all 10 employees at the repair centre were working overtime to repair flood-damaged cars.

Vinod CK, Sales Executive of Al Qassmiah Auto Spare Parts Trading in Sharjah, said: "Normally engine parts like dynamos, starters and alternators are slow-moving items. But due to the rain the engines of many vehicles have been damaged and there is increased demand."


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