The thought of getting a new ride especially for first timers is quite thrilling. However, before you go ahead and get one, there are important considerations you must make to ensure you get a car that will serve you well and save your pocket. Otherwise, you may go for a wrong car or end up cash-strapped.
The Kenyan motor vehicle market is dominated by used vehicles (second-hand) which account for over 80% of all the vehicle sold. These vehicles originate from mainly Japan with a few coming from Europe, the US, South Korea, and other places.
If you do not like the idea of buying a second-hand car, you have an option of buying a new one from the various new automobile dealerships such as Toyota Kenya, Simba Corp, DT Dobie, Subaru Kenya, CMC Motors Group, among many others.
We are going to focus on the very important factors that every car buyer in Kenya must consider before buying one, whether new or used. We will have a separate guide for buying used cars in Kenya. So, what factors should you consider?
1. Look at your budget and financing options
This should be the first consideration. To help you get a true picture of expenses you may incur remember you need to meet insurance costs and if duty and registration have not been paid, you will also incur them.
While looking at the cost, do not forget to factor in the overall cost, not monthly payments you will be making. Most vendors often make it attractive through monthly prices which may make the car expensive in the long run.
Finally, you have an option of financing it yourself, seek for asset financing from a financial institution or go for hire purchase.
2. Consider your needs
Why are you buying a car? Is it for leisure, leasing or daily use? If it is for daily use, you need to go for one that is fuel economical. For instance, going for hybrid vehicles and ones with lower engine capacity will save fuel.
However, saving on fuel should not be the only consideration but what you really want and if you can afford it.
3. Decide on brand, model, type, fuel, transmission, and color
Once you know your needs, you should consider your personal taste. They revolve around the following:
- Decide the vehicle brand. Do you want a BMW, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Honda, Audi, Lexus, Mazda, and so on?
- On vehicle type, you need to decide if you want a hatchback, sedan, MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), an SUV, crossover or a convertible?
- Vehicle transmission -This has to do with how gears are shifted. An automatic one is where the car decides which gears to sift to while a manual one, you must do it yourself using the clutch and gas pedals.
- Decide on color. The most common colors are silver/grey, white, black and red. White and silver are often considered safer colors as they are more visible. However, you should go for one that looks good to you.
- On fuel type, you have an option of going for electric, hybrid, petrol and diesel vehicles.
- The car model is a way manufactures group similar vehicle together and refer them as a certain model. This has something to do with certain years of the manufacturer.
4. Do you want a new or used car?
Deciding on whether you want a new or used car is very important since it will affect the overall price. Generally, new vehicles will be much more expensive than used ones, but they have their own advantages.
If you decide to go for a used one, you still need to decide whether you need a grey import vehicle (foreign used) or a locally used one.
Finally, in case of a grey import, you can decide to go for an already imported one, import it yourself if you have a trusted foreign dealer or have an agency help import it. Be very careful. It is common for swindlers to take advantage of you as you try to import it.
5. Look at expert reviews
You may not be an automotive enthusiast, geek or guru and things such as model, brands or type may not make sense to you. However, being an important investment that will cost you a lot of money, ensure you read expert reviews.
Reviews will give you an insight on price range, model, key features and specification, pros, cons, driving experience, safety rating, resale value, and so on, on most vehicles.
Also, solicit professional advice or inquire from some of your friends who have a similar car to the one you want to buy or know more about automobiles.
6. Compare prices
There are many car dealerships in Kenya especially in major towns including Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Naivasha, Eldoret, and so on where you can go to compare price.
Furthermore, take advantage of various classified car ad websites such as cheki.co.ke, kenyacarbazaar.com, pigiame.co.ke, gigimotors.co.ke, kemumotors.com, toyotsuautomart.com, carlocus.co.ke, motorshop.co.ke, carsearch.co.ke, olx.co.ke, autobazaar.co.ke, ineaxmotors.com, kaba.co.ke, among many others.
As you compare prices, if you are going for a used car, consider the general car condition, whether importation duty has been paid or not, year of registration, whether it has been used locally or not, among other factors as they will affect the overall price.
Finally, ensure you come up with a few cars that match your needs and their prices.
7. Go for a long test drive and assessment
Having decided on the specific car you want to buy, and if it is within your budget limits, request for a long test drive from your salesperson, at least 30 minutes.
We recommend doing both on and off-road (such as a rough road). This is particularly very important for second-hand cars. Hit brakes, try packing it, take a corner, change lanes, accelerate, and so on during a test drive.
Finally, an assessment by a trusted mechanic will be vital if you are buying a used car as he or she will be able to certify on its condition.
8. Never mention trade-in
You do not know the least price that your vendor will be willing to take. Ensure you bargain to that least price before you use your trade-in to further reduce its price.
9. Price negotiation
From price comparison, you already know what competitors are selling the specific car at. It is also a fact that most vehicle vendors are always willing to reduce even their best prices.
Therefore, know why the car is being sold, whether there is a deadline pressure, and so on to be your bargaining chip.
Secondly, let your dealer give you their price first, give them your price, don’t be reasonable and be firm on it. Remember you have a few other car options you can go for.
Finally, do not forget to ask for extras such as free service, wheel alignment, discounted service, as well as other add-ons, as they will go a long way making a saving.
10. Consider insurance costs
How much your car insurance premiums will cost will have an impact on the overall cost you will incur. The cost will depend on which cover you go for, the value of your car and the insurance company you choose.
The Kenyan law requires all private vehicles to have at least a liability or third-party insurance (protects you against a third party in an event of an accident) which has the lowest premium.
Alternatively, you can go for third-party theft and fire or a comprehensive insurance cover which will attract higher premiums.
You need your logbook, identification documents like the National ID and a valuation report when buying insurance.
11. Close the purchase
If you agree on the price, you can go ahead and strike a deal and have a sales agreement contract signed by both parties involved. Always, ensure you have the right documentation.
If you are buying from a private owner, conduct a vehicle search on the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) portal to verify vehicle ownership, any pending fees, he or she should initiate NTSA TIMS online car ownership transfer.
Finally, get the original logbook and confirm if the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) is correct as well as the chassis number which will be last six digits of your VIN number before making payment.