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Factors To Consider When Buying A Used Car In Kenya

By Wang’ombe Kibunja

People sell their cars for one reason or the other and that allows those who cannot afford brand new units to have a source for cars. It’s a basic supply and demand kind of scenario. You need to sell your car, I want to own a car, we meet and if we agree money changes hands and I become a car owner. This is of course after inspecting the car and the paperwork with the relevant authorities. But before you buy that used car, here are the factors to considers:

Budget and purpose

Before you consider a car to buy, it’s prudent to do some research on the kind of vehicles available for the specific task you want to do and the budget at hand. Picture this, you own a bakery business and you need a car to deliver cakes to your distributors.

Logically you will go for a van or a truck, but your budget will only allow you to buy a small car. What would be more sensible: a station wagon or a sedan? Both may cost the same price, have the same fuel consumption but a station wagon would carry many more cakes than the sedan.

First step in choosing what to buy should be determined by the intended use of the vehicle and how much you intend to spend on the purchase.

Availability of Spares

Car Owners want to dispose of their cars for varied reasons. As you dive into the second hand car market checkout for models or vehicles that have availability of parts. A seller may be getting rid of his car since it’s a nightmare getting parts.

Some car models are not meant for the African market but when they find their way here they are unable to cope with the condition of our roads leading to premature wear of parts which are in most cases not readily available.

Maintenance and Usage history

The service history of the car should be part of the deal in buying any car, when you observe the service history of any vehicle you are able to ascertain if the vehicle was well maintained.

A well maintained vehicle will be economical to run in the long run since there is minimal wear and tear. Check for the oil change history, also have a mechanic inspect the oil levels so as to know if all parts are properly lubricated.

Have a mechanic or personally check under the car for any oil leaks, clearly inspect the engine bay for any oil stains which could be signs of freshly done engine repairs, ask the seller about this if he hadn’t initially mentioned them to you. 

Signs of repainting

Check the paint for inconsistencies, masking tape marks and runoffs, these are signs of repainting. When you notice this take a closer look at the repainted panels for signs of panel beating or filler.

These are signs of a shoddy job after an accident, a clean repair could be unnoticeable but mismatching panels or gaps between panels may still be visible. Check for signs of abuse on the vehicle for example dents in the cargo area indicating that it was carrying heavy objects or being overloaded.

Weak suspension and bent cross members are signs of abuse or accidents. You can use this to renegotiate the car price or depending on the damage visible you could opt out of the deal.

Inspect Car 

It’s advisable to inspect a car in the morning before it runs much during the day, as the car cranks in a cold start most of the issues with the engine will be noticeable, for example a hard start, inconsistent idling, stalling just to mention a few, as the engine warms up this problems disappear hence inspecting a car that has been running for a while you will end up missing out these issues. 

Validation and transfer

After physical inspection of the vehicle a car search is important to prove ownership and to ascertain details on the car. Visit the NTSA portal and do an online logbook search. Obtain the engine number, chassis number and vehicle colour, compare them to the logbook and physically on the car and ensure none of them has been tampered with.

This will also help confirm the owner of the vehicle. You can also check if the car has its duty paid or it has some fees to be paid as tax, this will all be included on the TIMS/NTSA search.

At this point you can make a sales agreement with the seller, initiate a bank transfer for the deposit or as per agreement then go ahead to the TIMS portal where you pay the transfer fees required as the transfer is initiated from the sellers TIMS account to your account making you the legal owner of the car.

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