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You ‘New’ Car

For the ordinary Kenyan, it is a bit of a stretch to purchase a brand-new showroom vehicle. Most Kenyans import pre-owned vehicles (or as we like to call them – ‘second hand’) because they find it easier to select and cheaper in terms of landed cost.

But let’s be honest, when a buyer is keen on purchasing a vehicle, it is easy to be ‘blinded’ by the emotion of the purchase. Here are a few cold hard facts that you should consider when importing that second-hand vehicle.

Country of Origin/Manufacture

Where is your ‘new’ import car coming from? Vehicles coming from Europe for instance have been adapted to the climatic conditions, fuel standards and regulations in that zone. This means have special features to restrict emissions, drive in winter, additional fluids like AdBlue etc. Pick a vehicle that has relatively few modifications that need to be carried out based on its country of origin.


When you import a vehicle, have a competent mechanic inspect it for you. Ask the mechanic to point out potential problems and remove or replace sensitive components that could cause you trouble in future. Pay keen attention to features like turbochargers and fuel systems of diesel vehicles, change the tyres and have the suspension looked at because, well, you will drive in the tropics.

Understand the technical spec

Specifications (specs) are the technical descriptions of your vehicle. We all understand general vehicle descriptions but as a buyer, you need to do better than that. Find out not just about the engine capacity but the engine type e.g. boxer type. Further, what type of issues arise from that engine type? Is this engine type common? You get the drift. Understanding the vehicle allows you to know how to handle it correctly and not make simple mistakes that could cost you an arm and a leg to rectify. If you like that BMW X6, at least find out where its tyre change kit is located! 😊

Research vehicle recalls

The advantage of importing a vehicle from the developed world is that basic information is available online. So, if you want a 2013 Toyota Prius, check out what reputation this vehicle has. Of particular importance is manufacturer recalls. As you can imagine, vehicles are not recalled for minor issues. Issues leading to vehicle recalls include safety concerns (airbags, braking system etc.) and malfunctions (overheating components, system failures and other issues noted through warranty claims).

So, if your vehicle of interest has been recalled for brake failure, move on my friend.

One of a kind?

Ever seen an amazing rare model vehicle and thought to yourself, I want to drive that car? Well, bad idea. Unless you know exactly how to support it. There are two main issues here – the vehicle will not have adequate support in terms of maintenance and repair locally and you will definitely need guidance on how to place its insurance. Consult to find out if the vehicle you are interested in buying is at least compatible with common models when it comes to service parts and is not considered a rare model by your insurer.

Correct mileage

There are sites today that allow you to verify the mileage on an import vehicle. You can also get the same at the point of vehicle inspection before shipment. Do not ignore this step because it determines how you will pick up on the service schedule of that vehicle. It also gives you an edge in negotiating at the point of purchase.

Import process

If you are importing for the first time, have someone or a firm guide you on the paperwork, exchange rates, timelines, shipping process, inspection process and duty payment. This is a key part of your transaction and after having invested time and effort in identifying a vehicle, don’t go cheap on this one.

We hope you find this information helpful. All the best!

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