According to a report by the KRA in 2015, approximately 20,000 cars on our Kenyan roads are purchased directly from a showroom (brand new). This is a small number in comparison to the number of cars in the country, with a reported 7000 used car imports every month. Used cars are the way to go, unless you have the budget for a showroom car, used cars have proven to be more than reliable for our day-to-day living either from used car dealers, personal sellers or through import. However, as used cars have had a previous owner, one can only hope that the previous was vigilant in maintaining the car. No matter the case, once you buy a used car there are some actions that you need to take to make sure you enjoy the value for money.
Change your battery:
When you buy a used car, you can never know how long the previous owner has used the battery, unless it has the date of purchase, it’s impossible to tell. Therefore, you can never know how long the battery will serve you before it brings you issues, it is only good practice to have the idea of changing the battery soon after purchase.
Another issue that may compel you to change the battery is its type. There are two main types of car batteries; maintenance free (dry batteries) and serviceable batteries (wet batteries). A maintenance-free battery as the name suggests, is designed not to be opened or refilled. A serviceable battery on the contrary can be opened and refilled whenever the battery water is low.
The issue with serviceable batteries is that the battery water can evaporate over time lowering the battery level and hence the battery performance. This means that you need to check and ensure that the battery water is always at the right level. A dry battery simply relieves you of this necessity, as it will not require any kind of maintenance.
PREPARE FOR A MAJOR SERVICE
As we all know a used car may have already been serviced. However, majority of the time this would be a minor service. A minor service would normally involve the following;
- Changing the Air Filter
- Replacing the Oil
- Checking that all lights work
- Battery tests
- Checking and/or adjusting tyre pressure
- Checking and adjusting the level of the coolant if necessary
- Ensuring that the brake fluid is enough
A major service goes further into components of the car that a minor service does not address. This normally includes, the following;
- Checking and/or replacing the brake pads
- Analysing the engine mountings to ensure your car does not have irregular vibrations
- Checking the engine belt and hoses for wear and tear
- Ensuring the shock absorbers are in good shape
- Replacing the spark plugs
A major service done after buying your used car enhances longevity and a lovelier stay with your car.
Motor insurance otherwise known as auto cover is one of the mandatory requirements before one is allowed on the road with their vehicle. The Kenyan traffic laws Act 405 makes it a basic requirement for all vehicles on the road to have such a cover. As a customer, you need to look at an insurance cover that goes the extra mile, a package that includes coverage of the vehicle and its separate parts such as the windscreen or sound system ensuring that you are fully covered when on the road (Comprehensive Insurance). If one is on a budget, you can opt for Third Party Insurance, this motor insurance does not cover you and your motor vehicle. It covers your legal liability for the damage you caused to a third party only – injury, death, and/or property damage caused to a third party in the event of an accident caused by or arising out of the use of the vehicle.
Get a professionals opinion
Once you buy your used car, you will need a mechanic for regular repairs that you can’t manage by yourself. Having an opinion from your mechanic on the feel of the car can be instrumental in knowing what kinks may be present in your used car. Mechanics live day in day out fixing cars, they can put their foot on the gas and immediately give you a diagnosis on what troubles your car may have. Before you drive your car home, have your mechanic take it for a test drive. He can have a good feel of the car and point out anything you may have missed such as a slight wheel alignment or wheel balancing issue.
Buying a car is not the end of the road, to ensure you enjoy every bit of it without stress, make sure you are vigilant and proactive in maintaining your car. The tips given above are a way to ensure the start to a hassle free car ownership experience.