An Idiot’s Guide to First-Time Car ownership

An Idiot's Guide to First-Time Car ownership
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 Aspiring first-time car owners are the worst to advise.

Aspiring first-time car owners are the worst to advise.

Here is the lowdown about car ownership for newbies and GOATs as well. Hitherto, many first-time car owners turn to the Car Clinic column in the Daily Nation on Wednesdays. They inundate JM Baraza with questions such as which car to buy between buying car model X and Y.  Invariably, they will indicate their budget, expected use of the car; delivery van, family car or daily use.

JM Baraza has a way of subtly telling them that their questions are rather naïve.

It is a fact, many car owners and aspiring car owners have both curiosity and fear of certain car models.

It is also a fact some owners have purchased certain car models for petty reasons such as optics, impulse, affordability, class and so on.

But today I want to focus on all that pertains to cars and car ownership. As my maiden post on here, I feel that it is fair to start with the basics of car ownership before we proceed to compare different models. 

Car ownership is something that is intimately innate. You feel what you want in a car. You saw your pal Jimmy roll in his Passat and took a ride and you liked it, you would love to have a similar car or better, that is if you are into class issues. You ask Jimmy about the dent it acquiring it left on its pocket, you reflect on your account balance, you realize its off limits, you demote your ambition.

 You move on to the next model, you fantasize about it, you like it but the likely damage to your account balance puts you off. By the time you say enough is enough, you have like three or four models in mind. By now you wish you were part of the NYS looters so that you could buy all the cars of your dream. Greed is the reason some folks own more than one car.

Kenyan dealers are notoriously averse to enforcing recalls.

Back to basics.

As an aspiring first-time car owner, here is what you need to know. You must answer the following question: WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, HOW MUCH AND HOW, in that order. Once you answer these questions, take a deep breath. In. Out.

Next ask yourself: New or used? As you already know, each goat can only graze as far as its leash can allow. If your balance can give you the luxury to visit a showroom, go there. If not, then a second-hand is the only option.

Both options have their dilemmas.

In the first option, DT Dobie might be promoting a new model of VW or say, Mercedes, you go in and try to strike a deal on how to finance the acquisition and once done, you are cruising down the road.

The good thing with a new showroom car, it comes with a warranty, proper insurance and dealer service as per the warranty. Problems set in when the warranty lapses, or there occurs a recall for some fault that was recently discovered. Kenyan dealers are notoriously averse to enforcing recalls.

The other thing with showroom cars, before the lapse of your warranty, a good dealer will give you a good deal to do a trade-in with your current car.

While at it, I must mention that in Sweden where I currently live, there is particular emphasis on cleaning your car and maintaining it as a stock issue.

This ensures that in the likely event you want to trade it in, it is clean and remains as it was during purchase which gives you a good value. I will hasten to caution the new would be the owner, avoid those childish and unnecessary out of stock additions like speakers and some stupid gadgetry in your standard issue car.

Y.O.M is normally indicated there on that white tag, it is easy to tell if the sod selling the car is scamming you.

The other advantage of a showroom car would me genuine mileage and service history. I’m sure we have all heard of clocks being tampered with, falsified mileage when it comes to second-hand cars. With showroom cars, you are sure of what you are getting into. I won’t labor to mention other advantages of showroom cars like free coffee or tea during servicing or courtesy/alternative cars when yours is grounded or is being serviced by your dealer.

Now, if we flip to the coin to the treacherous side of second-hand cars, other than price, there is everything bad to say about this choice. But not everything is as bad. Again, it kind of boils down to budget even when dealing with the second-hand sellers. Since you will miss a lot of advantages that come with our first option, you need to get the most out of this deal. Contrary to popular opinion, some very patient and focused guys have acquired high end and quality cars on the cheap as second hand.

Being a first-time owner does not mean you are silly or blind, you can tell a good ride from a bad one. Also before we (assuming we are on the prowl to buy a second-hand car and am guiding you greenhorn) buy this car, you/we shall casually gloss over interiors, mileage, look at the logbook details and compare the info that mostly appears on the safety belts, yes, Y.O.M is normally indicated there on that white tag, it is easy to tell if the sod selling the car is scamming you.

During your small talk, find out about the service history albeit chances are he won’t be wholly truthful. Having done that, open the hood and peek around the engine and the engine bay, check for leaks, check to see if there are cracks or signs of welding around the areas that anchor the front suspension. Cracks or welding indicate careless driving or bad suspension altogether. If by any chance you happen to see the many cable harnesses or much of the cabling covered in insulation tape, that is a tell-tale sign of wiring problems with the car.

As pertains the engine, it is imperative that you find out if it has been reworked before. This, you can tell by looking if the warranty paint has been scraped off the numerous bolts and nuts. Your next stop should lead you to the pit stop for underbelly inspection. It is anybody’s guess why you should do an underbelly inspection. All this time let the owner drive while you are seated at the back left, listening to the car for any unusual mechanical noises and general performance.

Assuming you are satisfied, go for a test drive and explore the possibilities of doing an upcountry test drive with the same although this is a long shot. It is a good way, however, to determine how reliable the ride is.

All said and done, the final part is payment, lawyer blah blah. One thing you should know, the lawyer cannot prevent you from fraud or being defrauded, in fact, he might facilitate the fraud. So here you must be on your sharpest wits. I operate on the premise that even the president has a debt. This is where even if I had all the money for the car, I will ask the seller to allow to finish the payment after a month or two.

Most of this NYS twats rush to buy your dream car but more often than not, they have no idea what it means to run a car.

Since fraudulent sellers or dealers seem to have everything in order always, that debt window serves to give you time to be double-sure, change car locks, ignition, transfer and or change ownership although impossible if payment ain’t settled, change Reg No. Yes, you can change it, at least KRA used to allow, not if the nosy NTSA shebang allows people to nowadays. Such a move saves you the risk of being scammed.

But you need not strangle your ambition to buy your dream car. Be patient. Save up, throw the word around about the car you want, research about the car you want, do research about the car and it will be brought to you as a going concern.

Most of this NYS twats rush to buy your dream car but more often than not, they have no idea what it means to run a car. If you walk around many neighborhoods, you will see many good quality cars grounded, some are barned, some left to rot in the sun and dust, some on stones. You have seen them.

Upon inquiry, you will be told weird reasons as to why the car is not running, but it is mostly for funny reasons like charging, battery, starter, nothing that can’t be fixed. Such are the cars motoring heads often go for.

I may have not exhaustively dealt with this topic, one,  because some issues are rather obvious and two, motoring and vehicle ownership is dynamic and ever-evolving. As we move on, having bought our “imaginary car”, we have the bragging rights to now start comparing it with others.

Time for my ride now…



 Never lend your car to a guy that drives a company car. Thank me later.

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