Buy a car in Kenya

Step by Step guide of buying a car in Kenya

Buying a car is usually a big decision to make, you don’t want to make any mistakes with your money. That is why we have decided to create this step-by-step guide on buying a car in Kenya. This guide will help anyone who wants to purchase a vehicle, whether new or secondhand.

Buy a car in Kenya

Steps to follow when buying a car in Kenya

Buy a vehicle is a process, right from the start to when you are going to drive it. You have to plan this process clearly to avoid getting into mistakes, not getting what you want or losing your money. Below, we will look at the steps of getting a car in detail, each step with its section.

1. Decide your budget

Before you even make any other step, please make sure that you have a very clear plan of the amount you are willing to spend. This budget should put all factors into consideration which include:

  • The buying price of the vehicle
  • Insurance payment
  • Payment of professionals that may be involved such as lawyers and mechanics
  • An additional amount for any other business that may arise when purchasing the car

plan a bufget for your car

Now that you have the prepurchase budget, you should also consider your financial status. A car will always post-purchase cost, in fact, it will always require cash from you as long as you want to drive it. You should hence be able in a financial position to fuel and maintain the car all the time. After assessing yourself and ascertaining you are good to go, you can proceed to step two.

2. Decide the car to buy

There are hundreds of cars in the Kenyan market, however, you have to pick one. There is that dream car you have in mind, unless you know everything about it, you should not just rush to pick it. First, check the specifications of the vehicle, if they fit your requirements you can go for it, if not look for the one that fits.

car brands logo

Here is a checklist that you can use to get a vehicle with the right specifications for your use:

  • What do you intend to use the vehicle for? For example, family car, business car, adventure car, sports, etc
  • What is your taste- do you like saloon cars, SUVs, hatchbacks, etc
  • Are you looking for a luxurious, sub-luxurious or basic car?
  • What roads and terrain will you be using the vehicle in? For example, murram roads, tarmac roads or even off-road
  • Are you concerned about the fuel economy
  • Do you want a car with a high resale value?

The car you go for should also have a good reputation in terms of reliability. Even if your financial status allows you to visit the mechanic frequently, it won’t make sense to have a car that can break down any time even at the middle of nowhere.

Now, after picking you the car, ensure it is within your budget. If so you can proceed to the next step below.

3. Where to buy your car in Kenya

Where you purchase the vehicle will influence different things such as the cost, the possibility of getting one in good condition, the percentage risk of losing your cash and how first you get the car. It is hence important to make a good decision based on your situation.

car dealers Kenya

Here are places that you can get your car:

  • Direct import- if you want to save money or get a car in good condition, you can import your car. Importing will help save up to 20% as compared to buying from local dealers. Additionally, the possibility of getting one in good condition is higher as opposed to buying locally used vehicles. On the other hand, the risk of losing money is higher since you are transacting with someone abroad, above that, you will have to wait for your vehicle for up to two months. See a full guide on importing your car here.
  • From dealers- In Kenya, there are different dealers in major towns like Mombasa, Kisumu, Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, Thika, etc. The good thing with dealers is that you get the car instantly and if it is secondhand from abroad, it might be in a better condition than the locally used. However, cars from dealers come at slightly higher prices. One common misconception is that cars without number plates from dealers are new, that is not always true. You can check common advice to avoid when buying a car.
  • Direct owners- you can also buy a locally used car from the owner. These cars are usually at affordable prices. However, one should be careful not to but problems, some owners will sell a car when it gets problematic. Although most will sell to upgrade or to solve a financial problem.

While you can meet and contact dealers or sellers online, it is always advisable to meet them physically and only transact with them when you have a certain they are legit as we will see in the next step below.

4. Steps on the purchase stage of the car

You have decided your budget, you also have the car you want and where to get it. The next thing will be to make the purchase, we will see what you should do during the purchase. The import process is slightly different and we would recommend you to go through our detailed import guide if your option is getting your car from abroad.

Purchase your car

Here are the things you should do when buying a car in Kenya:

  • If you met the seller/dealer online, make sure you meet them physically. The place of meeting should be in an open public place for a direct owner and in the office for a dealer
  • For a locally owned secondhand car, make sure you do a vehicle search on the NTSA portal to be certain that you are dealing with the owner
  • Never pay in cash, instead, pay only through the bank
  • When transacting make sure you sign an agreement
  • However, before signing there are things you should do:
      • Verify the documentation, the engine number and chassis number should be similar to the numbers in the logbook
      • Involve a lawyer or two witnesses especially while buying a secondhand car
      • Inspect the car and make sure it is in good condition. The engine, exterior and interior should all be in good condition
      • Take the car for a road test
      • It is also recommended to use a reputable mechanic to do the inspection on your behalf
      • Never transact with anyone who doesn’t have a logbook or claims that the logbook is with the first owner of the car
  • After you are done with the transaction, for a secondhand car, you should proceed to transfer ownership to you together with the previous owner. This should be done in a cybercafe.

The above steps will help you as you get your vehicle in Kenya! We wish you all the best as you buy your car. Cheers!!


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