Author: Croton Motors

The WRC Safari Rally is Back in Kenya- Dates and Routes for the Safari Rally Kenya 2021

Photo Courtesy of Toyota Gazoo Racing

After 19 long years, the World Rally Championship, fondly known as the Safari Rally, is back on Kenyan soil! Here is the scoop on the WRC Safari Rally 2021 dates, drivers, route, cars, and much more.

The Safari Rally was slotted to make a comeback in Kenya between 16th-19th July 2020. Unfortunately, it was postponed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The WRC Safari Rally is now scheduled for 24th-27th June 2021, across Kenya’s scenic Great Rift Valley.

A Brief History of the Safari Rally in Kenya

The first Safari Rally was first held in Kenya on 1st June 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. Then, it was known as the East African Coronation Safari before being renamed The East African Safari Rally in 1960. The inaugural rally saw 57 drivers event transverse Kenya, Uganda, and the then Tanganyika. In 1974, it was renamed the Safari Rally and awarded a World Rally Championship status.

Sadly, in 2002, the World Racing Championship dropped the Safari Rally from its calendar due to security issues, poor organization, and finance constraints. 

Consequently, it run as the KCB Safari Rally from 2003-2019, another period dominated by Kenyan wins.

In November 2017, Kenya Gazetted the Safari Rally Project and applied to return to the WRC. This request was granted, and an agreement between the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, FIA, and the WRC Promoter was signed in France. Consequently, FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) returned the Kenya Safari Rally to the World Rally Championship calendar in 2019.

Joginder Singh, and his brother Jaswant win the 1965 Safari Rally in a Volvo PV 544. Photo Courtesy Volvocars.com

WRC Safari Rally Kenya Route & Itinerary- Where to Catch the Action!

Kenya will host the 2021 World Rally Championship between 24th-27th June 2021.

This adventure of a lifetime will see the world’s best rally drivers transverse Kenya’s beautiful Rift Valley, from Lake Naivasha to Lake Elementaita, with the grand finish at the iconic Hell’s Gate National Park.

The official service park for the rally will be the KWS Training Institute in Naivasha. This year’s race will be a throw down between 58 cars in 18 special stages and 320.19KM of competitive distance.

Safari Rally 2021 Route & Itinerary

Here is everything you need to know about the routes, times and itinerary for the 2021 Safari Rally:

Monday 21st June 2021- Administrative checks & reconnaissance

The Safari Rally drivers will conduct administrative checks at the KWS Training Institute in Naivasha in the morning hours. At 11 am, they will begin reconnaissance which will continue until the afternoon of 23rd June.

What is reconnaissance? –Reconnaissance is when rally drivers run through the racecourse (using a standard car) and prepare pace notes to guide them during the actual race. During recce, the driver calls out the road conditions, turns, bumps, etc., while the co-driver writes them down. They then refer to these notes when racing.

Wait- they can do that?

Reconnaissance is an internationally accepted practice, and the WRC allows it. In the past, it was not allowed, and in most cases, the rally routes were kept secret to the last minute. The drivers had to rely entirely on maps to guide them.

Some rallies prepare what is called ‘route notes’ in place of recce. These notes give the drivers an idea of the course that they will run.

Wednesday 23rd June 2021

From 1 pm, the Safari Rally drivers will conduct shakedown within the breathtaking Ndulele Conservancy. The shakedown route will be 5.10km long and is open to all drivers but compulsory for priority one drivers.

Way ahead of you……

Shakedown is when the rally drivers test their race cars in a terrain similar to that of the race before the actual race. Competitors must drive through the shakedown route at least three times with their passes timed.

After the shakedown the race cars will be transported via lorries to Nairobi.

Photo Courtesy: Geoff Mayes/ Dirtfish

Thursday, 24th June 2021

7:30 am– The competitors will conduct reconnaissance at the Kasarani Spectator Stage 1.

11:00 am– The race cars will arrive at the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) for a press conference and a ceremonial start.

12:46 pm – H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta will flag off the cars.

SS1- 2:08 pm- After 19 years, the Safari Rally will take place in Kenya when the rally drivers take on the first Leg at the specially built super stage at Kasarani. After this section, they will head straight to KWS Naivasha via A104.

1st Leg Friday 25th June 2021- Safari Rally 2021 starts in earnest with the special stages

What are special stages (SS)?

Special stages are the competitive sections of the rally. These stages are of a set length, and rally drivers must drive through each in the quickest time possible. In a special stage, each competitor starts at a set time. The special stages may be on public or private roads. Where they fall on public roads, the roads are closed when the rally is in progress. In some cases, the special stages are linked by public roads, and in these instances, the drivers must observe all traffic rules.

SS2- Chui Lodge: 8.20AM, 13.34Km

The 1st Leg of the Safari Rally will start at the Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy with the 13.34Km long Chui Lodge stretch.

SS3- Kedong 9:05AM, 32.68Km

Kedong is not new to hosting the safari rally, having hosted it for years. However, the course has a new layout for this year’s rally with two large spectator areas- one at the Lake and the other adjacent to Longonot.

SS4- Oserian 1- 10:18AM, 18.87Km

Oserian is quite different from the Chui Lodge stage with a different surface and dense vegetation.

SS5-Chui Lodge 2 13:46 Pm, 13.34Km

This stage will be a repeat of SS2 in the Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy.

SS6- Kedong 2 14:42Pm, 32.68Km

Kedong is not new to hosting the safari rally, having hosted it for years. However, the course has a new layout for this year’s rally with two large spectator areas- one at the Lake and the other adjacent to Longonot.

SS7-Oserian 2 15:55 pm, 18.87Km

The competitors will be back to the dense vegetation at Oserian for the last stage of the day. The crew will be allowed 45 minutes of car service at KWS Naivasha to prepare for the next day’s race.

2nd Leg Saturday 26th June 2021

SS8- Elementaita 1, 8:08AM, 14.67Km

This part of the race will take the race drivers to the Soysambu Conservancy in the Delamere Estate, a popular rally track with a few new sections.

SS9 Soysambu 1, 9:08 am, 20.33Km

This will be the WRC Live TV stage. It will feature a large spectator and hospitality area, giving people a chance to get up close with the race cars. The spectator areas will be at the beginning and end areas of the race.

SS10 Sleeping Warrior 1 10:22AM, 31.04Km

This will be the longest stage of the day and will see the race will see the drivers crisscross the Sleeping Warrior plains.  The drivers will have a tough time navigating the rocky surface laden with coarse lava.

SS11 Elementaita 2 14:05Pm, 14.67KM

This stage is a repeat of SS8, which will take the race drivers to the Soysambu Conservancy in the Delamere Estate.

SS12 Soysambu 2 15:08 Pm, 20.33Km

This will be the WRC Live TV stage. It will feature a large spectator and hospitality area, giving people a chance to get up close with the race cars. There will be a spectator area at the beginning of the race and at the end.

SS13 Sleeping Warrior 2 16:22Pm, 31.04Km

Another long stretch that will wind up the 132.08Km Leg. Crews will be allowed 45 minutes of car service at Naivasha KWS.

3rd Leg Sunday, 27th June 2021

SS14 Loldia 17:56 Am, 11.33Km

This stage will take the competitors to a wooded forest area with narrow sections similar to the safari rally of old.

SS15 Hell’s Gate 1 8:38 am, 10.56KM

The competitors will race at the iconic Hell’s Gate National Park

SS16 Malewa 10:45 am, 9.71Km

This will be challenging, rocky, and hilly with sharp 90 degree turns, compounded by the loose surface. Drivers will have the challenge of preserving their tires for the final power stage.

SS17- Loldia 2 11.25 –11.33kms

A repeat of the forested area with narrow sections similar to the safari rally of old.

SS18 Hell’s Gate 2 13:18 Pm, 11.33kms (Power Stage)

This is the power stage of the rally (final stage), and it will be in the breathtaking background of the scenic Hell’s Gate National Park. The finish line will be at the iconic Ficher’s Tower, giving spectators amazing views of the fight to the finish line.

WRC Safari Rally Kenya 2021 Top Drivers & Cars

WRC Champion Sebastien Ogier flies high at the Rally Italia in this photo. He is expected to lead the pack at the Kenya Safari Rally 2021. Photo courtesy Toyota Gazoo Racing.

The 2021 Safari Rally has attracted top crews from the World Rallying Championship, including WRC 2, WRC3, and private entries. Leading the pack is recent WRC Italia Rally Sardegna Champion Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in a Toyota Yaris.

Top 2021 Rally Drivers. Info courtesy of Wikipedia

The race will have an unprecedented 34 Kenyan entrants, including:

Some of the Kenyan drivers at the 2021 Safari Rally. Info courtesy of Wikipedia.

How did the idea of the Kenya Safari Rally come about? A Look at its History

The Safari Rally was the brainchild of Eric Cecil (1919-2010). Cecil was a car race enthusiast and the then chairman of the Competition Committee of the East African Automobile Association (EAAA). The story goes that in 1952, he was having a drink in Limuru with Neil Vincent, his cousin, and Eric Tomp, a friend.

They started discussing motorsports, including the racing track at Lunga Lunga in Nakuru. Vincent was an avid racer, having competed in the Nairobi-Johannesburg Road Race in October 1936. When asked why he never raced in Nakuru, he answered that he was not interested in ‘going round in circles’ on a racetrack. He, however, was open to a ‘race across Africa and back’ where the first driver would be declared the winner.

Cecil, the consummate racer, couldn’t stop thinking about it and came up with different racing ideas. Most were immediately discarded due to their perceived difficulty. Yet, he needed to come up with something that would truly test man and machine. Unfortunately, when he approached the EAAA with the idea of a rally, he was promptly dismissed as having ‘crazy cowboy ideas.’

As fate would have it, in 1952, the then Princess Elizabeth was staying at the Treetops Lodge in Nyeri when she received news of her father’s death. This immediately elevated her to Queen. Cecil took advantage of this situation and requested the EAAA to allow motoring enthusiasts to mark the coronation with a ‘long distance event’. The EAAA relented, given that Kenya was a British Colony and such an event would be of importance.

However, Cecil did not officially receive any financial support but managed to secure sponsorship from the East African Standard Newspaper and Shell Oil. The race was 5,160km long and took place between 27th May and 1st June 1953. The first Leg was between Nairobi- Morogoro – (Tanganyika) – Nairobi, while the second Leg was between Nairobi- Kampala-Nairobi.

Out of the 57 drivers who started the race, only 15 managed to finish.

Bert Shankland of Tanzania driving a Peugeot 404. He won in 1966/67. Photo courtesy www.safarirally.co.ke

The Safari Rally Grows in Earnest

After the inaugural Coronation Safari Rally, word started spreading among motor enthusiasts about the ‘toughest rally in the world.’ The race began getting media attention, notably when a team of British motorists joined in 1959. In 1960, it was filmed for British Television, and this gave it much prominence.

When it received international status, it started attracting manufacturer teams from all over the world. While VW Beetle dominated the race in the 50s, other makers such as Ford, Peugeot, and Mercedes joined the fray in the 60s.

Now renamed the East African Safari, for 14 years, the rally took place between Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. For close to two decades, the international drivers returned home empty-handed as local drivers stole the show each time. This changed in 1972 when Finnish Hannu Mikkola and Gunnal Palm lifted the trophy in a Ford Escort RS1600.

Kenya’s Most Popular Safari Rally Drivers

Kenyans, and indeed East Africans, remember the Safari Rally with nostalgia. Each Easter holiday bought the spectators out to watch the rally cars roar by. Given that April is a long rain season in Kenya, the rally drivers had to contend with heavy rain and muddy roads.

Things got exciting, particularly when Kenyan drivers such as Shekha Mehta,  Joginder Singh, Vic Preston, Patrick Njiru, and Ian Duncan roared by. Joginder Singh first won the race in 1965 in a Volvo PV 544. He then won twice again in 1974 and 1976 in a Mitsubishi Lancer 1600 GSR. Shekha Meta first won his Safari Rally in 1973 in a Datsun 240Z, but things got to fever pitch after winning four times in a row, between 1979-1982.

Shekha Mehta won the Safari Rally a record four times in a row. Photo courtesy www.safarirally.co.ke

Unfortunately, after Shekha Meta’s last win in 1984, Kenya, which had dominated the race for years, would go without a win for the next 11 years until Ian Duncan and David Williamson lifted the trophy in 1994. In the same year, Patrick Njiru and Abdul Sidi came in 4th, the highest ever ranking for an indigenous Kenyan driver. Even then, spectators were treated to exciting times from popular names such as Juha Kankunnen, Bjorn Waldegard, Tommi Mackinnen, and Carloz Sainz.

The end of an Era

The Safari Rally has undergone significant changes since its birth in 1953. In 1973, Uganda was experiencing political turmoil occasioned by a military coup, so it pulled out. By 1974, the relationship between Tanzania and Kenya had become frosty, and Tanzania dropped out. The rally was then renamed the Kenya Safari Rally.

Sadly, in 2002, the World Racing Championship dropped the Safari Rally from its list due to security issues, poor organization, and finance constraints. 

Consequently, it run as the KCB Safari Rally from 2003-2019, another period dominated by Kenyan wins.

2021 is the year that changes it all as the World Rally Championship makes a comeback on Kenyan soil from 23rd-27th June 2021.

Do You Know How Road Markings Came to Be? A Brief History of their Origin

The smooth Marsabit- Moyale Road in Northern Kenya

As you drive on the roads every day, carefully keeping to your lane, do you ever wonder why there are white or yellow lines separating traffic? It may be rather obvious why they are there, but where did they come from, and how long have they been in existence?

Well, articles online infer that road markings go as far back as the Ancient Roman Empire! In the beginning, they were in the shape of vertical stones used as milestones to show distance from Rome. But the history of road markings is deeper than that.

According to The History Guy, the earliest apparent road marking can be traced back to 1300 AD in Rome. During the Jubilee Years Catholic celebrations, over 200,000 people assembled in the ancient city. Pope Boniface the 8th had a line painted in the middle of each road in Rome- not to show the direction of traffic, but type. As such, horses and carts were on one side while foot traffic was on the other. Fast forward to the advent of the automobile in the 19th Century.

Surprisingly, Europe led in the race to the automobile and had more cars than the USA. But by 1907, Henry Ford had changed the game with the automobile assembly line. By 1917, cars had replaced horses as the primary mode of travel. Faster cars were also manufactured, while paved roads became more commonplace.  

But this came with a new set of problems that had not been anticipated before, such as road accidents. Suddenly, people using wagons and buggies had to contend with speeding motor vehicles. Smaller cars had to fight for space with larger trucks. Clearly, some kind of order was needed. It was these and similar issues that birthed the idea of delineating lanes in the United States.

In 1911, Edward N. Hines, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Roads in Michigan is said to have been driving behind a lorry dripping milk. The dripping milk gave him the idea of drawing a white line in the middle of the road to delineate the lanes. This story is plausible because Edward Haines was a major road safety buff who is also credited with building the first stretch of concrete road in 1909. He went on to win several awards for his contribution to road design and safety.

In late 1917, Dr. June McCaroll was driving her model T Ford along the Indo Boulevard in California when she made a sharp bend and came face to face with a huge truck. The truck had occupied all the road and she had only a split second to swerve to her right or get into a head on collision with the truck. The incident shook her badly, but it also gave her the idea of painting a line in the middle of the road as a safety measure.

Dr. June McCaroll

Excited, she presented the idea to the local chamber of commerce. Unfortunately, they shot her down, but she wasn’t one to give up easily. So she bought some paint and a paintbrush, got down on her knees, and painted a two-mile-long line down the middle of the Indo Boulevard. She was convinced that once the board members saw how much sense the line made, they would adopt it. Boy, was she wrong!

Dr. McCaroll spent the next seven years campaigning, writing letters, and petitioning the authorities to adopt the idea of a central line on the roads. Thankfully she never gave up, and in 1924, the State Highway Commissions started marking center lines in all the roads in California. For her persistence, the California Department of Transportation credits her with the idea of delineating lanes. Today, the stretch of road that she first painted is now named The Doctor June McCarroll Memorial Freeway.

In the United Kingdom, the first white central line marking appeared in 1918. However, the lines were purely indicative at that time, showing drivers how much road they had to work with. Although many roads were now marked, it was only in 1926 that the markings were recognized officially as road safety protocol and their regulations put in place.  

Other than keeping traffic in the correct lanes, the function of the white lines expanded and was now used to show drivers where to stop. In the UK, yellow lines appeared in the 1950s and dashed lines in 1956. Even more road markings and signs continued to emerge into the 60s as cars increased on the roads and more safety precautions became necessary.

Kenya, being a British Colony, naturally inherited the British system of marking roads. Of course, road markings, which are commonplace now, took a good while to appear. Even then, our roads have come a long way since the first road was tarmacked road in 1922.  

6 Things to Consider When Buying Your First Car in Kenya

 

Congratulations on making the decision to buy your first car! Without a doubt, this is an exciting time. Perhaps you have just gotten your first job, or you have reached a place where a car is now a necessity. Whichever the case, buying a car, while a memorable time, can also be daunting.

With hundreds of models to choose from, where do you even start? You may have your dream model in mind, but your budget might not agree. Do you buy a car locally or import one from Japan? These are some of the decisions you have to make. Luckily, you don’t have to do this alone. Below, we have given you our best tips to help you plan as you buy your first car.

Evaluate your needs honestly

There is a good reason you feel that this is the right time to buy your first car. Perhaps you are finally making some good money, and you want the freedom and independence that a car brings. Maybe you have started a family, and moving from point A to B with kids has become tricky. Perhaps your new employer is offering you an affordable loan for a car. Or maybe you can no longer keep up with the hectic matatu scene, and you need a car to get to work every day.

All these are valid reasons for wanting to buy a car, and they should also form the basis of what to buy. Understanding why you need the vehicle will take you a step closer to purchasing the right one. Remember, a car, while convenient, is an added expense.

Think about Vehicle Utility

Another important factor to consider as you decide on a car is utility. In other words, will the car serve you as you need? If work in an area with poor roads, can it hold it’s own from point A to point B? For example, a Toyota Auris might be cost friendly, but can it take 20 kilometers of dilapidated roads every day? Perhaps you have a farm, and you transport vegetables to the market regularly. In this case you may need a Pick Up, or a vehicle with a spacious boot/ trunk. If you are the adventurous type and you enjoy family outings, camping and road trips, you may need a spacious SUV with 4*4 capabilities. Thinking about how you will use a car will help you choose one that gives you the right utility.

Decide on a budget & method of financing

This may be the most significant factor to consider when buying your first car. How much do you want to spend, and where is it coming from? Are you buying it from your savings, a bank loan, or a combination of both? You may find it more practical to set a budget range and then decide on an acceptable vehicle within that range. We all have that dream car that we would want but may not afford as a first car. After evaluating your needs, income, access to finance, and expenses, you will develop a logical budget for a vehicle.

Do  you want to buy locally or import from Japan?

One of the first questions to ask yourself is- do you want to import a car or buy one locally? There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Importing from Japan gives you a chance to be the first owner of a clean, low mileage vehicle. The downside is that the importation process takes up to two months, so you would have to be patient. Buying a car already in Kenya means that you can drive off with it in as little as a few days when you find the right fit. Here is an article with more information on importing vs. buying locally.  After you have made a decision, the next step is to find a suitable make and model.

Explore your options

Armed with a budget and an understanding of what you need, you can now begin looking at various models that fall within your range. You can easily search for cars online or visit local showrooms in Nairobi to get an idea of the price range. The Sunday car bazaar at the Nairobi showground is another place where you can compare car models, check out the interior, engine and ask questions to understand the car better. Most car dealers will be able to give you several options for cars that fall within your budget. They will also advise you on cost implications for importing so that you can make a comparison.

Understand associated costs

With the excitement of buying a car, you may overlook some of the associated costs that will inevitably build up with time. For example, if you get a loan from the bank or your employer, you will be repaying monthly with interest. As you consider your budget, this is one of the things that you should factor in. Before you walk out of a showroom with your car, you will need to get car insurance, and we advise that you buy comprehensive insurance. Other associated costs include fuel and regular maintenance service.

Looking for expert advice as you buy your first car?

Are you in the market for your first car but you are still not sure what to buy? Are you wondering whether you should buy locally or import? Our sales team at Croton Motors is ready to answer all your questions and help you make a decision that you will be happy with. Contact us today, our visit our showroom along Karen Road.

8 Emergency Essentials You Should Have in Your Car at all Times

 

There is an endless list of items you could have in your car, depending on your needs and preferences. But how many of these can come in handy in an emergency? Whether you are visiting relatives in Nyeri or Kisumu, going on a road trip to the Masai Mara, or your usual town run, there are emergency essentials that you must have in your car at all times.

Emergency essentials are items that come in handy in case of unforeseen obstacles such as car trouble. Their role is to get you back on the road again as quickly as possible.

Here are 8 emergency essentials you should have in your call at all times:

Spare Tire

One of the most likely hiccups you will get on the road is a flat tire. Kenyan roads can be rough, particularly if you are going off the beaten path.  You should therefore carry a well-inflated spare tire at all times. In recent times, most car models, particularly SUVs such as the Rav 4 are coming without a spare tire as standard equipment. Instead, they have a tire repair kit. If you drive long distances and have space, it may be advisable to invest in a spare tire for your vehicle.

 

Jack & Lug Wrench

Of course, having a spare tire won’t solve your problem if you don’t have a jack and lug wrench. The jack is a lifting device that helps you raise the level of your vehicle to enable tire changing. The lug wrench is used to loosen/tighten the nuts on the wheels. Occasionally, your nuts may be rusty or too tight, in which case it may help to carry a bottle of WD40 to lubricate and loosen them.

 

Jumper Cables

A flat battery happens even to the best of us when we least expect it. Ensure that you have a pair of jumper cables in your trunk. Trust me; it is much easier to ask for help from a passing driver when you have your own jumpers.

Side note: Check on your jumper cables now and then to ensure that they are in good working order. In my experience, they do tend to get rusty and, eh, useless.

 

Life Savers

If you are lucky, your car will give you some sort of warning before it stalls for whatever reason. This may give you a chance to park safely on the side of the road. If you don’t have this luxury and stalls right in the middle of the road, you will need life savers/ warning triangles. Reflective metal triangles are designed to warn other drivers that there is a stalled car ahead. They should therefore be placed at a safe distance on both sides of the vehicle.  

First Aid Kit

A well-equipped first aid kit is necessary to nurse emergency cuts, burns, and scrapes, in case of an accident. Its main purpose is to manage the emergency as you wait for medical help or make your way to a hospital.

Torch

 

A torch is one of the most practical items you can keep in your car.  If your car stalls or breaks down during the night, a torch can come in handy as you take a look under the bonnet, connect jumper cables or change a tire. Similarly, it can help you signal to oncoming traffic about a stalled car, keeping you safe. Because you don’t know how long you may need to use the torch, keep a pair of fresh batteries in the glove compartment.

Duct tape

You will be surprised at how versatile duct tape can be. If you have been in a minor accident and your lights or side mirrors have been broken, duct tape can hold them together long enough to get to your mechanic. Basically, duct tape can hold together almost any car part, including the bonnet, doors, and even the bumper. It will even seal any unexpected leaks until you get help.

Water

A bottle of water will come in handy in case you experience a radiator emergency. Your car may overheat for various reasons. The coolant may be low, or the cooling system may be faulty. Whatever the reason, use water to cool off your engine. This will buy you time to get to your destination or a garage.

What is the Catalytic Converter and Why are Thieves after It?

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise in different parts of the world, including major cities in Kenya.

Move over spare tires; there is a new attraction for car thieves in town.

Recently, the catalytic converter has become somewhat of a holy grail. As a vehicle owner, you may already know about this gadget, or you are hearing about it for the first time. Everywhere around the world, including here in Kenya, catalytic converter theft is suddenly on the rise. So, what is it, and why is it in such demand?

What is a catalytic converter, and what does it do?

The catalytic converter is a ‘metal box’ found under your car between the engine and the muffler as a part of the exhaust system. Its primary role is to clean up the harmful gas emissions produced when the vehicle runs, turning them into harmless gases such as Co2 and water vapor.

To do this, the catalytic converter uses chemicals called catalysts. These catalysts are coated on the converters’ honeycomb’ interior. Their job is to break down the molecular structure of the harmful gases being released by the engine, thus ‘cleaning’ them up as they are released into the atmosphere.

If you wonder why this clean-up is necessary, think of Limuru on a cold, foggy morning. Now imagine Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and other major cities filled with such fog, only this time its pollution being emitted by cars. This kind of smog would quickly become harmful to man and the environment.

Why do thieves steal the catalytic converter?

This brings us to the problem. Remember the catalysts that are used to breakdown harmful gasses? They not your ordinary catalysts but precious metals such as palladium, rhodium and platinum. Imagine that. As stricter car emissions are rolled out worldwide, the demand for these metals has gone up, and so have the prices.

Five years ago, 28g of palladium cost $500. In 2021 it has jumped to $2000-2500, higher than the price of gold. Rhodium is estimated to be retailing at 12 times the price of gold. While this jump in prices can be attributed to the increased production of electric cars, it is nevertheless fueling a vibrant black market of stolen catalytic converters.

The COVID 19 pandemic has not helped matters either. Rhodium is mainly mined in South Africa, and with the pandemic slowing everything down, supply has  gone down, raising demand.

Of course, if your catalytic converter is stolen in Nairobi or Mombasa, it is likely to be sold to a scrap yard for much less than its worth.

Fun Fact- The Ferrari F430 carries around not one, but two of the most expensive catalytic converters in the market. Each goes for a mind popping $3,770!

Will I know that my catalytic converter has been stolen?

Unfortunately, you may not realize that your vehicle’s catalytic converter has been stolen. For starters, it is located under the car, so you are unlikely to look there. Industry experts say that you will notice a ‘different roaring sound’ when you start a vehicle with a missing catalytic converter. This sound may get louder or sputter as you accelerate, and generally, the drive will not be as smooth as usual.   

Can I drive my car without a catalytic converter?

Technically, yes. A missing catalytic converter will not interfere with your driving. Newer models may activate the engine light to signify something is wrong when the system doesn’t detect it.

In most developed countries, driving without a catalytic converter is an offense due to the harmful emissions that a vehicle produces without it. Here in Kenya, NEMA regulations stipulate that ‘No person shall cause or allow the emission of visible air pollutants from a stationary or mobile vehicle in excess of the limits set out under the prescribed Standard.’

Similarly, through KEBS, Kenya has adopted the Euro 4 Emission directives, which seek to limit the emission of harmful gases like carbon monoxide by vehicles.

Going forward, the catalytic converter will become even more critical, particularly for the environment.

Which cars are at the most risk for catalytic converter theft?

There are no statistics in Kenya showing which vehicles are at most risk for catalytic converter theft. Going by international trends, hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius and Lexus RX are at the most risk. This is because hybrid cars run less on fuel, so their catalytic converters are less eroded and contain more precious metals.

It is important to note that most thefts are acts of opportunity. To steal a catalytic converter, a thief has to crawl under your car. Unless someone has targeted your car because it is a hybrid, for the most part, a thief will strike when they see a chance.

This makes it easier to steal from SUVs, trucks, and pickups as they are generally higher than small sedans. Theft can also be influenced by where you park your car. If you leave it for long periods in a poorly lit area or in a basement, chances for theft are higher.

How can I protect my catalytic converter from being stolen?

You can do some things to protect your catalytic converter from being stolen, or if not, make it as difficult as possible.

Remember, thieves can remove a catalytic converter in under five minutes and less if they are experienced.

  • Have your mechanic weld it to the car’s frame. This won’t make it impossible to steal, but it will definitely make it harder.
  • Where possible, park your car in a well-lit area, near entrances, and in the vicinity of CCTV cameras.
  • Have your car serviced in a garage that you trust
  • Consider installing an alarm that can detect vibration in the car

 

 

6 Things You Should Do After a Road Accident in Kenya

Car accident in Nairobi Kenya

 

Road accidents happen, even to the most careful drivers. Unfortunately, in Kenya, major and minor road accidents are continually on the rise. According to the NTSA, there was a 5.8% increase in road accident fatalities in Kenya by October 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

Causes of road accidents in Kenya include poor roads, unroadworthy vehicles, flouting of traffic rules, over speeding, incompetent drivers, drunk driving, and weak enforcement of road rules, among other factors.  

Perhaps you have wondered what steps you should take if, God forbid, you found yourself in a car accident.  Whether it’s a serious accident or a minor fender bender, there are specific steps that you should take.

This article outlines 5 things you should do immediately after a car accident in Kenya.

1. Check yourself and your passengers for any injuries

Depending on the extent of the accident, the first thing you should do is to check yourself and any passengers for injuries. If you are seriously injured, try not to move as you wait for help. If you can ask bystanders for help or call a family member or/and the police. If it is a minor accident with damage only to the car, move away from the road to a safe place.

2. Remain at the scene of the accident

Whether it is a minor or major accident, do not attempt to drive away even if you are in the wrong. Leaving the scene of an accident is an offence under Kenyan traffic laws. Instead, call or wait for the police to arrive at the scene for processing. Switch off your car engine and put out lifesavers at a safe distance to warn other drivers of the accident.

Temperatures may run high at the scene of an accident, particularly if one party is clearly in the wrong. Avoid taking any rash action as this can make things worse. Although it may sound easier said than done, try to calm down as you wait for the police to arrive.

3. Exchange information

As you wait for the police or in their presence, exchange information with the other party, if possible. This includes names, contacts, car registration, make, model and color, driver’s license number, and insurance information. Establish if the other driver is the owner of the car or not. Collecting such information is helpful as your insurance company will rely on these details in ascertaining fault and processing your claim.

4. Document the accident

When the police arrive, they will carry out an initial investigation and write out a report. Write down the police officers’ names and badge numbers. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and of the cars from different angles, showing the extent of the damage and license plates. You may also speak to witnesses for any extra information that you may have missed. Note down any relevant details about the accident as this may be helpful later on. This includes things like weather conditions, road marks, the other driver’s actions, etc. Ensure that you get a copy of the police accident report as soon as it’s ready.

5. Notify your insurance company

You should notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible, perhaps even while still at the scene. This way, they will advise you on what is needed and the next steps in filing your claim. Your insurance policy provides for legal representation, and where necessary your insurance company will engage a lawyer in case of legal liabilities.

6. Move the cars from the scene

After the police have taken down all the necessary information about an accident, they will ask you to move your cars from the scene, possibly to the nearest police station. If your vehicles are movable, and you are in a condition to, you will be asked to drive them. If the cars are undrivable, you or the police may request for a tow truck to tow them away. If your car is comprehensively insured, and depending on the specific benefits, your insurance company will reimburse the cost of towing up to an agreed limit. Otherwise, you will have to pay for the tow truck out of pocket.

What NOT to do after a car accident in Kenya!

  • Do not run away/ drive off. If there is a threat to you, drive to a safe place or to the nearest police station.
  • Report the accident to the police and get a police abstract, no matter how minor it is.
  • Accidents can be emotional, especially if you are not in the wrong. Please do not punch or insult the other driver. Sorting things peacefully will be much faster!
  • It may be a Kenyan thing, but, unless the damage is very minor, do not ‘visually’ access the damage and exchange money with the other driver without a professional consultation. Your vehicle may need more repairs than you get paid for on the spot, leaving you to go back to your pocket.
  • Notify your insurance company about the accident, even if you don’t plan to make a claim. This is important because the other party can turn around and report the accident, blaming you for it,  even after you have worked it out on the spot. You then find yourself time barred from making a claim with your insurer.
  • Okay, goes without saying but, please do not bribe a cop to let you go (or to change the facts). Let us fix this nation one incidence at a time!
  • Do NOT ignore symptoms like nausea, headache or pain even if you are not visibly hurt. Please consult a doctor to rule out internal injuries even if you feel fine.

The 5 Greatest Car Care Sins You are Committing- And How to Redeem Yourself

 

Have you ever come across the saying that ‘if you love something, it will love you back in whatever way it has to love?’

This saying is especially true when it comes to our cars. Basically, a car is a workhorse. It faithfully ferries you to and from work, on errands, and wherever else you want to go. In return, all it asks for is some love and care. Unfortunately, we don’t always keep our end of the bargain in this relationship. This not only punishes the car but can lead to unnecessary losses later on.

In this article, we outline 7 of the greatest car care sins you are committing and how you can redeem yourself.

1. Irregular Cleaning

Some people are obsessed with cleaning their cars, and kudos to them. Then there are those who go on and on without bathing their car. This is not only unsightly, but dirt, air-borne pollutants, bugs, bird shit, and mud can damage the paint and dull your car’s finish.

How often you wash your car will depend on several factors. For instance, if you use it to ferry vegetables from the market every day, you may need to wash it a couple of times a week. If you only use it to get to the office, you may clean it once in two weeks.  Other factors such as the type of road you use, how far you drive, and the weather may also influence how often you need to wash your car.

Washing your car doesn’t have to be an expensive affair. You can actually clean it at home (fun activity to do with kids) or take it to the neighborhood car wash. We all know that in Nairobi, you will find a car wash for 200 bob or one for 1000 bob depending on where you go, and your budget. Aim to do a thorough general cleaning every few months.

 

2. Littering

If you are a parent with small children, it is possible that after the end of a long trip, your car will resemble a mini trash can. Think half-eaten bananas to potato crisps wrappers and empty water bottles. If this happens, aim to clean the car immediately after the trip. Don’t wait to look for an elusive smell of something ‘strange’ a week later!

Similarly, every day littering of one item at a time can accumulate over the week. Always carry out trash with you when you get out of the car. Another way of mitigating this is by investing in a bin that can be placed behind the front seats. You can also carry a disposable bag in the glove compartment to make trash collection and clean up easier.

We are advocating that you don’t leave trash in your car, but we don’t mean that you throw it out your window! You all have seen  the guy in front who goes littering all the way home, throwing out banana peels and pet water bottles with careless abandon. As suggested, invest in a bin, or use a disposable bag to carry your trash home. Let us care for our cars, but also for the environment.

 

3. Sun exposure

There are months of the year when the sun can be brutal. Imagine how much damage the sun’s UV rays make on our skin and the lengths we go to protect ourselves. Now think of your car, out there in the sun, day in day out. It may not always be possible to park under a shade, particularly in towns such as Nairobi. However, the sun does not only damage the exterior of the car but the interior as well. The dashboard, leather seats, and other plastic surfaces can age prematurely due to overexposure to the sun. This can affect your car’s resale value and aesthetics.

To redeem yourself of this sin, cover your car’s plastic surfaces, particularly the dashboard area, with a sun protector. Aim to apply protectants to the leather and vinyl surfaces occasionally to keep them in tip-top shape.

 

4. Ignoring dents and scratches

If you have driven on the somewhat chaotic Kenyan roads, your car may have a few scratches and dents to show for it.  Between our crazy matatu culture and all those bodabodas, it may be hard to escape unscathed. What is unacceptable and a major sin is ignoring these dents and scratches like they are not there!

No matter how cool your car is, a dent immediately makes it appear old and ugly. But the good news is, most dents and scratches can be repaired with easy DIY (do it yourself) hacks.

For example, if the dent does not have a crack in it, use a toilet plunger to suck it right out! Alternatively, pour hot water over it and see it pop right back to shape. If you have a scratch that is not too deep in, rub it over with toothpaste using a damp cloth. If these hacks don’t work, it means that the damage is too deep, and you may need to call in a professional.

 

 

5. Skipping car service

Do you remember that episode of Big Bang Theory where Penny and Sheldon are driving together in her car, and he points out that her check engine light is on? ‘Oh, I have been meaning to put gum on that,’ she responded.

Haha. Some of us are a little like Penny. We know the rules. The manufacturers recommend that we service our cars every 10,000kms, or six months, whichever comes first. And some of us faithfully do it.

It is the rest of us that are committing grave sin number five. We imagine that since we don’t hear any ‘funny’ noises or see any warning lights on the dashboard, all is well. While it may be well in the short term, it could end up costing you significantly in the long run in case of any mechanical failures.

To redeem yourself, service your car regularly as required. Don’t wait six months to do the basics like changing engine oil and replacing air and oil filters.

Remember, when you love your car, it will love you right back and serve you faithfully!

A Comprehensive Guide to Car Insurance in Kenya

 

An insurance cover is one of the most significant considerations you will make when you import a car or buy one locally. Car insurance is a legal requirement mandated by Chapter 405 of the Kenya Traffic Act. This Act requires that any car being driven on Kenyan roads have a minimum of a third-party insurance cover.

Besides meeting a legal requirement, an insurance cover provides various levels of protection to the insured and other road users in the event of an accident. Of course, no one buys a car thinking I will be hit or hit another car. However, the reality is that accidents happen, resulting in car damages, bodily injuries, or even death. According to the  NTSA road accidents are on the rise. In 2020, for instance, there were 3,114 deaths on Kenyan roads, up by 5.8% compared to 2019.

As such, car insurance is essential as it protects you from financial liability in the event of an accident. However, the type of protection that your insurance company offers will depend on the type of insurance cover that you take out for your car.

What types of car insurance covers are there in Kenya?

In Kenya, there are three main types of car insurance covers. These are:

  • Third-party insurance
  • Third-party, fire, and theft
  • Comprehensive insurance

Let us look at each of these types of insurance in-depth:

Third-Party Insurance

Third-party insurance offers you the most basic protections in the event of an accident. As mentioned, it is the most basic insurance cover required by Kenyan Traffic Law. It covers any damages/ injury/death caused by the insured (you) to the other party.

This means that if you have third party insurance and get into an accident, the insurance will only pay for damages/ injuries caused to the other car/ party and not to yourself or your car.

Third-Party, Fire, and Theft

The third-party fire and theft insurance cover offers slightly more protection to the policyholder than the third-party cover. Besides covering the third party in an accident, it also protects your car from possible fire and theft. Before signing on the dotted line, find out from your insurance company precisely what fire and theft circumstances are covered.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance is the most extensive form of insurance coverage as it offers full protection to both parties in the case of an accident. Specifically, it offers third-party benefits, including damage, injuries, death, and legal liabilities arising from a car accident. It also covers damages to the insured vehicle caused by accident, natural calamities, floods, fire, or theft.

It is important to note that comprehensive insurance does not pay claims for injury or damage to the policyholder. It is recommended that you take out a separate insurance cover (such as a personal accident cover) for extra protection.

It is possible to have ‘add-ons’ to your comprehensive insurance, such as a Political Violence and Terrorism Cover and Excess Protector for Own Damage.

Which is the best insurance cover to get for my car?

The type of insurance that you get will depend on your budget and unique circumstances.

While comprehensive insurance will be the priciest, it will offer you the most benefits in case of an accident. With comprehensive insurance, you have peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to go back to your pocket if there are any accidents or incidents.

Third-party fire and theft offer you considerably more protection than a simple third- party cover. However, it is not common in the Kenyan market; perhaps not many people imagine their cars catching fire. On the other hand, theft is quite common, so this cover can come in quite handy in an unfortunate event. This type of insurance is also uncommon because the cost is not commensurate with its benefits.

The third-party cover offers you, the insured, no protection whatsoever and is akin to driving a ‘naked’ car. As explained, it only benefits the other party in case of an accident. Despite its limited protections, the third-party cover is the most common in the market, mainly due to its affordability.

How much does car insurance cost in Kenya?

An insurance cover cost depends on several factors, such as the type of car (private, commercial, PSV), market value, and age. For instance, most insurers in Kenya will not consider vehicles over 12 years old or those with a value of less than 300,000Kes for comprehensive insurance.

Cost of a third-party cover in Kenya

The third-party cover is the most affordable of the three options. Considering the factors listed above, it ranges from between 5,000kes- 7,500kes per annum for a private car.

Many insurance companies in Kenya will not offer a third party (TPO) to PSV chauffeur driven cars (taxis, Uber, Bolt). It is also mandatory for this category to have a passenger legal liability (PLL) cover for four passengers. On average, an annual PTO cover will cost around 9,500kes.

Insurance for commercial vehicles such as lorries, tippers, and trailers is calculated based on tonnage. On average, a TPO cover for a 30-ton vehicle starts from 25,000kes.

Cost of a comprehensive cover in Kenya

Comprehensive insurance offerings will vary from one insurer to the next. On average, insurance premium rates for a private car start from 3.2% of the car’s total value. This is in addition to training levy, policy holder’s compensation fund, and stamp duty payments.

For example, suppose you buy a Mazda CX5  worth 2.1 million Kes, and your insurance company is giving you a premium rate of 3.5%. In that case, you will pay a total premium of 74,880.75, according to a popular online motor insurance calculator.

If another insurer is offering a rate of 4.5% for the same car, then you would pay a total premium of 95,975.25.

In most cases, the premium percentage rate is negotiable, so do not hesitate to discuss with your insurer.

What exactly is covered by comprehensive insurance?

Other than the benefits mentioned above, your comprehensive insurance will also cover the following:

Windshield Limit- Windshield damage happens quite often on Kenyan roads. Your comprehensive cover provides a free windshield limit to cushion you against paying out of pocket. Most insurers will offer compensation from between 25-000-50,000kes per annum.  You should therefore confirm how much your windshield costs to ensure that you are adequately covered. If not, you can opt to purchase an extra windshield cover to bridge the difference.

Radio cassette limit– This benefit was popular when car radio cassette theft was high. Such crimes have fallen drastically, and this limit has lost its significance. That said, it is a free add-on that can still come in handy.

Civil strikes, commotion, and riots– Your comprehensive insurance covers loss or damage occasioned by civil strikes, commotion, and riots.

What is not covered by comprehensive insurance?

It is important to read the fine print when it comes to insurance because even a comprehensive cover does not cover everything. Some exceptions are:

Wear, tear, and depreciation– Your insurance coverage is not liable for any value lost due to normal vehicle wear and tear, including that of tires. In recent times some insurers have come up with insurance packages that include tires.

Acts of negligence– If your insurance company can prove that your claim is due to negligence on your part, they will not pay the claim. An example is if you were under the influence of drugs during the time of the accident.

Third-party liabilities outside of Kenya- If you travel to another country and cause an accident, your insurance will not take third party liability.

Use within airports– Your insurance is not liable if you cause damages in restricted areas, such as no go zones in an airport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do I Replace My Lost Logbook in Kenya?

 

A logbook is likely one of the most important documents you possess, as it proves vehicle ownership. If you needed to take a loan with your vehicle as collateral, it is the logbook you give out. Similarly, you cannot sell your car without it.

Losing a logbook is definitely a big problem, but it could happen to anyone. The question is, how do you go about replacing a lost logbook in Kenya? The process of replacing a lost logbook is quite similar to that of replacing lost number plates.

Step by step explanation of how to replace a lost logbook in Kenya

  1. Get a police abstract- The first step after losing any official government documents such as your ID, logbook, or passport is to get a police abstract. This equates to making an official report that the document in question is lost, and you are in the process of replacing it

  2. Obtain a tape lifting report from the DCI.

  3. Head over to your NTSA TIMS account at https://tims.ntsa.go.ke/.

  4. Log into your account and select ‘apply for duplicate logbook.’

5. Click on ‘apply’ against the vehicle in question (the vehicle whose logbook is lost).

6.Fill out the form appropriately, and upload a copy of the police abstract and the DCI tape lifting report.

7. Make payment via your preferred method and submit your application.

8. Typically, this should take two weeks, but there may be delays.

How to Replace a Lost Car Number Plate in Kenya

 

Last year, I was driving along the bumpy Nanyuki-Rumuruti Road during a heavy downpour. On getting to Nanyuki town, I realized that my rear number plate was no longer attached to the car. Chances are that it got loose and fell off somewhere along the way. I decided to wait for daybreak to find it, nothing much I could do in the dark. The following morning, I retraced my steps, stopping to check every puddle with no luck. Chances are it was swept away by the heavy downpour.

If you have ever tried to replace a lost number plate in Kenya, you must know what a hustle it is. Prior to my experience, I had never really thought much about replacing registration plates. After all, it a highly unlikely occurrence unless malice is involved.

(Pro-tip- Check your registration plates every now and then to ensure that they are tightly fastened).

So, if you find yourself in a similar predicament and are wondering where to start:

Here is a step-by-step explanation on how to replace a lost number plate (vehicle registration plates) in Kenya:

  1. Get a police abstract– The first thing you must do is report that you have lost your number plate to the police, and get an abstract.
  2. Get a tape lifting report from the DCI– The next step is to visit your nearest DCI office and request a tape-lifting report.

What is a DCI tape lifting report?

Tape lifting is the process that the DCI uses to verify your vehicle’s chassis and engine numbers to confirm that the details match with your registration documents. They then write a report of their findings.

  1. Head over to https://tims.ntsa.go.ke/. This is the official NTSA portal where you already have an account.
  • On the left-hand side of the page, select ‘Apply for Reflective Number plate.’
  • Select the car in question and under operation, click on ‘apply.’
  • This will bring you to an application form that looks like this:

 

  • Fill out all the spaces, specifying if you are replacing the front or back number plate, or both (including the respective shapes).
  1. Next, upload the DCI tape lifting report, as well as a copy of your logbook.
  2. The next step is to make the payment, which can be done via Mpesa on the next page. Replacing one number plate will cost you 1,150kes and 2,050kes for both.
  3. Submit your application and wait. In my case, I got the replacement plate in two weeks, but it can go up to three depending on demand and availability.
  4. In the meantime, NTSA advises that you print out your number plate and fix it on your screen (NOT on your number plate holders).
  5. Lastly, and most importantly, carry this documentation (preferably copies) with you at all times, in case you get stopped by the police on the road. You will easily be able to prove that you are in the process of getting new license plates.

How Do I Transfer Vehicle Ownership on the NTSA Platform?

 

Some years back the processing of transferring a vehicle to another person used to be a tedious job. It required visiting several offices, not to mention the long queues. Today, things have changed drastically due to the digitalization of government offices. Unlike before, you can now transfer a vehicle to another person at the comfort of your couch on NTSA’s Transport Integrated Management System (TIMS) portal.

What do I need to transfer a vehicle online?

The first requirement is that you create an account by registering on the NTSA TIMS portal, https://tims.ntsa.go.ke/login_csp.jsp. The registration page will look like the one below. Select the option that applies to you.

 

How do I transfer vehicle ownership on NTSA?

  • The car seller is the one who initiates the process
  • First, log in to your NTSA account, click on Vehicle Registration, and then Apply for Transfer of Vehicle Ownership 
  • Click on Create New; this will prompt you to enter the registration number of the car that you wish to transfer.
  • Select View; this will help you to see the details of the vehicle. You will need to upload a copy of the logbook.
  • Where we have New Vehicle Owner, click on what is appropriate under individual/non-individual/financier, then feed in the buyer’s details.
  • If it is an individual, you will require to put National/Alien ID and Pin. If it is a financial institution/company, you will need to put a PIN and then click on the Add Button.
  • Proceed to Security Verification, select mobile phone, then Send Verification code
  • A verification code will be sent to the phone number, feed in the verification code, and check the Disclaimer displayed.

How do I accept or decline the ownership of the vehicle?

  • Once the transfer of ownership is successful, the vehicle buyer will receive an SMS notification to prompt them to accept the vehicle transferred to them. The buyer will then be required to Log in to their NTSA Tims Account for them to accept/decline the transfer of ownership of the vehicle.
  • The following are the steps:
  • Once you Log in to the NTSA TIMS Self-service portal, click on the Accept Ownership, enter the registration number. You will then click on Inquire, then view button to see the details of the car.
  • Click on the Security Verification, select phone number, and then send so that a verification SMS will be sent to your phone
  • Where we have accept/decline, enter the verification code.
  • If Accept, input the details as required. Once you are done,  click the Submit button. This information will be sent to NTSA. This will facilitate the processing of the logbook

 

Can NTSA  fail to register the vehicle?

It is possible for NTSA to fail to register a vehicle if there is an inter-entity transaction. This means that either the seller or the buyer of the vehicle has lost their right to transfer/accept the vehicle that has already been registered in Kenya. This could be because of unpaid fines among other reasons.

How long does it take for one to get a Log book?

It takes around 14 working days for the log book to be processed for picking.

What are the requirements for the transfer of a log book to be done?

  1. You will need to do an Online NTSA Car Search to verify that the details of the vehicle are correct.
  2. You will then fill an Application Form.
  3. Finally, you will need to ensure that you have the following necessary documents:
  • Original Log book document
  • Duly filled KRA Transfer Form C from both the seller and buyer
  • Copies of PIN from bother the seller and the buyer. However, if you are buying from an organization, then you will need copies of PIN and Certificate of Registration for both the seller and the buyer.

Do I need to surrender my old Log Book?

Yes, you will need to surrender your old log book to NTSA.

How much does it cost to transfer car ownership in Kenya?

The cost of the vehicle differs depending on the Engine Capacity of the vehicle.

Vehicle’s Engine Capacity

Cost

Below 1000cc

Ksh 1660

Between 10001 to 1200cc

Ksh 1890

Between 1201 to 1500cc

Ksh 2065

Between 1501 to 1700cc

Ksh 2410

Between 1701 to 2000cc

Ksh 2695

Between 2001 to 2500cc

Ksh 3845

Between 2501 to 3000cc

Ksh 5055

Above 3001cc

Ksh 5915

Trailers with four wheels or less

Ksh 1030

Vehicles with more than four wheels

Ksh 1890

Tractors

Ksh 1030

 

 

 

Should I Import a Car or Buy One Locally?

 

Once you have decided to purchase a car, one of the most difficult decisions you have to make is whether to import or buy one locally. The biggest question on your mind at this point is, ‘what will I gain or lose either by buying locally or importing?” As car dealers, we understand that each option has its advantages and disadvantages, but we acknowledge that in the end, you should go with what works best for you. It does help, however, to have all the information. In this article, we hope to make your decision simpler by discussing the merits and demerits of importing a car or buying one locally.

What are the Advantages of Importing a Car from Japan?

Importing a car from Japan has numerous advantages, some of which include:

A Large Pool of vehicles to choose from

When you import your car from Japan, you will benefit from the availability of thousands of cars in the auctions. This means that you can get a car fitting your specifications, such as make, model, color, mileage, interior, and most importantly, price. This is unlike at a local yard where you might have to choose between four of five vehicles of the model you want.

 Value for your money

Countries like Japan have well-maintained roads and carefully used vehicles. Even if you import a 7-year-old vehicle, it is likely to be in superb condition. This means that you can even import a vehicle with slightly higher mileage for a lower price and still end up with a car that will serve you diligently for several years.

A smooth Buying Process

Buying a car locally can be a tedious process, especially when you are looking for particular specs. This is because you will have to move from one yard to another while making a million calls in between. Why not save that energy and import? When you use a reliable import agent, they will do all the work of finding the right car for you, including shipping, clearing, and registration. All you have to do is pay and sit back and wait for your vehicle to arrive without any hustles. 

 Latest Number Plate

When your car arrives at the port of Mombasa, it will be registered as a new car by the NTSA. This means that you will get the latest number plate on the road. You can also book (at an extra fee) for a special number plate, such as triple letters.

Whole History of the car

The Japanese are stringent in their car inspections. Every car available in the auction has an auction sheet. The auction sheet gives the history and the general condition of the car. Once a car is imported from Japan, you can have it physically inspected and find that it matches exactly what was in the auction sheet.

Genuine Mileage

The auction sheet also outlines the mileage of the car. The mileage is genuine and verifiable by using the chassis number to check once the car has been purchased and inspected by QISJ or other bodies contracted by KEBS.

Cars with Unique Features

With the auction having a large pool of vehicles, one can choose a car with extras that they admire, think of things like a roof rail, fancy lights, unique colors, etc.

Are there any Disadvantages to Importing a Car from Japan?

Like everything else, importing does have some angles that might be considered disadvantageous, depending on where you stand. Some of them are:

You may have to wait longer

To import a car from Japan takes around 6-8 weeks. If you want your car immediately, the waiting period might put you off.

It may cost slightly more

Sometimes importing can be considered expensive compared to buying a car locally. This mostly happens due to exchange rate fluctuations. Similarly, low mileage cars will be more costly than high mileage cars.

There could be Unforeseen Delays

The car import process takes around 45-60days, but there could be other unforeseen delays. These mainly happen at the port of Mombasa, either with KRA or NTSA systems. Occasionally there have been challenges with the availability of physical number plates.

What are the Advantages of Buying a Car in the Local Car Yards?

Immediate Purchase

When you realize that you don’t have bread in the house and you need it for breakfast, all you have to do is rush to the local kiosk or supermarket to get one. You will find bread from different companies on the shelves, and you will settle for the one you prefer. The point is, your need is satisfied immediately, which is similar to buying a car locally. If you need a car in a hurry, all you have to do is visit various car yards and pick one.

Physical Inspection

When you import a car from Japan, you will rely on an auction sheet to give you information on the car. When the car is locally available, you will walk into the yard or showroom to look at the car. You will be able to touch it, feel it and even test drive it.

Ability for Comparison

There are thousands of yards in Kenya, most of them located in Nairobi and Mombasa and set closely together. This gives you a perfect chance to ‘window shop.’ If what is found in one yard does not appeal to you, you can shop in other yards until you find what you are looking for.

Import Financing

The majority of the banks or financial institutions in Kenya prefer to finance cars already in the country. Buying a car from a local yard means that you can secure bank finance quickly, compared to the process of importing.

Are there any Disadvantages to Buying a Car from the Local Yards?

The Mileage Question

Well, not everyone you deal with will be above board, and some unscrupulous dealers may alter the odometer to make a car look more attractive. A car could have a genuine mileage of 180,000km, but someone may be tempted to rewind it to 80,000km to make it more marketable. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to verify mileage in a car that is already here.  With an imported car, it is easier to know the car’s genuine mileage using the chassis number.

History of the car

When you intend to purchase a car, you move from one yard to another, looking for something that will suit your specifications. Once you find exactly what you want or something close to it, then you make an offer. But face value only does not give you the history of the car. Even an accident repaired car may look good to you.

Expenses

A car in the yard needs to be maintained to be in good condition once you come to view it. The yard may incur extra costs related to this, including security, buffing and cleaning costs, etc. Sometimes these service costs are transferred to the customer.