Buying a car is one of the best feelings one can ever experience. You begin to imagine how mobile you will be and how easy it will be moving from one point to another at your own comfort and convenience.

Missing a step in the process may see your dream turn into a haunting nightmare, from a painfully slow transfer process to loss of your hard-earned cash to the many fraudsters who are always larking in the various car purchasing platforms here in Kenya.

The best and safest place to purchase a car is from a trusted and registered vehicle dealer, especially when it is your first time purchasing a car.

Although buying a car from local dealerships or bazaars could dent your wallet a little more, you are guaranteed a smoother process and, in most cases, they assist with the paperwork and offer a warranty.

The other method most middle-class Kenyans use to buy their cars is by importing used cars from Japan and the UK via global car exporters, such as Japan’s SBT or UK’s RoadRunner.

Mercedes car keys. 

Similarly, other people buy locally used cars from their friends, relatives or people they meet on the various social media platforms.

Whichever method you choose, ensure you follow the proper channels that have clear paper and financial trails to cover your back and avoid mega heartaches and headaches.

Here are the three common ways to buy a car in Kenya and the process involved for a successful purchase;

1. Importing a car

You first need to search for a reliable automobile trading company and choose the car you want. Those websites offer a wide inventory so take your time to find your ideal car.

Always go for the ones with low mileage, as they have not been used over a long period.

Once you have identified the car you want, you can click on the “Buy now” button and reserve the car.

At this point, a sales representative will contact you and furnish you with an invoice with details which you will use to make your payment, either through bank wire transfer or PayPal. Whichever method you choose, ensure that you send money only to the beneficiary accounts of the automobile trading company.

Once the payment is made and verified, you will be issued with receipts/documents and your shipment tracking number for follow-up. Meanwhile, prepare the amount of money required for customs clearance.

You can always find out an approximation of how much the KRA import duty will cost you HERE

Car keys. PHOTO/FILE

Open a TIMS/NTSA account because you will need one to register your car. Once the car has arrived, the automobile trading company’s agent will notify you to start the process of clearance and registration.

Enlist the services of a clearing agent to help you complete the process of clearing and registration of the car.

Once done, you can collect your car. Remember to go for an initial service in which the oil should be changed to ensure your car is good to go and to avoid any issue, like the engine knocking.

2. Buying a car from local dealership

Research and visit as many car dealerships as possible. Meanwhile, compare the prices of the car you want and explore the payment options available before you settle on the one most convenient to you.

Identify the particular vehicle you want to purchase and begin the process.

Ask for the car details and legal documents i.e. the logbook, then do your own due diligence to ensure everything is in order. If possible, you are advised to hire the services of a property lawyer to take you through the process.

Inspect the car, with the help of a mechanic of your own and let him give you the correct analysis of the condition of the car especially the engine. Take the car for a test drive with the mechanic to ensure it is worth the investment.

Once you establish that the car is in sound condition, you may make an offer and maybe bargain for the price. Make payment through a banker's cheque or bank transfer.

Never use cash to buy a car. That allows you to have proof of transaction in case something happens, and in Kenya things happen! The dealer will initiate the transfer process on their TIMS/NTSA account.

I trust that at this point you will have had a running account as well.

3. Buying a car from an individual

Buying a used car from an individual is one of the riskiest ways to buy a car. Many people have fallen prey to con artists in the market and have lived to regret it.

You must exercise a lot of caution if you decide to go this way. Here are some tips how to go about it:

Request for a copy of the logbook from the person selling and verify if they are indeed the owners of the car or have them avail a written consent from the owner allowing them to sell the car on their behalf.

Contact the owner and confirm that indeed they are the owners and are selling the car.

Use the details of the logbook to verify the car details on TIMS/NTSA. It is advisable to hire a lawyer to assist with conducting the due diligence. Inspect the condition of the car with the help of a mechanic to ensure you are not buying a liability.

Take the car for a road test before you make the final decision to buy. If you are satisfied with the condition of the vehicle, ask your lawyer to draft a sale agreement and have it signed in front of witnesses from both parties.

Make your payments through bankers' cheque or money transfer. Never accept cash as a mode of payment to ensure you always have a paper trail.

Ask the owner to share with you their KRA PIN number as well as their identification document, then initiate the online transfer ownership on TIMS/NTSA.

Fill in the transfer form with your name and details as the buyer. Pay the purchase tax and transfer fee for the transfer of ownership to be complete.

Check if the car has a running insurance cover and arrange to insure the car with your own preferred insurance company.

Those are the three common ways people use to buy cars in the country. Whichever way you prefer, ensure you follow the correct procedure that is allowed by the law.

In whatever you do, never initiate any transactions before you conduct due diligence on the vehicle you want to purchase and never pay in cash.