Things To Consider Before Buying A Second Hand Car (Explainer)

Things you should look at before purchasing a second hand car

Used-Cars-in-Kenya (Courtesy)

Many people opt to buy used or second-hand cars sourced locally or abroad simply because they are more affordable. Most used cars in Kenya are originally from Japan based on the fact that they are all Right-Hand Drive (RHD), a requirement on Kenyan roads.

However, purchasing a second-hand car can turn into a money pit if you have not done thorough research.

So, in order to avoid scams and get the best value, always ensure that you are hooked up with a genuine and trusted platform that will connect you with legit Car Dealers who will make your journey towards owning a car smooth and stress free.

In today's explainer, we talk to car dealers (Agba Car Sales Limited) who have been using, a trusted online platform, as a marketplace for their second-hand cars.

Cheki Kenya is a trusted online marketplace where all of Kenya's leading car dealers, importers and private sellers post their cars for sale in Kenya. They don’t sell cars directly but rather offer a state of the art, advertising medium for Kenyans to buy and sell their cars, 4WDs, vans, bikes and trucks and other vehicles.

So here are things you need to consider before buying a second-hand car in Kenya.

But first things first, we wanted to get an understanding of what a second-hand car is and Joseph Karanja Kamau, a Sales Manager at Agba Car Sales Limited was kind enough to explain.

“These are simply vehicles that have been used in Japan. They are well-maintained and 8 years old. So those are the most used cars we have in Kenya.”

Would you recommend one to buy a second hand car?” We asked Joseph.

“Yes, I will because in our country we don’t manufacture vehicles, we only assemble them. And the availability of these vehicles is very low, so buying foreign used vehicles is good and they are readily available.”


One of the reasons why second-hand cars are mostly recommended for anyone in need of a car is their affordability.

However, the budget is actually not about how much you can spend but what should be the right price for a used car that can meet your needs. Experts advised that it's always important to do an online search and compare prices for your desired model.

One way of ensuring that you get a fair price is by using the Cheki True Price which is a tool on that is designed to provide car shoppers with accurate information on the prices of cars in Kenya. Knowing the actual price range of a car empowers you to negotiate with car sellers from an informed position. This ensures that you never have to overpay for the car you want.

True Price shows the price range that a car falls within. It then goes on to compare this price range with the price that a car seller is asking. This transparent pricing helps you to negotiate better with car sellers as well as ensuring that you make the best car-buying decisions.

“They are affordable, with as low as Sh500K, you can drive off with your own car. For the budget you have to be careful, because you need to check the valuation of the car, the insurance premium you are going to pay and other costs,” says Joseph Karanja.

Determine your car needs

Do you want to move from point A to B, need a car for business or for family? Buying a car is already hard enough without adding the strain of which one to buy. There are a number of things to consider when deciding which type of car suits your needs best.

Our experts advise that it is always important to go for a vehicle that will meet your personal needs. With this in mind you can be able to buy a car that is tailored to your specific needs.

“You might be in need of a car because of your work or family, if it's work you will go for commercial vehicles rather than luxury vehicles. For family you will probably go for a small car to start with”

Availability of Spare parts

It is important for all first time car buyers to look for cars that have spare parts that can be easily found at car garages. This given the poor state of a number of city and rural roads in the country.

“If you buy a car and you don’t know where to get spare parts, it means you will have to park your car for even two weeks as you try to import spare parts.

How do you know the car is Legit?

“Nowadays things are done online, for example a platform like, they have a column where they show you if the price of the car you are intending to buy is good or bad. You can also do research via the NTSA platform TIMs and get to know the owner of the car, details if they are corresponding”.

The Car’s Condition

Another essential aspect that one must look at when buying a second-hand car is the car’s external and internal condition. Despite being a used car, the vehicle should be in a proper running condition, making every penny worth it.

Our expert points out that it’s important to take a test drive of the car you are buying to assess all the major’s systems such as steering, engine, cooling, wheels, as this will help you plan in the future and avoid time to time repair and maintenance. You can also use a trusted mechanic to do the assessment.

“For the exterior, it’s just the body only and some small extras like fog lights, sun roof that entice some people. But for interior, it’s the comfortability, the AC, whether Manual or Automatic”

“After identifying the car you want, it’s advisable you do a drive test, get satisfied that it is in good condition and now you can negotiate for the car. Do an agreement, probably pay and now request for the insurance, because you can’t leave the show room without the insurance, but some dealers do deliver the car to the client using the KG plates”.

KG Plates are Short-Term dealership/garage plates with a special insurance cover for vehicles awaiting number plates or without insurance.

During our conversation with Vincent Makau, from Agba Car Sales limited, we wanted to find out the difference between the cost of buying a car and owning a car?

“The cost of purchasing a car is the amount of money you pay to own that particular car, net price of the car. The cost of owning the cast is now the price you paid for the car plus the operating cost of that car e.g. Insurance, maintenance etc.” explained Makau.

How do you know the foreign used car you are purchasing is in good shape or condition?

“You can ask for the Grade of the car, they are categorized into grades, we have grade 2, 3, 4 or ask for the auction sheets as it can be able to tell you if the car has been repaired, if it’s an accident car all that”.


When it comes to documentation, make sure that you cover all your bases including transfer documents and car log book as having them done wrongly can cost you dearly.

You have to initiate the Online Transfer Logbook through the NTSA TIMS. If you don’t have the NTSA TIMS account, you are required to create to complete the process.

As a car buyer you will have to pay for the transfer fees and purchase tax through the NTSA TIMS.

“When buying a car there has to be an agreement, and in that agreement there is a clause that states the car has to be transferred within 14 days of purchase. That transfer of ownership and for this to happen the buyer must have the TIMS account (Transport Integrated Management system. For you to qualify to do the transfer Online, you must have; a pin, original ID, and get registered on TIMS and the car will be transferred to your name at a cost the money is paid through a pay bill. And the price range depends on the CC of the Car” noted Makau from Agba.

Details of a Log Book

The Log book carries the details of the car; Name of the owner, registration Number, Engine Number, Pin, P.O Box. Etc.

The log book is simply the value of your car.

What’s Mileage- this is simply the Kilometers the car has been able to cover since being made.

After what mileage should one do before servicing the car;

“In Kenya you can do up to 5oo0 kilometers or 7000 depending on the type of oil the service guys have used”.

Number Plates- The cost of getting a number plate is always included in the cost of buying a car, unless you want a customized plate.

Imported or Locally Used?

Opting for either options depends on one's finances. Importing a second-hand car is however cheaper even with the added taxes.

However, it has its shortcoming in that one could end up waiting for months to have the car cleared through the ports.

Buying a locally used car therefore seems the better option as you can purchase it immediately.

Unfortunately, the cost will be much higher and if you are not buying from an unknown car dealer you might be tricked into buying a stolen car or one that needs lots of repairs.

Buying insurance

It is important to understand the different types of insurance policy to make wise decisions. Depending on your car needs and finances, you can settle for either of the three policy types. You also have to remember that it is illegal to drive a car without an insurance cover.

The kind of insurance you choose will be affected by the make you choose, it’s value plus other factors that vary with the insurance provider.


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