Buying a car: What to know before making that purchase

Buying a car can be an intimidating experience, especially when one is doing it for the first time. The whole process can even be more stressful when the person purchasing a car has little or no information about them (cars), which mostly poses a great challenge because you barely know what to look out for.

Experts reveal that besides knowing the cost of the car or its make, there are a number of factors to consider before paying for it.


Balbir Singh Malik, technical director at Rwanda Motor, says that when purchasing a car, the decision entirely depends on the one making the purchase.


Whether it is a big or small car, it all depends on one’s needs or requirements.


 “You should consider your needs before buying a car; establish your need and use for the car. Also take into consideration where you are going to drive the car from–is it within Kigali? Or are you going to make trips upcountry? This helps you know the type of car you can buy.”

Malik also says that the number of passengers or luggage one wants to carry helps one to determine what kind of car to buy.

He adds that it is important to have your dealer make an inspection before fully owning the car.

“After buying the car we do the pre-delivery inspection before we give the car to the owner. This we do to ensure that the car is in proper condition,” he said.

Olivier Niyonsenga, a car mechanic, says that before one goes to buy a car, they should know what questions to ask.

“Before heading to the person selling you a car, you need to be prepared. Avail yourself with enough information about cars; this will help you ask the right questions, which in turn help you get relevant information,” he says.

Niyonsenga is of the view that people should make good use of the internet by checking out the different prices of different cars because this will help them have different options and make a purchase that is in line with their income.

“At times people end up buying expensive cars which they would have attained at cheaper prices because they didn’t have enough information. But when buying a car you need to take your time because this is an asset you are going to own for a long period of time,” he says.

He also says that it is important that before one purchases anything, they should do a background research on the dealership to check if they are of good reputation and their products are legit.

Eddy Sinzinkayo Director General Adjoint at Rwanda Motors Ltd notes that when buying a car one needs to consider factors such as the geographical area of the country.

SUV vehicles work very well for bad roads

SUV vehicles work very well for bad roads

“You need to know what type of car is suitable for a certain environment. If you are travelling on bad roads you need to buy a four by four (4*4) or buy a sport utility vehicle (SUV).”

There is also the operational cost, an important aspect to consider, as noted by Sinzinkayo, when buying a car.

He says a car which consumes too much fuel may be expensive to maintain. You need to choose a car with lower cc (cubic centimeters) (the lowest consumption can be 1.0cc) a car with 1.8 consumes a lot of fuel. Similarly to an old car, purchasing this may mean frequenting the garage for repairs which amounts to expenses.

He therefore adds that a person should make sure that the car they buy is easy to maintain as this will guarantee easy access to spare parts in case it needs to be repaired.

And then there is the price, another very important factor to consider, according to Sinzinkayo.

“The price of a Suzuki, a Toyota or a Mercedes is not the same, a person needs to have all the necessary information before they make the final decision on which car to buy depending on their budget.”

He says, you can have a second hand car at Rwf20,000,000 for example, and a brand new car at Rwf15,000,000, “You need to understand the specifics, you need to make enough research because you might end up paying much more money on a used car yet you would pay less on a brand new one.”

The mileage is yet another important factor. Mileage refers to the number of miles travelled or covered by the car ever since it was made. Thus, the longer the mileage, the weaker the engine gets. It is hence advisable to buy a car with a low mileage because then it has a stronger engine.

Author Edmont Flynt notes that technical support is a feature worth paying attention to because it is every essential when deciding on the model or which OEM (Original Engine Manufacturer) to buy from.

“For every car you buy, make sure there is a dealership in your locality which will help you when you have technical difficulties or problems. Some problems can be rectified by freelance mechanics, but with orders you need to visit the dealership,” he writes.

“Even if it is not for warranty purposes, you need to make sure your car is given the best kind of maintenance. These may include updates from a manufacturer, specific engine problems, transmissions issues etc. There are certain fluids which are recommended for your vehicle and can only be accessed from a dealership.”

Old Vs New

Flynt notes that the most important part of a car is the engine. An engine is the heart of a vehicle and likewise, a person with a weak or bad heart will have a short lifespan.

“In buying a used car, check the condition of the engine. If you are not mechanically savvy, seek the help of a trusted auto technician. Do a physical inspection of it and demand for a test drive from the seller. During test drives, pay detailed attention to the sound of the engine, the smell and emissions from the exhaust tube or pipe. The level of emissions will give you a fair idea about the state of the engine.”

He goes on to explain that the next step is to know the year in which the car was manufactured. This will give you a fair idea of the kind of technology used in manufacturing the vehicle. It will help you know the availability of its spare parts and other accessories.

Malik says he wouldn’t advise someone to buy an old car because at times it is you cannot be sure of the condition, “It’s better to buy a new car that you are sure of the condition and also have a warranty.”

Sinzinkayo notes that the only advantage with old cars is the cost because they tend to be cheaper than new cars but there is no guarantee that comes with buying old cars.

He says that people need to take into consideration that there is the money one pays upfront for getting the car and then there is the money you spend each and every month on the same car, something one needs to understand when making a choice between purchasing an old or new car.

“Most people fear prices for new cars but the problem is at times they are not well informed of what is on the market. On the other hand an old car may have a cheap purchasing price but it can be expensive in the long run.”

Operation costs are higher when it comes to old cars whereas with new cars, they are less in terms of fuel consumption because as the engine gets older it consumes more because it’s less efficient. There are also fewer expenses on maintenance with a new car because it is in good condition, he explains.

Then there is the issue of preserving the environment, old cars don’t brace up with this.

“At Rwanda motors we focus on selling new cars because we stand to consider what the government is promoting. The government is promoting the use of new cars other than second hand because of the protection of the environment. New cars have less emission.”

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