Steps to Follow When Buying a Used Car in Kenya

Buying a car in Kenya has been difficult especially due to the high rate of con artists. In this case, for you to succeed in buying a used car, you have to follow a detailed protocol to avoid these cons. Many people have been losing their hard-earned money to these cons purporting to sell second-hand cars. Therefore, it is imperative to be informed before deciding to buy a used car. As a result, this is a detailed guide on the steps to follow when buying a used car in Kenya.

1. Decide on the Budget

The first thing is to understand the money you are willing to spend on the car. Some of these funds can be from your savings, a bank loan, parents, or sponsor. Therefore, the first action is to know the amount you have to spend on the car. From this amount, you will know which car to go for. The price of cars is affected by various conditions that include:

  • The make of the Vehicle: Mercedes, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mitsubishi, etc.
  • Mileage. This is the distance covered by the car from the day it was bought.
  • CC. The engine Capacity represents the fuel the car consumes for a given distance.
  • Transmission Mode: Automatic or Manual.
  • Seats: The number of seats in the car.
  • Type of Body: The Vehicle might be a pickup, Truck, SUV, Sedan, Van, Station Wagon, etc.
  • Age: How old the vehicle is since it was manufactured.
  • Fuel Type: Either Diesel or Petrol.
  • Driver: 2WD or 4WD.

2. Access the Car and Do a Test Drive

If you are not conversant with vehicles, please go with a friend or a mechanic who understands the operation of cars. A mechanic may ask for a small fee, but if he does not, do the honorable thing by buying him lunch. Inform the seller about the test drive so that they can accompany you or provide a person to accompany you. The test drive will enable you to understand the condition of the car. As a result, you will be able to determine if it is the best car for your needs. Through the test drive, you should check the following:

  • Are you able to enter or exit the car without banging your head?
  • The comfortability of the seats: Check to ascertain that the seas are easy to adjust. Furthermore, you should ensure that the lumbar supporting the driver’s seat and that of the front passenger are in place.
  • Check for the legroom, hip room, and headroom. Similarly, check the spaces available at the back seats.
  • Ensure that the check engine light is on. If not, you should ensure that this is rectified before buying the car.
  • Inspect the visibility of the vehicle. Look through the rearview mirror and the side mirrors to check for any blind spot.
  • Use your sense of smell to identify any burning oil, gas, or anything that might be wrong.
  • Inspect the tires. Look if they have enough threads for your safety.
  • Test the headlights, brake lights, indicators, and conditioning.

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After checking all these, it is time now to start the process of acquiring this car. Therefore, the following is a list of steps you should follow when buying a used car in Kenya:

  1. Access the logbook. This is the only ownership proof from the owner.
  2. At a fee of Ksh. 500, verify the details of the vehicle from NTSA.
  3. Write the agreement of sale with the owner. The agreement must be signed.
  4. Make payments through a bankers Cheque
  5. Have a copy of the previous owner’s details like the National ID and PIN Number.
  6. Fill the logbook transfer form.
  7. Make the necessary changes to the logbook at the NTSA.
  8. Pay Purchase Tax and transfer fee at KRA.
  9. Buy insurance for the car.
  10. Pay the motor vehicle transfer fee through MPESA. The fee varies depending on the type of vehicle and engine capacity. However, the maximum amount is Ksh. 6,000.00 and the minimum is Ksh. 1000.00.
  11. Finally, you will need to access the internet for the NTSA TIMS portal. You have to transfer the car from the previous owner’s NTSA TIMS account to your NTSA TIMS account.

Finally, double-check the following:

  • The engine Number (Vehicle Identification Number “VIN”) on the vehicle is similar to the one on the NTSA TIMS search and the original logbook. If these details do not match, the car was stolen, or duty was not paid.
  • The original logbook is authentic and not fake.
  • The names on the owner’s original logbook match the names on the NTSA TIMS account.
  • the ID Number or Passport Number and PIN Number on the owner’s TIMS account match those on their original National ID or Passport and PIN Certificate.
  • there is no other listed owner on the logbook or the TIMS portal such as a bank, financial institution, or a motor dealer, etc. and if there is, abort the transaction until the other owner consents to the sale and agrees to transfer the vehicle together with the owner to you.
  • Both parties, that is, the seller and the buyer will then fill in the relevant details on their respective TIMS accounts where the seller transfers and the buyer accepts the transfer.

After confirming all these details, the seller has to sign the Motor Vehicle Sale Agreement. Moreover, the seller will hand over the motor vehicle keys and the original logbook. The buyer will then handover the banker’s cheque.


Do a quick check on fuel level, check engine oil, check levels of fluids such as brake fluid, power steering, coolant, engine oil, and washer water. Most sellers maintain them at a bare minimum or they could have simply gone low so you need to know what you have.

If you don’t know how to check or are low on any of these go to a petrol station, service center, or garages of choice and have them checked and refilled.

You can then take your car and leave.

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