The vehicle ownership rate in Tanzania has risen significantly in recent years. According to the Tanzania Automobile Association, consumers purchase an average of 4,500 light vehicles every month.
While demand for vehicles is rapidly increasing, many customers still don't know what to look for when purchasing a car. It can be difficult for them to make an informed decision when buying a used car on Kupatana.
Cars are expensive, so it's important to perform your due diligence before committing to a purchase. We've outlined a few tips to help you choose the right vehicle, and encourage you to read through them carefully to make a wise decision.
1. Identify Your Needs
Manufacturers produce many different types of vehicles. Every customer's needs are different, so it’s important that they offer many options to choose from.
Take the following into account while browsing for a vehicle:
Your Family’s Needs
Your car needs to have enough room for your entire family. Most two-door sedans were made for American and European consumers with smaller families, so they may not be large enough for the average Tanzanian. The average Tanzanian family has five children, so a larger vehicle such as a minivan might be the best choice.
If you have any children under the age of three, look for a car large enough to store a car seat. It's also best to drive a larger vehicle that can withstand an impact in case of an accident, and increase your chances of keeping your family safe.
Time Spent Driving
Vehicles are luxuries for many Tanzanians, but others can’t live without them. If you must drive long distances for work, then you'll need a durable and dependable vehicle.
We encourage you to review our article on the 10 best cars in Tanzania. It may help you choose a car that will last and have minimal maintenance costs.
The Region You Live In
Make sure your car is appropriate for the terrain you’ll be driving in. Most cars will operate smoothly on level ground, so you don't need to be too picky if you live in the plains or a major city such as Dar es Salaam.
If you're living in the mountains, then you'll need a more durable car to handle the driving conditions. You may want to invest in a car with four-wheel drive.
2. Your Budget
Because incomes are rising more slowly than inflation, most families must live frugal lifestyles keep themselves out of debt. You’ll need to stick to a reasonable budget when buying a car.
How Much Can You Afford to Spend on a Car?
Many of the cars listed on Kupatana cost over 10 million TZS. These options are usually too expensive for the average Tanzanian.
Fortunately, you can find cheaper vehicles that suit your budget. However, you'll need to browse the listings carefully, set your budget first, and stick to it.
Budget for Fuel and Maintenance Costs
It's also important to think about the costs of driving and maintaining your vehicle. Diesel prices are currently 1600 TZS, and petrol prices are even higher. The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority has been steadily increasing them over the last couple of years.
Fuel prices are expected to increase even more in the future, which is something you should definitely factor into your budget. If you plan to drive regularly, you'll need to look for a vehicle with high fuel efficiency. Bankrate has a list of good fuel-efficient cars to consider.
3. Research Vehicle Models Carefully
There are about 300 different vehicle models in the world. Most of these vehicles are sold in Tanzania, so you have plenty of options to choose from.
Each model is unique, so it's important to research them carefully. Review sites, forums, and manufacturer information are all good places to start.
Look at Review Sites
There are a number of great car review sites on the internet. Edmunds, Auto Trader, and Cars.com are some of the most reputable.
These sites give helpful overviews of the important features for many vehicles. Take a look at this car review from Auto Trader for a 2011 Toyota Corolla.
It starts off by providing the main benefits relative to other cars in its class:
“The Toyota Corolla has a longstanding reputation for being one of the most affordable small sedans available. It's known for being reliable, inexpensive, and for offering a strong list of safety features. The base level Corolla is simply equipped, but still includes air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and six airbags. EPA estimated mileage is an impressive 35 mpg on the highway.”
This review clearly shows that the Toyota Corolla is one of the best all-around vehicles you can purchase. Some vehicles are cheaper because they are less reliable and have lower fuel efficiency. However, as this review shows, the Corolla is clearly an exception.
Check Out Vehicle Forums
Vehicle review sites are a great place to start, but you should also ask other customers for their opinions, as well. Review sites are usually pretty honest, but the reviewers don’t have as much first-hand experience with the car models you’re looking for. They may give a nice overview of the car, but won’t always delve into the detail you want.
It’s a good idea to visit some of the most popular car forums. Other car owners can discuss specific issues and give more insights. You can also ask specific questions and get personal answers from other drivers.
Some of the best forums are AutomotiveForums.com and CarForums.com. Look through their subforums for each vehicle make to find additional information.
For example, here’s a link to the forum for Toyota Corollas and Matrixes on Automotive Forums.com. There are plenty of threads on specific issues and features of the car. Here are a few that stand out:
- Some people have reported that their brakes generally work well, but may lock up for a little while after getting new tires. This is important to know if you’re purchasing a car that will soon require new tires.
- One forum member pointed out that you can program your vehicle to operate without a key. A Corolla is one car model that can be operated remotely.
- You can find out how fast your car can drive after making certain modifications.
These forums prove helpful while researching a new car. However, they are mostly written by people living in the United States. Keep the following in mind:
- These reviewers will use the British Imperial System units, such as miles and horsepower.
- When people discuss issues they have with vehicles, they’re talking about driving in urban America. Those discussions aren’t always relevant for Tanzanians.
Nonetheless, these forums can still give you a lot of insight about particular cars. You’ll be able to make a more informed decision after listening to other drivers.
Speak With the Manufacturer
It’s always worth consulting with manufacturers before choosing a car. Of course, they’re biased, because they want you to purchase their vehicle. However, they also know more about their car than anyone else, so they can give you some great information to help you make an informed decision. Manufacturer websites also provide excellent information to take into consideration.
4. Understand the Role of Vehicle Taxes
The Tanzania Revenue Authority charges steep taxes on most vehicles imported to Tanzania. Import taxes vary by country, model, and age. They are especially high for cars that are over 10 years old.
Total taxes are over 32% for many cars. Dealers are responsible for paying these taxes when importing cars into Tanzania. However, the tax is passed on to customers, which inflates car prices.
5. Compliance Concerns
Your vehicle needs to be compliant with the Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles) Regulations. You can read these regulations on the Tanzania Revenue Authority website.
These laws state that you can’t drive your car until it passes an inspection and receives a certificate of roadworthiness. Your vehicle must pass a number of tests:
- The brake force required to stop the vehicle cannot be more than 50% of the axle weight.
- The emissions from the vehicle cannot contain more than 4.5% carbon monoxide.
- The noise emitted from the vehicle cannot exceed 88 dB(A).
Some vehicles are more prone to developing problems over time. If you don’t choose a car carefully, you may end up paying a lot in maintenance fees to renew your registration.
All vehicles must also be insured. Insurance costs are based on the value of your vehicle. The Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA) has set minimum insurance premiums at 3.5% to 9% of the value of the vehicle. If you buy more expensive vehicles, then you’ll be forced to pay more in insurance.
If you are on a tight budget, then you should probably invest in a less expensive vehicle to save on insurance costs.