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The Ultimate 10-Step to Guide You on Buying a Car Online


Car ownership is on the rise in Tanzania. Over the last decade, the number of light vehicles imported and registered surged, with an average of 4,500 purchased each month 

This reflects the growing demand for automobiles throughout the country. However, many people don’t know what to look for when purchasing a vehicle.

Buying a car requires a lot of thought and planning. Do your research ahead of time so you can purchase a car that's comfortable, safe, and economical.

You have plenty of options on Kupatana, because new advertisers are featuring cars every day. Follow this 10-step checklist to help you make the right decision.


Step One: Establish a Budget

Unless you’re Mohammed Dewji, you need to set a realistic budget before purchasing a new or used car. Before setting your budget, keep in mind that there are two ways to purchase a vehicle:

  •  You can save up until you have enough money to buy a car outright
  •  You can apply for an auto loan from your local bank

Either way, the cost of buying a car is something you’ll have to budget for. Don't assume that you can buy a very expensive car on credit; the monthly payment may very well be outside of your price range. 

As a rule of thumb, you don't want to spend more than 20% of your regular income on vehicle payments. It's a good idea to get input from a lender first to find out what your monthly payments would be for buying certain vehicles.


Step Two: Outline Your Priorities 

Every consumer's needs are different, which is why manufacturers produce so many different types of vehicles.  

Before comparing vehicles, it's necessary to identify your own priorities. Some factors that influence your buying decision may include: 

  •  Vehicle cost
  •  Expected lifespan of the vehicle
  •  Fuel efficiency
  •  Passenger seating
  •  Cargo space
  •  Safety features
  •  Air conditioning and other amenities


Of course, all of these factors are important to everyone to some degree, so you’ll need to make compromises. Ranking your priorities makes it easier to compromise and choose the best one.


Step Three: Make a List of Good Vehicles

Start making a list of vehicles that meet your criteria. Here are some general vehicle classes to consider: 

  •  SUV: An SUV is a great option for families with two or more children.
  •  Sedan: A sedan is ideal for couples who want a fuel-efficient car.
  • Pickup: Pickups are great vehicles for anyone who needs to regularly transport large loads. Farmers, contractors, and people who have to move regularly may want to own a pickup.
  • RV: You can actually live in an RV. If you want to live a mobile lifestyle and avoid the cost of owning a home, then this can be a great option. 

After choosing the type of vehicle you want, you’ll need to start looking at different models. Create a list and start researching them in more detail.


Step Four: Read Reviews

Once you've made a list of potential vehicles, you'll need to start reading reviews. Kupatana published this article on the 10 best cars in Tanzania. It’s a good starting point for anyone trying to choose a new car.

If you don't see a car that you like there, try looking at other forums and review sites. Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds are great car review sites to check out. 

While reviewing vehicles, it's important to look for the following:

  • Cars with the best price (or at least those that fit your budget)
  • Cars that travel well on mountainous terrains (not all American and European cars were designed to handle the terrain in Tanzania)
  • Cars with the best fuel efficiency
  • Cars that are best known for their reliability 

Once you've reviewed the cars on your list, you can narrow them down to your best one or two options.


Step Five: Learn About Vehicle Features 

A vehicle may have received excellent reviews, but that doesn't mean it's ideal for you. Reading about price, fuel efficiency, and other rating factors can only tell you so much.

There are other factors you may need to take into consideration as well, such as:

  • Uncommon mechanical problems. Some cars have great reviews overall, but have certain defects you must be aware of. For example, some models have had faulty airbags that go off without warning and seriously injure some passengers. Other vehicles have been found to stall at high speeds.
  • All-wheel drive. All-wheel drive vehicles were originally designed for Americans and Europeans in snowy climates. However, they can also be beneficial in Tanzania, because they help you drive on steep terrain. Depending on where you live, you may need an all-wheel drive vehicle.
  • Special amenities. Most cars are equipped with extra features to make riders more comfortable. They come with air conditioning, Bluetooth, and other features.

It takes time to research these factors in-depth. Learn as much as you can before choosing a vehicle model.


Step Six: Browse Ad

You should have a pretty good idea of what you're looking for by now. Start reading ads to find your new car. Here are some guidelines to help you get started.

Filter Search by Region

How far are you willing to travel to look at a new car? It’s sometimes worth traveling a couple hundred miles to get a great deal. However, you don’t want to spend several days traveling only to find out that the car isn't in great condition or has already been sold.

You can minimize this hassle by looking for advertisers in your area. Use the drop-down box next to the field that says "region." You can also use your own city name in the search box to find cars in your neighborhood.


Look for Listings with Pictures

Many advertisers don't include pictures in their ads. Sometimes this is because they're lazy, but other times they don’t want you to see the vehicle is in subpar condition. You don't want to visit the advertiser and be disappointed that the vehicle has rust or a cracked windshield.

Avoid this frustration by limiting your searches to listings with pictures. Make sure the pictures look genuine and unique.


Filter Listings Too Far Outside Your Budget

Don't be too stingy while reviewing listings. You can often negotiate lower prices. You also may be willing to set a slightly higher budget for the right vehicle. 

However, you also can't be unrealistic. Advertisers are only willing to lower their prices so much, so don't waste your time talking to advertisers looking for more money than you can afford. 

Look at the prices of listings in different advertisements. You don't want to reply to advertisements listed at 20% or more of your budget.


Read the Description Thoroughly

Before contacting the advertiser, it's important to understand their expectations and instructions. Many advertisers are frustrated that buyers message them with questions that are already answered in their ad or who offer a lower price than they're willing to accept.

Read the advertisement carefully to avoid these misunderstandings.


Step 7: Message the Best Advertisers

After reviewing several listings, you should be able to narrow them down to your top choices. You'll need to start sending messages to advertisers with cars that you're most interested in.


Follow these guidelines to create a good pitch:

  • Be genuine. Advertisers receive lots of messages from spammers. Many of these messages don't even look like they were sent by a human being. Your ad will stand out better if you put effort into it.
  • Be courteous. Advertisers are much more likely to do business with people who are polite to them. Try to come off as friendly as possible.
  • Be brief. Advertisers received dozens or even hundreds of messages from potential buyers. They simply don't have time to read through paragraphs of text. Be as brief and to the point as possible.


You’ll receive more replies if you follow these tips.

Step Eight: Look at the Car

If you and the advertiser like each other, they'll invite you over to look at the car. Unfortunately, many advertisers aren't entirely truthful or honestly forget to mention certain problems with the vehicle.


You'll have to inspect the car carefully yourself. Here a few things you should do: 

  • Look for unexpected signs of wear. Are there any cracks the advertiser didn't mention? Is the tire tread overly worn? This could indicate a problem that the advertiser isn't telling you about.
  • Inspect the odometer. The odometer should match the mileage listed in the ad. If it doesn't, it may mean the advertiser is hiding something.
  • Take the car for a test drive. The exterior of the car may look great, but there may still be serious problems with it.


It’s very important to inspect the car carefully. You're spending a lot of money, so you need to know what you're paying for.

Step Nine: Make an Offer

If you like the car, then you'll need to make an offer. Use the advertiser’s asking price as a baseline, but don't be afraid to offer a lower price. Even if the advertiser said in the ad that they wouldn't accept a lower price, they may be more comfortable doing so if they enjoyed talking to you and are eager to close the deal.

Just make sure that your offer is fair. You'll need to use your judgment. We encourage you to read our article on the world’s best negotiators for advice.


Step Ten: Transfer the Title

After you've reached a deal and made payment, it's time to transfer the title. This is the final step before the vehicle is legally yours.



Image: Flickr