The Observer (Kampala)

20 December 2012

Uganda: Buying a Car? Here's What to Look Out For

Buying a car is everyone's desire and dream and if it wasn't for the high taxes imposed on cars, I think everyone would own a car in Uganda. But what exactly should you think about before buying a car?

Often, we buy cars from bonds or from our friends and sometimes it's hard to establish if they have some mechanical problems. To avoid this, you should seek the services of a knowledgeable mechanic before buying one. He or she will check out the following issues:

Engine capacity: The engine size and how it consumes fuel is what makes a car operate effectively. Engines with a high capacity consume a lot of fuel, although they have higher speeds.

The transmission system: is it effective when engaged; can the car move in front or reverse? In many cases, we have so many choices, but because the cars are often packed against each other, it's hard to establish how they move.

Always check the oil levels using a deep stick. This stick has two indicators of oil levels - 'L' for low and 'H' for high. For a normal engine, the oil level should be at 'H'. When the deep stick shows 'L', it indicates that the oil is old or spoilt and if you are to buy it, you would need an engine overhaul.

If it's a diesel engine, you should remove the deep stick and start it. If it emits lots of smoke, then the engine is spoilt.

Always look out for any leakages both above the engine and below it. This could be of hydraulic or oil and if any spillages are found, it means that most of the engine parts are worn out.

Check for shock absorber leakages; in most cases these cars are driven on bad road when being transported here.

Endeavour to start the engine - you will know whether it's good or bad from how it sounds.

As you accelerate the engine, observe the color of the smoke that is emitted. For a normal petrol engine, the smoke should be clear with some water drops out of the exhaust. But if the car engine is bad it will produce a blue white smoke, an indicator that it might need an engine overhaul.

Check if the car has ever been involved in an accident. Check if the parts are joined and/or bent especially when you open the boot or front frame of the car.

Robert Kato is a mechanic. 

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