My friend is shopping for a car in the UK on my behalf. I’ve been looking through a website and the cars I saw are unique makes that I hardly see on our Kenyan roads. These include: the Renault Megane 1.5 dCi, Dynamique Tom Tom EDC 5dr (Tom Tom), Chevrolet (I’ve seen a few), Vauxhall Corsa, Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and Chrysler Delta.
Is it advisable to buy such unique makes for the Kenyan roads? I’m a first-time potential car owner.
Thanks for being a great resource on all things cars.
You are right: the cars you list may occur with a bit of ubiquity over in the United Kingdom of Great Britain-land but you’d be hard-pressed to find more than three units locally, and as you may have suspected, this comes with a glaring attendant problem: a noticeable lack of support networks.
Be it skilled workmanship honed over years of familiarity with the marque or a line of outlets selling sundry parts and components thereof, a quick look around will reveal a dearth of both.
There is a Renault dealership to give you hope, but the Megane-with-a-lengthy-surname you list sounds suspiciously like a devourer of derv (dCi), which is a whole other problem in itself, and is not sold locally. Renault only sells the petrol-powered Megane here. It is a nice, well-priced alternative Corolla, for what that’s worth …
There was a Chevrolet dealership here under General Motors which was bought out by Isuzu EA, subsequently waving goodbye to the bow-tie brand when all things non-Isuzu were purged from the roster, so there goes that.
There was a Chrysler outlet within DT Dobie but they too realised some Yank brands are best left to the Yanks and divested themselves of that portfolio.
Vauxhall is also Chevrolet is also Holden is also General Motors, but the Corsa they sold here was a model conjured up during the Moi government, making it a largely irrelevant car to this discussion unless your list comprises of hardware from the mid-90s. Newer models have never seen a showroom floor in Kenya. The Citroens we remember are as old as we are.
You may be able to source for parts — that is what the internet is for anyway, shopping — but you still have to find someone brave (or foolish) enough to tinker with a quirky French car s/he has never seen before, and trust me, French cars are quirky. This usually marks the beginning of a long and depressing slide into the dark side of the moon that is lemon-flavoured motor vehicle ownership, which in turn leads you to cuss out various brands for their general s — yness. Sometimes this is deserved, sometimes it’s not really the brand’s fault that nobody knows how to repair their cars. The starting list you have is not a very encouraging one as far as reliability goes, especially Citroen and Chrysler; and while the former has little or no presence here in Kenya, the latter was quietly put out to pasture — neither circumstance is a good prognosis.
Your best choice there is the Megane, but please make it a petrol one and let the diesel one live out its life in the North Atlantic, where they are used to it. If not, play it safe and get a Japanese brand; there are a number of UK-assembled models to choose from, such as the Toyota Avensis and the Honda Accord, among others. Your friend should be able to provide you with a more exhaustive list. Also, avoid diesel engines for now.
As always, your column dispenses quite a lot of useful information and the occasional comic relief in the neighbourhood of “ raised, wide tyred, heavy duty, masculine Demio!”. I hope my note will not try your patience further.
My car history is quite chequered. Renault 16TS, Peugeot 504 and 405, Mitsubishi Chariot, Hyundai Elantra, Subaru Forester, Nissan X-Trail, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and an Isuzu D-Max and Ford Ranger T6 for my farming misadventures.
As you can see, I‘ve had no brand loyalty. Now that I’m getting rather long in the tooth, I want to shift to something easier on my bones, and I’m looking at a 2015 Mercedes ML350 courtesy of Cars.co.za. The only acquaintance I’ve had with Mercs was as a passenger in my old lady’s 220S back in the 70s. So, ML350 … will it be a solid buy, or am I setting myself up for misery?
I have to agree, yours IS quite the colourful automotive history … did I just see a Renault 16 in the line-up? And not one but two Peugeots? I admire the lack of brand loyalty; it is something a lot of people would do well to pick up from you. Brand loyalty tends to be an impediment to objectivity and critical analysis. Anyway …
The Benz ML350 is a bit comme çi comme ça, — ranked ninth in some American survey on a list of luxury SUVs, prestigious badge, crossover class, all that jazz — so I won’t dissuade you from getting one, but let us instead focus on the last word of your correspondence: “misery”.
I’m not saying misery awaits you; but then again I’m not saying it isn’t. This column once featured a complainant who did not have pleasant things to say about his experience trying to get a similar one repaired, but there was a caveat: his car was not new.
A 2015 car is relatively new, by comparison and also hopefully. Unknown provenance is a fickle and cruel master. This is where I pause things to ask you: Must the car come from South Africa? I noticed the “.co.za” suffix in the URL you provided; which means it is a South African website.
There is a closely guarded secret that DT Dobie may or may not be pleased with me revealing, but, as hard to believe as it may sound, it is true: brand-new Mercedes-Benz cars are not as expensive as people think they are.
I’m not referring to the recently launched G63 AMG urban assault war machine: that one costs 37 million shillings and is clearly meant for the heavily privileged who also buy ships and aircraft — I’m referring to more “normal” Mercs: they really are not that expensive. Darken the doorway of your nearest DT Dobie branch and ask for a price list of Mercedes-Benz cars, then get your socks knocked off when you realise a GLS500 costs Sh4 million LESS than a Toyota Land Cruiser VX. Whaaaat? And that is not the only example …
There is a reason I’m asking you to look closer home. First, you could land yourself a certified pre-owned ML350 (later renamed “GLE350”), which means a dealer-maintained or at least dealer-approved vehicle that will be niggle-free for the most part. They dare not sell you a ramshackle. You can’t get this kind of certainty from an offshore import.
The dealer may even accept a trade-in if your cash reserves don’t quite meet their asking price for a new-ish ML/GLE, again another benefit the South Africans don’t and/or won’t offer. If a trade-in is not in the offing, there could be a financing option — but you say you are getting on in years, so having you repaying a car loan at this stage in life may not make much sense.
I don’t know how much you have saved for your prospective ML/GLE, but if you could stretch a bit further, who is to say you can’t get a brand-new one? It comes with a warranty, which is the best insurance a car-shopper can hope for against future maintenance-related headaches.
I once said in this column that the best German car is a new one; once the problems start, bitter tears follow shortly. Minimise the risk by buying something you can vet before forking out your hard-earned money.
Do I need to replace my car’s thermostat?
The debate on not or whether to remove the thermostat from the engine has been mind-boggling to me. I drive a Toyota and recently had trouble with its thermostat, which was “evacuated”. The car drives smoothly, but are there any long-term implications?
I used to do up to 18km to 19km per litre. This has dropped to 14 to 15, so does it have implications on consumption?
Where can I find one, as it has been a pretty difficult affair looking for one in Kisumu.
You didn’t specify what Toyota you drive, but anyway … I’m surprised you can’t find a thermostat for it. That is very odd.
The advice most “experts” give for a failed thermostat is to replace, not evacuate. Those that recommend evacuation or go ahead and actually do it are bush mechanics with no sense of responsibility and believe in curing symptoms rather than the actual problem. It may be time to divorce yourself from them.
Cars will run just fine without thermostats, but there are long-term implications, which, “punnily”, are mostly centred around shortened engine life. This is most severely exacerbated during cold starts and this is what happens:
In a normal engine, the cooling system is kept offline during a cold start to allow the engine to warm up faster. This is combined with a slightly higher idling speed to get the temperatures up to normal in as little time as possible. Once the temperatures optimise, any further fluctuations are handled by the cooling system going on and off via the actions of the water pump, the cooling fans and whatever else you have doing the cooling for you. If temperatures drop, the cooling system shuts down. If the temperatures rise, the cooling system comes back to life. This on-and-off action is controlled by the thermostat.
Now, take an engine that has undergone a thermostat-ectomy. The cooling system has no control switch, which means at one point it is going to steam itself like a chunky lobster only that instead of a tasty entrée following, it will be a stall and a massive repair bill. So how is this handled? Since there is no switch, the cooling system can only assume one position: fully on or fully off.
Fully off leads to the lobster situation, which is undesirable, so it has to be fully on. That means everything controlled by the thermostat is wired directly to the car’s electrical system. This in turn means the cooling fans and water pump come on at full blast the moment the key is turned.
During a cold start, you do not want this, because now the engine will fight a civil war against itself and its satellite accessory states: the idling runs high to try and warm up the engine as fast as it can while the cooling system on the other hand is doing its damnedest to provide maximum chilling effect to that same engine.
This may explain why your fuel consumption has gone up, but that is mostly conjecture, there are worse problems awaiting.
An engine running cold will run rich to warm up. An engine running cold also means oil temperatures are low, which in turn means oil viscosity is high, which further implies the oil takes a lot longer to reach where it is needed and the engine is very slowly cannibalising itself from a lack of lubrication in crucial parts. What makes things worse is the running rich.
Fuel is a solvent and will wash oil off the cylinder walls when given a chance. So what you have is cold oil that is struggling to flow through the engine and the little that manages to flow around immediately gets washed off by a rich intake charge from an engine trying to warm itself up while its own cooling system won’t let that happen.
I hope you see the picture I am painting here. Replace the thermostat, don’t “evacuate” it.
Singer speaks after attacking lover at WCB signee Zuchu’s star-studded concert
56 minutes ago
On 18 July, there was fanfare at the Mlimani City Hall in Dar es Salaam as WCB signee Zuchu held a thanksgiving concert months after her debut EP, I Am Zuchu. The event dubbed ‘Ahsante Nashukuru’ mainly featured performances by artistes from the WCB stable and attracted the whos-who in the Tanzanian entertainment and political scenes.
However, singer Gigy Money who also performed made the headlines for the wrong reasons after getting into a scuffle with her lover during the much-publicised concert.
READ ALSO: I was bewitched by a friend – Gigy Money
Peaceful arrival, later chaos
Moments earlier, Gigy and her Nigerian man were seen arriving arm in arm at the event whose highlight featured Zuchu receiving a brand new car from WCB head honcho Diamond Platnumz. Donning matching outfits, the couple was spotted on the red carpet as the paparazzi scrambled to capture the moment. However, all hell breaks loose later and viral videos depict the visibly angered Nigerian arguing with a bouncer at the entrance. After a tense confrontation, Gigy’s man is seen being led by the screaming bouncer towards the exit. Shortly after, a similarly irritated Gigy emerges and follows the pair.
“Gigy! Wewe Gigy wewe!” a woman in the background is heard dissuading the singer from pursuing them but the singer pays no heed and heads for the pair.
“You want to beat me?” the boyfriend is heard asking an approaching Gigy as the bouncer acts as a barrier between them. The bouncer manages to steer the incensed man towards the exit as Gigy follows behind, hurling obscenities.
At some point, a barefoot Gigy turns into a sprint before throwing one of her shoes which hits the man who then responds with an insult. Another bouncer finally intervenes and the two are separated. Gigy then asks for her vehicle so she can head home before warning the press against sharing videos of the incident.
Though the cause of their tiff is still unknown Gigy later made reference to the shocking incident in a social media post, hinting that alcohol had a part to play in the fracas. In another post, Gigy shared a photo alongside her estranged lover writing: “My mad man looked handsome before his demons arose and mine arose too.”
‘Running over Ali Kiba’
Gigy is not new controversy and recently said she’d run over her ex, singer Ali Kiba for breaking her heart.
“I will knock all of them down, I mean I will kill them. In fact, I will flatten them like chapatis. The first person I will knock down and kill is Ali Kiba. Actually, I don’t need a weak car, I need a Fuso so that when I knock him down I will be sure he doesn’t survive,” Gigy told Ayo TV.
Dating Kiba brothers
Gigy had in the past admitted to dating both Ali Kiba and his younger brother, Abdu Kiba. She solely laid the blame on Chekecha singer for pursuing her despite knowing that she’d been with his younger brother. Abdu expressed being heartbroken after learning the two had a fling, prompting him to marry.
“I was very hurt on hearing that Ali was dating Gigy Money because I dated her first before she became famous. But it’s alleged that Ali didn’t know. It hurt me for a while till when I married,” said Abdu.
Defunct Nairobi County Council Nurses Go On Strike, Citing Discrimination By The Government
Why Jahmby Kokai is happy her TV anchor dream never came true
37 minutes ago
Popular media personality Jahmby Koikai narrated how her first attempt at auditioning as a TV host backfired and she was sent home on the first day of the audition. Reliving her prime days, Jahmby narrated how she was determined to follow her dream of becoming a news anchor after completing her degree.
“There was a reality show that was running on one major TV channel here in Kenya, searching for the next top news anchor. I’ve always had the knack for news. At the time, I was working at Metro FM. Walked to my boss and asked him if he was ok with me participating in this competition. He agreed to it.
“Auditions were at Film Studios. The queue stretched all the way to the showground. I was at the back kabisa. Imagine 300 people before you. Then we got the briefing paper and it indicated, ‘no persons with experience in a media house allowed to participate in this audition’. Mimi Jahmby Koikai, nirudi home after watu 300 kukuwa mbele yangu?” she posed.
According to the endometriosis survivor, she went ahead to audition for the position despite the warning and was the first contestant to be sent packing.
“So I stayed in line until I got to the audition room. The judges were a few people I was in campus with. I felt a wave of despair. Like I’m here auditioning, yet my classmates will be judging me? I did my thing and I was considered. We got into the house and we were assigned to different groups. I was the group leader and we won the challenge. Later that evening, we were driven back to Film Studios for a briefing. The presenter of the show said some of us have to go home.
“My name was called out first amongst other great people. We were dropped home. I cried. It felt like I’d lost such a great opportunity. My mom and late grandma were so sad cos they loved to watch me do the news,” she narrated.
Later, Jahmby auditioned for another TV opportunity only to miss out as well.
“Then came another opportunity over 10 years ago, I saw a TV ad and decided to apply for the news anchor position. I didn’t get the job.”
However, due to endometriosis, Jahmby was forced to put her dreams on hold and concentrate on getting better. According to her, it is as though God had better plans for her and is grateful to not have gotten the jobs.
“I battled severe endometriosis in silence for over 19 years. I think of how engaging the newsroom is and I’m grateful I wasn’t in that space. I’d have utilized all my sick-leaves and off-days and just declared redundant.”
There was a reality show that was running on one major TV channel here in Kenya, searching for the next top news anchor. I’ve always had the knack for news. At the time, I was working at Metro Fm. Walked to my boss and asked him if he was ok with me participating in this competition. He agreed to it. Auditions were at Film Studios. The queue stretched all the way to the showground. I was at the back kabisa. Imagine 300 people before you. Then we got the briefing paper and it indicated, ‘no persons with experience in a media house allowed to participate in this audition’. Mimi Jahmby Koikai, nirudi home after watu 300 kukuwa mbele yangu? Nikasema zi. So I stayed in line until I got to the audition room. The judges were a few people I was in campus with. I felt a wave of despair. Like I’m here auditioning, yet my classmates will be judging me? I did my thing and I was considered. We got into the house and we were assigned to different groups. I was the group leader and we won the challenge. Later that evening, we were driven back to Film Studios for a briefing. The presenter of the show said, some of us have to go home. My name was called out first amongst other great people. We were dropped home. I cried. It felt like I’d lost such a great opportunity. My mom and late grandma were so sad cos they loved to watch me do the news. Then came another opportunity over 10years ago, I saw a TV ad and decided to apply for the news anchor position. As you see in this pic, I got my hair done at Ralph’s Hair Salon, new suit etc. I didn’t get the job. After KBC, I never got to anchor the news again. I’m grateful I did not get the job even though I felt dejected at the time. I battled severe Endometriosis in silence for over 19years. I think of how engaging the newsroom is and I’m grateful I wasn’t in that space. I’d have utilised all my sick-leaves and off-days and just declared redundant. There are many people like me who are bound by chronic illness and cannot do the things they love. I share your pain. But there’s hope. I’m grateful to God for His reminder that He will restore to you all the years that the locusts have eaten. Also Jer 29:11