It pays to ask before you buy/drive

By Jude Katende


In my opinion, owning a car today is no longer a big deal like it was when our parents used to buy them as brand-new way back. It was real a big deal then. Today, there are some online sites selling cars as cheap as $500 before taxes. In fact, URA should make things easier for Ugandans and lower the taxes. But that said, there are even schools that give away cars to the best performing students.

Cars are becoming cheaper and cheaper because technology is also becoming advanced. In future, I think cars will be like smart phones. Expensive on arrival and prices drop later when mass production sets in.

I have seen some smart phones going for shs100,000! This is unbelievable seeing that prices ranged from millions at the beginning. Anyway, the point is, anyone can own a car at some point in life. But owning it is one thing and knowing about it is another.

Today, technology is so advanced and is supposed to make life easier for us. Instead, sometimes we offend it but, in some cases, it also offends us. So, asking before you buy a particular car or driving it is equally important. Some of us like to assume that we know yet we don’t know. And some of us like operating things without reading the given manual.

Ask how many Ugandans have used their manuals to operate their gadgets and the answer will be that of very few. I once owned a VW Passat B4 which was giving me problems so I went to the internet and downloaded its manual. I thought the manual would be in German but it was in English. It had repair instructions.

And this is a car that was made in the 90s which means cars made in later years which are the majority today have their manuals too. Most of us buy Japanese cars and most of them come with Japanese manuals. This does not mean that English versions are not available. Just make the internet your friend.

Perhaps you have seen a short red plastic rod usually below the glove box at the co-passenger’s seat or near where the co-passengers rest their feet. That is a road flare used in emergencies. They are highly effective for warning approaching motorists of danger.

You may even have some in the emergency kit in the back of your car. But have you ever lit one yourself? It’s not hard, but like changing a tyre, it’s best if you practice and know what to expect before you need to use them.

You should normally set up a flare 300 ft behind your car. This gives people advance notice that your car is there. Most road flare designs are similar but it is wise to read the instructions and understand the specifics.

Keep road flares dry when they are in storage. Never light a road flare inside a building or vehicle. When lightning it, stay away from flammable materials such as dry grass or leaves and make sure it does not roll or blow around in the wind.

 I like the fact that to open the boot of the new Mercedes Benz GLC, you just swing your leg in the direction just below the boot and voila, it opens, just like that! “You don’t need keys anymore,” Gilbert Wavamunno of Spear Motors says.

Airbags and kids

Hear this. Kids 12 years and below not supposed to sit in front because airbags can kill them. So, don’t take this warning lightly. Although airbags are life savers, they can also kill!

Dimming lights

Ask how to dim your lights and when. Some drivers, especially those that have just learned driving tend not to know when and how to dim their lights at night.

Toyota’s D4 engines

Some mechanics in Uganda say Toyota D4 engines are bad, but this is just their opinion. It is because they are yet to comprehend how the technology in here works. They are used to old engines. Cars that are computerized are seen as useless by some careless mechanics in Uganda.

Go online and equip yourself with information. There is lots of information online, so equip yourself with this information, it will help you.

Some SUVs look like four-wheel drive cars but aren’t, some RAV4s and Harriers are not. So, before you buy, ask, you will save yourself a lot. There you have it, it pays to ask or do some research before you buy.

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