Subrina, My Car Mistake

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Like many car enthusiasts, I grew up wishing that I would one day own a car, more precisely a Subaru. I believe that my love for Subarus runs deep. My grandfather owned several different Subaru models, back in the 60s through to the 80s and story goes, he would drive home in the evenings and spend hours seated in his Subaru admiring the beautiful machines he owned.

Fast forward, many years later, here I was a 26-year-old shopping for one. I scoured the internet in search for that one “perfect” fourth-generation Subaru Legacy sedan that was going to be my first car. From what I was able to source from my bank, I could only afford a second hand, locally used Legacy. Yes, the money was more than enough to buy an imported second hand but foreign used Nissan Note, Demio or Vitz but I was hell-bent on buying a Legacy. If only I knew this decision would cost me years of pain and regret.

My search took about 3 months or more and ended in February 2016 when I came across an online Subaru Legacy for sale ad. I was naturally attracted to it. It was a sedan, white in colour, had alloy rims and the only imperfection was a minor crack in the front bumper. This should have been my first warning, but I ignored this glaring anomaly. The price was just right.

The second warning, and perhaps my ancestors had foreseen a future of misery that would come from owning this car and they were thus preventing me from making this deliberate mistake, was how difficult it was to get hold of the dealership selling the car. It took several unanswered calls and texts over a couple of days before I heard from them (they were probably evading calls from numerous unsuspecting buyers they had swindled in the past, smh). They directed me to their dealership and I asked a friend who owns a Subaru to accompany me to go see the car. I figured that his experience having owned 2 Subaru’s would help pick out any issues with the car.

The car had more cosmetic imperfections that had not been revealed in the ad. A minor crack in the front bumper and a few dings here and there, the hood was slightly misaligned and one of the tires had been replaced by the spare wheel, apparently, the original tire had a puncher and they had not got around to fixing it. The tire, that was replaced by the spare wheel, had a rim that looked very different from the rest. By now, any sensible buyer would have walked away from this purchase, but mimi ni nani? The price was just too good. SMH!!!!!!

Based on the selling price, I knew I had enough cash to buy the car, purchase one rim that resembles the rest (spoiler, this rim was not easy to find, or so I learnt later) and do some cosmetic work on it. The cluster didn’t have any warning lights, at least that was the case when I first saw the car (read on to understand why), and the engine ran smoothly. I had fallen in love plus cosmetic issues can always be fixed.

I expressed interest in purchasing the car and committed to bringing a mechanic the following day to look at it. As expected, the car dealer “warned” me that there were two other serious buyers interested in the car and that one was actually a white guy from Karen who wanted to get the car for his wife. He advised that I needed to act fast if I really wanted the car. Funny thing is, this car had probably sat at that dealership for months. Based on the insurance sticker on the windscreen, the insurance cover had expired 8 months ago (this was probably another warning that I ignored). As expected, the car was still available the following day when I brought over a mechanic to look at it.

Here comes warning number three, the seller didn’t allow me to accompany the mechanic on the test drive. He claimed that the dealership had a policy that no more than one person could accompany the seller and the mechanic on a test drive. The mechanic took the car for a test drive and did his “thorough” inspection after which he gave the car a clean bill of health. To add icing to the cake, the sells man pulled aside and said he could get me a better deal on the price of the car that would save me about KES 40,000 as long as I promised to give him something small in return. Who would pass down such a deal? The car was already cheap, and the price was actually going lower. I quickly accepted and he shared a copy of the logbook so that I could ascertain the ownership of the car.

Everything checked out and I was ready to pay for the car. We met at the bank the following day and as I walked into the bank I had a gut feeling that I needed to do one last checkup on the car before I made the payment, but I brushed off the feeling.

We signed the sell agreement, got a third party insurance cover for the car and I wired funds to the dealership. The sells man congratulated me on my purchase and said that he was now going to disappoint another buyer who was also interested in the car. I couldn’t have felt more proud to finally own my first car. The keys were handed to me and I was escorted to the car and to the start of 4 years of heartache and misery.

I sat on the driver’s seat turned on the engine and the cluster lit up like a Christmas tree. The airbag, check engine, ABS, AWD and handbrake lights were all stuck on. How could I have missed all this during my first visit to see the car? Ghai, kwani nimechezwa? Nairobi!!!!

This is the first, in a series of blogs posts about my first car ownership journey. Look out for series two coming out next week.

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