Buying a car in Nairobi, mechanic, Insurance ect......

I will be buying a car in Nairobi in November 2011. My plan is to look around all the shopping mall notice boards (Sarit Centre, Westgate, Yaya, Karen) rather then buy directly from a dealer.

I need a few recommendations for mechanics that I can use when I do find a car, will need them to give it the once over and make sure all the parts are OK before I buy.

Also... any help on Insurance would be great, who are the cheapest? who are the best? I do plan to shop around and get a few quotes. But if anyone can give me an idea of average prices? I will be looking to get fully comp.

Thanks in advance

Hi Isherwood & welcome to!

I hope that other members will help you soon.


The AA are pretty good and will look over a car for you.  They also value them.  They have an office at Sarit (upstairs) and Hurlingham.  Not sure where else.

Hi  - getting a car - be careful of notice boards - lots of conmen/women out there. Better bet you visit a second hand dealer. Lots of genuine ones that even give guarantees on the car. Regarding insurance several companies. stick to the popular ones eg APA, Jubilee, or Heritage. Mechanics - very many. Perhaps when the time to buy your car approaches you can contact me and I will send you several contacts for all the above and you can choose accordingly.

Thanks Longonot62 and kenyandesi for taking the time to replay. Much appreciated!

I have also been looking into shipping a car over from the UK. It looks to be much cheaper. I'm looking at a Toyota Hilux and you can get one in the UK for roughly** £2000 (ksh 260,000) to £6000 (ksh 780,000) for a 2004/2005 model and I've been quotes £795 (ksh 103,350) for the shipping to Mombasa. 

But I'm still to get my head round the import duty + all the other fees that they seem to keep adding on ++++

Has anyone done this before? can they recommend a company?

I'm looking at all possibilities and shipping definitely looks like one of the cheapest ways to get a car in Kenyan.

Thanks again for the replies & I will take you up on that Kenyandesi... I will get in touch closer to the time to get your recommendations.

I'd look online to buy cars in Kenya - is where you'll find most Kenya cars for sale from the many car dealers and some private sellers. In terms of insurance, seems to be a good broker for most types of consumer insurance - there are many though, and the price is generally regulated for comprehensive car insurance to around 7% of the value of the vehicle per year as a guide.

In response to the post above about shipping and importing cars, there is some great information with calculators here:

I have shipped two vehicles from the UK.  The last one at the end of 2009.  I shipped a VW Touareg 4 years old.  The vehicle was purchased for £16000. I decided to put it in a container at a cost of £2000.  Duty was around 1.4 million Kenya Shillings.  Even with the costs, the vehicle is valued at 4 million or so.  Shipping would have been in the region of £1000 for a roll on roll off ship.

We found that what you pay for the vehicle in the UK is largely irrelevant to the duty payments, because KRA have a list of used vehicle values, which they refer to when calculating duty.

The main problem with imports is that they are set up for european conditions.  Local market cars have larger radiators, tougher suspension etc.  Many of the imported vehicles for sale in Kenya are ex japan and those vehicles have spent 5 years sitting in traffic - knackered diesel engines are the result.  My advice for preference would be:  Local market first, UK import (preferable self sourced, second.

Fishford and Longonot62, Thanks for your advice.

Fishford, The link to the breakdown of import duty is fantastic. I still think I'll have to read it 2 or 3 times to get a real idea of it though. Thanks for the insurance advice as well. I will be in Nairobi for a week at the end of next month if I have time I will shop around to see who is cheapest.

Longnot62, always good to hear from some one who has done it before (imported) and knows what they are talking about. I think I will look into finding a Hilux here in the UK and then with the link that fishford has provided I'll try and figure out the total cost. If its feasible then I'll go ahead and do that... If not then I will shop around Nairobi in November.

Thanks again for all your help and advice.... I will keep you updated with how I get on.


Please note one last thing regarding your Hilux. If its a D4D Diesel engine you need to be very careful as here in Kenya there are only very few specialist mechanics who can handle that engine and in particular the new Hilux. Ensure the car is fully serviced before you bring it here and you get a rough idea of the cost of servicing and spare parts in Nairobi.

I forgot to say, the maximum age of the vehicle you are planning to import should be no more than 8 years.  This is only waived in certain circumstances ie: you have owned the vehicle for several years.

Regarding insurance; we have used Kenindia and ICEA.  Both very good.  Expect to pay 8% of the vehicles assessed value (you will be sent somewhere to have this done).  This reduces to 4% over 4 years, if you remain claim free.  There is usually some room for choosing to insure the vehicle for a lower value than that assessed -your loss if the vehicle is written off though. 

A Toyota Hilux is classed as a commercial vehicle and therefore must have an annual inspection (like an MOT).  The sticker is displayed on the windscreen.  Additionally, there is less choice of insurance companies willing to insure commercials.

Regarding the Toyota D-4-D.  This engine type is sold in Kenya, and Toyota Dealers can service vehicles with this engine.  There is a good network of Toyota dealers in the country.   Servicing costs are very reasonable, compared to the UK.  Don't have your vehicle serviced elsewhere - there are many fake parts on the market.  Of course, I would recommend a thorough service before shipping and replacement of parts like brake discs/pads and making sure the suspension is in tip top condition.  With regard to servicing, the main Toyota Dealer in Nairobi are slow and often take the whole day plus.  The Nissan dealer is much much better and this is the one thing that makes us regret selling our Nissan in favour of a Toyota Hilux.

Just make sure that your imported vehicle does not have a diesel particulate filter - these clog up in Kenya, as the diesel is lower grade than european diesel  - its very expensive to have them serviced/replaced.

Hi Isherwood and others,

I so much recognize myself in your considerations when wanting to buy a car in Nairobi. It can be quite an ordeal even if you no much about cars; you are constantly aware that you get quoted different prices because you are a Muzungu. And indeed it is so hard to find a well maintained car in Nairobi; if at all they are here.. they are usualy the ones owned by expats.
This (and family circumstances) have given me the idea to start a service for expats, by an expat (myself):  check it on (moderated: no free ads)
I want my mainstay to be the brokering of vehicles between leaving expats, and the ones arriving. But I do not except just any expat owned vehicle in my marketing programme; I only broker well maintained cars!
So all vehicles that I consider brokering are first submitted to a Technical Assessment. I do this with a befriended garage owned by a Muzungu (so there are 2 pair of expat eyes looking at the car). If we find any traces of regular jua-kali work or if we get the impression that the car has had a structural lack of maintenance, I refuse to market the car among my clients. E.g. earlier this week I pushed back on a beautiful Range Rover 2001 model (Muzungu owned in Karen; for the above said reasons) and on a Subaru Forester (also owner by a Muzungu, in fasct a very good friend of mine; we once were room mates!). In so doing, I am trying to build a brand and a reputation, that can be trusted by expat's here and abroad. I hope my services will be advertised (mouth to mouth) by satisfied customers, so that even expats who are yet to arrive can contact/contract me to start sourcing a car for them and having it tested before they arrive (tests at 4000 Ksh, if the car is brought to us).
In response to popular demand, I also do some importations. But I have to admit that I have not yet imported from the UK (though I know cars cheaper there at the moment).
If you’d like I can help you with my network of handlers: from Mombasa to Nairobi. I will not charge you my usual fee (since you are sourcing the vehicle yourself) but the overall costs will come to approx 800 USD (plus possible demeurage). I'll link you up with them for free if you tell me all you know about the UK car export market, over several beers :)

Hoping to meet you end of August.

Thanks again for everyone who has contributed their time and knowledge into this topic.

I have had time to think about my options and have decided against importing a car (for now). It will be much easier to buy one in Nairobi.

Thanks again


Looking to buy a car in Nairobi as well, this has been the most helpful info i've found !

ok, where would you recommend to take your car for service here in Nairobi, reliable, and good service? " value for money"


Hi, we take ours to the main dealer, as they will always use genuine parts.  I don't think that a general garage would necessarily door this.

Kenya AA operate a 'good garage scheme' and a garage with a 3 spanner rating is assessed as a good one.  Certainly worth exploring.

Dear Longonot62,

I see from earlier posts that you know much about vehicles, but I respectfully want to challenge you point on having vehicles maintained at main dealers only.

I think it is rather naive to think that main dealers always use genuine parts. Most people have no clue what happens to there vehilces in a garage and it is very easy for garages (and/or their employees) to trick the client into paying for parts that have not been changed or replaced by a used part.

I have heard 'of the grapevine' that the 'main dealer for Toyota in Kenya' has a monthly invoice of 2-3 million Ksh from their neighbours who import used car parts from Japan.. why would that be?

I believe it is a universal problem - read an article once that suggested that such irregularities are found in 60% of garages world wide. I know this also happens in my home country (NLs) where most people have the faintest idea what happens under the hood of their car or behind the wheels.

I'd much rather have a good mechanic who advises me on which parts I have to buy/order genuine and for which I can do with the Korean substitute. In some cases I even go and buy the parts myself so I am sure I do not pay too much.

Mikel12, I have heard good reports of Jacaranda motors in Lavington, though I have never been there myself.

For 4x4's there are a few good Muzungu run garages. They are probably more expensive, but it is worth investing more in a first class job on your heavy duty vehicle, than to get stranded with it in the middle of nowhere.
[I don't think any of them would appreciate being mentioned here, so pls just ask around in your circle of expat friends.]


I write from experience and from many years of having vehicles serviced in Kenya.  Fake parts is a huge problem and your best chance of getting genuine parts is through the franchised dealer.  We have NEVER had a problem in this area.

I certainly know enough about mechanics to tell whether ot not a part has been replaced and whether the 'new' part is actually new.  Incidentally, the problem of charging for parts that have not been changed, or are used is not unusual in the UK, so you learn to look out for it.

I agree that those people with little mechanical knowledge are ripe for being taken advantage of..............which is the case anywhere.

Also things heard 'on the grapevine' aren't necessarily true and in any case, our Toyota doesn't go to that particular dealer.

Personally, I would never go for a Korean substitute part, but like all the posts on this forum, I am just giving my personal opinion.  Buying parts yourself is obviously an option, but you still have to know what you are doing.

As you say, you don't want to be stranded and its worth investing more in the servicing, which leads me back to why our vehicles go to the franchised dealer! 

I really don'r buy the suggestion that a mzungu mechanic should be somehow better.  Perhaps you could enlighten me?

Dear Longonot62,

In my experience as a ‘white Mzungu’ [cause Mzungu literally means (any) foreigner],
not only car dealers but also local mechanic/garage owners always try to earn more on me, assuming that I would not have technical knowledge. They are surprised - and sometimes annoyed - when they are confronted with me pushing back and giving technical reasons for why what they are saying is "bullshit" (though I may harness this in polite English language as I have learned that the Dutch direct way is mostly not appreciated).

I find there is a structural lack or poor education in terms of vehicle mechanics. And the only African mechanics I see doing excellent work have been working with two Mzungu garage owners that I work with and they have been here for years. At least in one of the cases I know the staff had the benefit of years (>17 years) of training on the job.

Whenever I needed the help of other local mechanic (mostly when on safari’s) I found that they do not have the faintest idea of what the problem is on my car. In such a case I have to suggest what it might be and what needs to be done.

I deal with too many cars and don't own the garage (nor have the technical education) myself to be doing these jobs.. I stick to what I am good at and that is assessing and brokering well maintained cars, mostly from expats (who are leaving) to expats (who are arriving) and sometimes I consult on getting something fixed in the process.

By the way, I also know of one or two Mzungu garage owners that are ripping off people. But the two I use I fully trust. At least so far I have always found them honest with me. But I assume they may also have their less favourite clients..

Maybe the way I stated it may come across as racist, but rest assured I am far from being a racist. I grew up in West Africa and worked in East, South and Central Africa for the past 9 years. I have many African friends, and in fact I have never heard one of them denying that Mzungu’s tend to maintain their car better. In fact my African (expat-) colleagues in a large International NGO were worked in, were not investing as much on maintenance as their Mzungu colleagues, but stood in line to buy the car whenever a Mzungu was leaving.

All for now, out.

Dear Joep,

Interesting post, but can you please post some recommendations of "good" garages/mechanics?


Hi Joep,  As I said, I am just sharing my own experiences and yours are obviously different.

I have to disagree with you about your assessment of 'African mechanics' - there are many well trained and excellent 'African mechanics'.  I don't think that you would necessrily find them somewhere in a remote upcountry location though!  I wasn't accusing you of racism.  I was just interested to know your reasoning - and you gave it.

The big difference between us though, is that you are in business with cars and I am not.  I wouldn't make sense for you to take all the vehicles you trade through a franchised car dealer, thus cutting your margins.

Its great that you have found reliable and trustworthy mechanics.  Don't you think it would be useful to name them, so that other users of this site may benefit?

Dear Longonot62, Mikel12 and occamsrazor,

Its been almost a year since the latest post in this conversation. I have a year more experience in dealing with local garages in Nairobi [since i started a business exclusively brokering cars that have been pre-owned by expats and importing cars for other arriving expats].

I still work with the two Muzungu garages I mentioned in an earlier post (they are busy enough by word of mouth so can't be bothered to be mentioned here) BUT:

I want to set the record straight and make a case for some excellent Kenyan run garages that I had good experiences with in the passed year. I found these to be knowledgeable, experienced and most of all people with integrity:

Linus (Trinity Auto) you can find up Wayaki way, passed Kangemi on your left, behind the Total Station of "Mount View" (on the Western end of Hinga Road)

Eric (Opti Ride) on Amboselli Road (one street away/west off the junction of James Gichuru Rd with and Gitanga Rd) look for the "Safina Party" gate. He has a small workshop, but does excellent work. Is also good at car diagnostics.

I know from dealing with them that the following are also very knowledgeable and I hear from their clients that their prices are fair:

JAS motors on Pofu Road, one street south of Bongani Road in Langata Area of Karen

The Chequered Flag, Opposite St Christophers School, on Ngong Road, Karen

I know several more mechanics in Karen that are reliable and good at various things.. names like Mandeep and Bennet.
Inbox me if you want more specific advice.


i know of affordable insurance sellers

Hi Joep, I just arrived in nairobi and read about your car brokerage service with great interest. What would be the best way to contact you directly? Thanks!

[Moderated: No free ad on the forum]


WOW for such a forum, such a condescending post against locals!! As a Kenyan that has lived in Europe for several years and have many expat friends here in Kenya,would hardly say their cars are any better treated or maintained than my local friends!!

By the way, you do know that not all expats are mzungu. We also have plenty non-mzungu expats.

Good luck with your business - can't see it surviving long with a salesman with such an attitude

Sachmo; unfortunately the attitude (of superiority) that you describe above is all too common and so very very wrong.

[Moderated : please post in Vehicules classifieds in Nairobi section pls]

@Sachmo when did I say something generally negative about all locals?
And when did I say all expats are Muzungu's? I have worked with more non-Muzungu expats than with Muzungu's! And many non-Muzungu expats are now my clients understanding and appreciative of my service!

The same is true for any kind of expat: In general they spend more on the maintenance of their car then the 'average' Kenyan. That logically has more to do with the size of their wallet (not mine by the way), more than with anything else. I am just bluntly stating this, but hope you have read the word "average" in the sentence above, else you are going to accuse and attack me again with words as strong as "condescending"..
[ which by the way I take offense; And I think it is just a cheap way of attacking someone, which could be moderated out of this website! ]

BTW The fact that Kenyans are also more interested at buying a car from an expat is I think also purely based on experience. So why should I not apply the same experience and logic in my business? I hope you will not deny this. I have trully never had a Kenyan deny this when I state it this way. I would really be surprised to meet the first Kenyan who denies this here on this forum? But just because I am a Muzungu, when I say it, it becomes condescending?

Instead of using such big words, you could ask me some questions to clarify my attitude toward Kenyans? I equally have many Kenyan friends and I choose to be in Africa, and in Kenya in specific because I love your country, its wideness (I come from the smallest country), your people and their diversity! Ask me to have a beer and choma with you and we sit and talk and exchange experiences?

It is also clear to me that you do not understand the rational behind my business (which is doing quite well, thank you). I do not need you to understand my business, but maybe others on this forum might appreciate this explanation:

First of all let me specifically state that I am NOT a dealer. And I am quite happy I am not. I want to say nothing bad about the dealers in second hand cars in general, I really connect with them well. But they are in a difficult predicament, that I would also find myself in if I were a dealer: We are all humans! Humans make mistakes. And so once in a while I would purchase a bad car. But I still need to sell it as my capital is locked in that car! I am happy to be a broker, and so I do not need to sell a car when I find - sometimes in the course of the process - that it has some kind of problem! I usually help the owner to get it fixed properly and then I can sell it with a clear conscience.

Second, my business is based on the simple fact that: Expat cars in general stand a better chance at getting the maintenance they deserve, plainly because spending money on their car is less of a problem. However, it remains to be seen what is achieved with that budget! What have the mechanics (jua kali as well as garages) done with the money you gave them for a certain maintenance job? This is why I assess every car that is being offered to me and it has to pass my scrutiny before I accept to broker it!
By the way: I also take quite a number of cars from Kenyan friends from whom I know (by experience in assessing their cars before) that they have maintained their cars well.

Now quoting from experience (my records show that): When I started this business, in the first 1 year, I had to assess 4 cars to find 1 good one! At this time I was still actively scouting for the cars my purchasing clients wanted me to find for them.
But after some time, I changed my approach. My pre-filter on the market has become: To wait for expats and friends to contact me about the cars they want to sell (when they upgrade or leave the country). And I dare to say no! So I have become smarter (by experience) at pre-selecting the cars and now when it gets to assessing them, I am only dismissing 1/4 of them!

And @Longonot62: "attitude of superiority" .. who? me? where did that come from?
Ok I may be quite convinced of myself, but I am not proud and certainly do not feel superior to anyone; and certainly not because of their skin color!

You guys(&girl) are gaging me so wrong!

Hi everybody,

It would be better to talk without controversy or to engage in personal attacks on the forum please. :)

Please note that the main subject of this topic is : Buying a car in Nairobi, mechanic, Insurance ect......

Thank you to keep this team spirit  :top:

Priscilla team

I used this one Kenyan guy for my Nissan Pathfinder.For a Kenyan,he was straight as an arrow.I dont know if I still have his contacts.

He sourced it from autotrader and did everything for me.Not sure where his office is but he did a Bang up Job.

Some Kenyans are very straight forward.

Contact Crawlers Auto Solutions
They specialise in 4x4 Repairs, Offer Mobile Mechanic Service and Also Have special female maintenance packages.

New topic

Questions and answers about transports

Ask your question
Chafic geadah
Showrooms for used trucks in Nairobi
By Chafic geadah
Car Hire in Nairobi
By Tah3r
Looking for a Split Window Volkswagen Kombi
By Duncan123
Car Hire
By vikivix
is it safe to ride a Scooter in Nairobi?
By Adebisi2000

Expatriate health insurance in Nairobi

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Nairobi

Moving to Nairobi

Find tips from professionals about moving to Nairobi

Travel insurance in Nairobi

Enjoy a stress-free travel across Nairobi

Flights to Nairobi

Find the best prices for your flight tickets to Nairobi